One of the most common questions from French students is, "How can I perfect my French accent?" Like many language learning questions, this one doesn't have a simple answer.
First of all, unless you started learning at a very young age, it's very unlikely that you will ever have a perfect French accent. That said, you can certainly improve your accent, and the first step, or rather series of steps, is obviously to learn how to pronounce all the different French letters and letter combinations, which takes time. Next, you have to learn about the particularities of French like liaisons, enchaînement, rhythm, and all that jazz.
To a certain extent, you can learn the above on your own, by reading lessons and using audio tools.* You can hear the pronunciation of individual words in dictionaries or websites like
It's also essential to listen to French as much as possible. It doesn't matter whether it's news, movies, cartoons, or podcasts, as long as it's native French speakers. Training your ear is a vital part of training your tongue.
The human touch
At some point, preferably sooner rather than later, you’ll have to interact with actual humans. Of course, speaking with natives can be intimidating, some sounds can be particularly tricky and almost everyone gets nervous when doing this!
You have to make sure that what you’re pronouncing is correct - otherwise, you might end up practising the wrong sound (see Don't practise your mistakes).
The best way to build up your confidence and also to get expert feedback on your pronunciation is to take regular lessons with a native French tutor. They'll make you feel comfortable and help you master those sounds and words that you have trouble with. If you wish to explore this, you can view tutors videos and reviews, then book a 30-minute trial session on LanguaTalk. Click here to see the live availability of tutors.
Alternatively, you can look for a language exchange if you live in a bigger city and have the time to also help others with learning your native language.
If private classes aren’t possible, you might try one of these other options:
- Alliance française has a state-of-the-art language lab for séances de phonétique.
- La Sorbonne provides cours de perfectionnement in a language lab, guided by an accent specialist.
The bottom line
Like everything, improving your French pronunciation takes dedication and motivation, and there's a limit to how much you can do on your own. If you're serious about improving your accent, you need to work with a tutor or at least take a class.
*Recommended Audio resources
- Différences oral / écrit (dictées)
- Discover and learn spoken French to sound like the natives (online course)
- French listening links (online audio)
- French pronunciation (online lessons)
- Liaison obligatoire ou liaison interdite ? (dictées)
- Netprof.fr videos: Prononciation 1 | Prononciation 2 | Prononciation 3
- Phonétique progressive du français, CLE International
- Savoir Dire, by Diane Dansereau