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Lesson Transcript

Virginie: Bonjour tout le monde! Hi everyone.
Eric: Eric here. Pronunciation season 1, Lesson 5. French Rhythm. Hello and welcome to frenchpod101.com, the fastest, easiest and most fun way to learn French.
Virginie: Hi, I am Virginie and thanks again for being here with us for this pronunciation, season 1 lesson. So this is the last of our five lesson series about pronunciation, right Eric.

Lesson focus

Eric: That’s right. And today, we are going to be looking to a new aspect of French musicality.
Virginie: Yes with this lesson, you will know why French sounds so lovely.
Eric: And she is not biased. So the first question is probably, what do we mean by rhythm?
Virginie: Well each language has its own rhythm right.
Eric: And rhythm is comprised of three categories.
Virginie: The stress marks, in other words the volume of the syllables.
Eric: And then the intonation which is the pitch of the syllables.
Virginie: And finally the way words are linked to each other in a sentence.
Eric: Okay so let’s see how French is organized.
Virginie: What are the specificities of French rhythm Eric?
Eric: Well the first thing that gives French its rhythm is the lack of stress marks.
Virginie: Yes as opposed to English for example.
Eric: Every word in spoken English is stressed on one of its syllables.
Virginie: Let me know if I say it right like in the word unbelievable.
Eric: Right, excellent and you can hear the stress is on that word.
Virginie: Yes but you won’t hear that kind of thing in French.
Eric: And everything has more of a steady volume.
Virginie: Uhoo did you notice how reasonable and quiet French people sound?
Eric: Well I guess they are reasonable and quiet.
Virginie: That’s true. French rhythm doesn’t have stress marks but it has rhythmic groups and intonation.
Eric: And a rhythmic group is a grammatically related group of words.
Virginie: Like say a subject with its verb.
Eric: For example “Je suis” I am is a rhythmic group called a verbal group.
Virginie: Or like an article with its noun which is called a noun group like “une fille” a girl. How does it work Eric?
Eric: So take out two rhythmic groups “Je suis” I am and “une fille” a girl and make that into a sentence.
Virginie: Je suis une fille. I am a girl.
Eric: What happened is that Virginie said the last syllable of each of the rhythmic groups with a slightly higher intonation.
Virginie: Yes and again, it sounds like “je suis une fille”.
Eric: You can hear that “suis” and “fille” sort of standout in front of the last syllable of each rhythmic. It is a little bit higher pitched.
Virginie: Not too much of course.
Eric: Right just slightly but that’s one of the secrets of the poetry of French.
Virginie: We know that you probably just started learning French. So you won’t need those details right away.
Eric: This is something you want to listen for when you are hearing a French conversation.
Virginie: Yeah you will definitely hear different segments in the sentence if you pay attention to it.
Eric: And this is all making French get that sound of love.
Virginie: Okay now we need to talk about another important component of French rhythm Eric.
Eric: The effective accent.
Virginie: Words are emphasized when loaded with emotion.
Eric: And that’s what we call the effective accent. For example:
Virginie: Like in: oh là là!
Eric: You can hear the annoyance in her tone sort of.
Virginie: And annoyance makes me emphasize the last syllable.
Eric: Since this isn’t a monotonous language, there is going to be a lot of emphasis on certain words.
Virginie: The last component of the French rhythm is the “enchaînement” and the liaison.
Eric: And we could translate “enchaînement” as a sound sequence.
Virginie: Since the liaison was the focus of our previous lesson, today we will only talk about the “enchaînement” or sound sequence.
Eric: Let’s start with a definition.
Virginie: In the “enchaînement” the final consonant of a word is linked to the first vowel of the following word.
Eric: So is this like liaison?
Virginie: No, not exactly. A liaison happens with consonants that are usually silent.
Eric: Okay and “enchaînement” happens when the consonants are pronounced anyway.
Virginie: Exactly.
Eric: So you should probably give an example.
Virginie: Take the two words: “avec”
Eric: Which means “with”
Virginie: Spelled a-v-e-c and the other word “elle”
Eric: Which means her.
Virginie: And it’s spelled e-l-l-e.
Eric: Avec elle.
Virginie: Said together, it will sound like this “avec elle”.
Eric: Right as if it were one word.
Virginie: Absolutely. The c at the end of “avec” is pronounced anyway right, but when followed by the e of l, it really sounds like a wave like “avec elle”.
Eric: Right. It gets very smooth.
Virginie: Another good example of an “enchaînement” is when the first word in the sequence ends with a silent E.
Eric: Like in the word “elle”. So for example, “elle est”: she is. Elle est.
Virginie: It sounds smooth “elle est”. Not “elle...est”.
Eric: Right. You are not breaking up the phrase into two words. It’s going to be a smooth “elle est”.
Virginie: It might all sound very technical but in the end, it is just logical.
Eric: And all of this phenomenon make the French language smooth and it’s like a soft, continuous sound.


