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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate French Pronunciation Guide.
In this lesson, you'll learn the top 5 French pronunciation mistakes to avoid.
These are common mistakes that French learners tend to make.
So pay close attention and make sure that you don't make these same mistakes too.
Are you ready?
Then let's get started!
"THE FRENCH R" Number 1. Mispronouncing the French R.
The French R is the most difficult sound to pronounce properly for many students of French, particularly when there isn't a similar sound in the student's own language.
It's also a very common letter in French, so it will appear often in every day conversations.
Take for example...
Lorsque tu arrives à la gare, appelle-moi. (Once you are at the train station, call me.)
It's kind of deceptive to think of the French R in the same way as the English R just because they are written in the same way.
They clearly don't sound the same at all.
Not only this, but they also use different muscles in the mouth.
The French R is also called a 'guttural R' because it's pronounced closer to the throat.
Don't worry about the specifics now however, we'll break this sound down in detail in lesson 7.
"PRONOUNCING A SILENT LETTER" Number 2: Pronouncing a silent letter.
It's a common mistake for students of French to pronounce silent letters, because the tendency is to pronounce everything that one sees.
The French language however, is full of words that contain silent letters, particularly at the end of a word.
It is in fact *more* common for a French word to have a silent letter than none at all.
Take this sentence for example...
Je vais pêcher au port. (I’m going to the port to fish)
Did you catch the silent letters in this sentence?
Notice how Mailys did not pronounce the S and the T.
Listen to it again.
Je vais pêcher au port.
Most of the time, you don't need to pronounce the last letter of a word in French.
There are of course some exceptions to this rule.
Particularly if the following word starts with a vowel sound, or if the word ends with a C, F, or an L.
But as a general principle, it's quite common to drop the last letter, as it will most likely be a silent letter.
We'll cover silent letters in detail in lesson 8.
"ASPIRATED H's vs MUTED H's" Number 3: Aspirated H's versus muted H's.
haine (hatred)
Hôpital (hospital)
Aspirated H's will not allow contractions or liaisons to occur in front of it.
For example...
l'haine (the hatred)
la haine (the hatred)
Whereas muted H's *will*.
l'Hôpital (the hospital)
Most French H's are of this muted variety.
They're not interchangeable either, so their usage will depend on the word itself.
This unfortunately means that you'll just have to learn them individually.
Next, is Number 4: Contractions in French
Unlike English, contractions are *not* optional in French.
You must *always* contract words wherever possible.
For example...
Je appeler (i call)
j’appelle (i call)
Ce est (it is)
c'est (it is)
de le (from [singular])
du (from [singular])
de les (from [plural])
des (from [plural])
Don't worry about the rules and principles for contractions too much though, as we'll cover them in detail in lesson 8.
"THE FRENCH U" And finally, Number 5: The French U
The French U is typically a difficult vowel sound for many speakers to pronounce correctly, particularly for speakers of English because there isn't an equivalent sound in the English language.
Whatever you do though, *do not* substitute this sound for the English U-sound!
A simple way to produce the French U, is to first try and pronounce the double E sound in the word 'see'.
From this position, simply round your lips, as if you were about to whistle.
And that's all there is too it!
Try it!
Let's listen to a few examples which utilises the French U in some words.
tu (you [informal])
rue (street)
chute (fall)
We'll cover this vowel sound again in lesson 4.
Now you know the top 5 French pronunciation mistakes to avoid.
Try to be careful so that you don't commit these same mistakes.
In the next lesson, we'll start learning vowel sounds in French.
Which of these five mistakes is the hardest to avoid? Have you learned any tricks to deal with them? Let us know in the comments.
Stick with us and you'll overcome it quickly!
See you in the next Ultimate French Pronunciation Guide lesson!