If you’d like to say “I’m hungry.” in French, you would say “J’ai faim.” Literally, it means, “I have hunger.” And, awkward as that may sound, it’s the universal expression for letting others know you need something to eat. When thinking about the pronunciation, aim for the same nasal vowel sound you produce in “fin” (end), minus articulating the final consonant. That said, there are some regional variations, so verging toward a softer a sound, with a light insinuation of the final m consonant sound—closer to what you produce when saying “femme” —can also work.
Getting comfortable with general day-to-day expressions will give you a great foundation for learning French. After all, these are the phrases you’ll use most often in travel or casual interactions with others. Adding in a deeper understanding of verbs, nouns, general grammar, and pronunciation is the natural next step.
Rosetta Stone’s Dynamic Immersion® methodology teaches you the language, not just the words. What makes it so effective is that we prepare you to use your new language in your everyday life. So it’s not just about the features, but what you’re able to do because of them. That way, you’ll be ready to handle any situation with ease and confidence.
When you first start learning French, you may be tempted to wade into memorizing long lists of vocabulary words. But this is not an effective way to learn French. Instead, you should focus first on learning just a few of the most commonly used phrases and French pronunciation. After all, the goal of learning a new language is not vocabulary acquisition. Rather, to achieve a level of comfort and confidence needed to have conversations in French.
Most learners find immediately that there are commonly used French words and conversational phrases that make up the backbone of the language. Learning these common words and phrases will give you a solid foundation. In addition to greetings like “Bonjour” or “S’il vous plaît” it’s also smart to learn the words that native French speakers sprinkle throughout their sentences, such as quoi, où, qui, quand, pourquoi, and comment. These common words are very similar to the English words who, what, where, when, why, and how—and they will pop up often in everyday conversations.
As you probably know, the French language is infamous for its je ne sais quoi—which is an indefinable quality that makes the French accent sound somewhat mysterious. But what may seem to be an elusive aspect of the French language’s appeal is really just a nuance of pronunciation. The language can be challenging to learn, because it is much more nasal sounding than other languages. Practice will help you become comfortable with this distinct difference. And that’s why it’s important to learn French pronunciation as you learn common words and phrases.
The French alphabet has the same letters as the English alphabet, but some of the letter sounds are pronounced quite differently. One of the most familiar sounds in French is the pronunciation of the letter e. In French, e is pronounced “euh” and can be heard in many French conversations. That’s because it’s used in the same way English speakers use the sound “uh.” In French, e is used as a pause or as a connector to another thought.
You’ll be glad to know that the French language includes helpful accent marks to guide your pronunciation. There are five different French accent marks to learn: the cédille (Ç), the aigu (é), the circonflexe (â, ê, î, ô, û), the grave (à, è, ù), and the tréma (ë, ï, ü). These accent marks most often indicate that the pronunciation of the letter is irregular. That said, the circonflexe is used only in French writing and doesn’t affect the pronunciation of the words in which it appears.
Acquiring proper French pronunciation depends on getting immediate feedback so you can make corrections. Rosetta Stone helps you dial in your pronunciation with our patented TruAccent™ speech-recognition engine—which instantly compares your voice to native and non-native speakers, so you get real-time feedback for the most accurate pronunciation.
It can be a valuable tool in helping you learn to understand and speak in French.
After you are comfortable with the building blocks of French, you can move on to learning the longer phrases that make up the backbone of everyday conversations. Rosetta Stone’s brief and bite-sized, 10-minute lessons are built to help you do just that. The language lessons will guide you towards speaking French with comfort and confidence.
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