Virginie: Exactly. Okay well we are about to wrap up and we hope that this lesson helped you understand why French language sounds the way it sounds.
Eric: And we are sure it will help you to improve your speaking skills.
Virginie: Thank you all for listening.
Eric: That just about does it for today. Premium members use the review track to perfect your pronunciation.
Virginie: It’s available in the premium section of the website.
Eric: The learning center.
Virginie: And through iTunes via the premium feed.
Eric: The review track gives you vocabulary and phrases followed by a short pause so that you can repeat the words aloud.
Virginie: The best way to get good fast.
Eric: Okay bye.
Virginie: Au revoir!


Please to leave a comment.
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FrenchPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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Hi FrenchPod101.com Listeners! Do you have a natural sense of rhythm?

Saturday at 06:57 AM
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Frenchpod101 is Greta, merci :thumbsup::thumbsup::

Thursday at 11:10 PM
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Thanks for the reply. I have found plenty of review tracks on other lessons, just not this specific one. I was pretty sure they mentioned in the lesson, but maybe they are referring to the other lessons with review tracks. It's really not an issue because the subject was covered so well in the lesson (which I have downloaded and put on my iPod).

I'm very glad I found FrenchPod101, it really is a fun way to learn.

Bonne journée,


FrenchPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 03:17 PM
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Hi Chris,

Thank you for posting!

The review track is available in most of the audio Lesson Series on this site! :smile:

You can use those tracks to practice your pronunciation just like the hosts mentioned.

But those tracks are not part of these Pronunciation Lesson Series.

Please, let us know if you were able to find the Review Tracks.

Also, feel free to ask and comment as often as you wish.

Kind regards,


Team FrenchPod101.com

Tuesday at 09:27 PM
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In the lesson they spoke of a "review track" to practice what was discussed in the lesson. I'm not seeing it with the lesson. I do have the Premium upgrade.

I wish I'd heard this a year ago. None of the books or other online language sites have covered this topic so well. It feels like the brakes have been taken off my French speaking. :smile:

FrenchPod101.com Verified
Monday at 01:31 PM
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Hi Jeanne Oakes,

we are glad that French is beginning to unscramble in your mind! I think the key to truly understand a language is to go deep into grammar and all these rules, rather than just memorizing phrases by ear. As you said, now you have "awareness" and that's a really important state in the learning process. Don't stop now, just continue and the whole understanding of old and new information in your head will become so much easier!

Keep it up, you are doing great and let us know in case you need some help:cool:


Jeanne Oakes
Friday at 07:44 PM
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I have studied French off and on for a long time - since I was 12. I have used these rhythm principles without really understanding it. I could imitate a sentence I heard, but I couldn't make my sentences sound right if I hadn't first heard someone else say it correctly. Now I understand why.

Learning and categorizing the different aspects and having specific rules lined out has made this quality of the spoken language SO MUCH EASIER! I can now purposely work on the flow of my sentences with knowledgeable awareness of the dynamics. This will help me speak less "Americsn" and help me comprehend the French speaker a little better too.