Here is the first chapter of French Today’s free French audiobook “First Encounter”.
In this free downloadable French e-book, you’ll meet Mary, an English teenage girl going to babysit in France. In the other audiobooks of French Today’s French learning method + adapted audio novel, Mary’s adventures in France will continue, and you’ll get better acquainted with her and her friends as the story develops through the ongoing novel (progressing in difficulty as your level in French progresses).
This first audiobook of the series is a sample of what the À Moi Paris series is about. I wanted to have a book interesting enough for all levels of French students, so you will see that the level of complexity of the French I use evolves quickly from chapter 1 to chapter 6. Of course, in the other audiobooks of the series, this progression is much slower as I focus on the needs of the level at hand.
So now, let’s study some French in context.
Click the audio bars below to listen to the slow, normal and street French recording of this first chapter of French Today’s free French audiobook.
Street French Speed
|Nous sommes dans l’Eurostar de Londres à Paris. Une jeune fille blonde entre dans le compartiment.
We are in the Eurostar from London to Paris. A young blond girl enters the train car.
|Mary||Excusez-moi : est-ce que c’est la voiture 8 ?Excuse-me: is this the car number 8?|
|Pierre||Oui, c’est la voiture 8.
Yes, it’s car number 8.
|Mary||Merci. Et c’est la place 42B ?
Thank you. And this is seat 42B?
|Pierre||Oui, regardez, le numéro est ici, sur le dossier du siège. Ce n’est pas très facile à voir !
Yes, look,the number is here, on the back of the seat. It’s not very easy to see.
|Mary||Mais pourquoi est-ce qu’il y a deux numéros ?
But why are there two numbers?
|Pierre||Je ne sais pas. Mais je sais que c’est le numéro allumé qui compte.
I don’t know. But I know it’s the lit number that counts.
|Mary place sa valise un peu plus loin, sur une plateforme pour mettre les valises, et puis elle retourne à sa place. Sa place est à côté de la fenêtre, donc elle doit déranger son voisin.
Mary places her suitcase a bit farther, on a platform to put away suitcases, and then goes back to her seat. Her seat is by the window, so she has to bother her seat mate.
|Mary||Excusez-moi de vous déranger une nouvelle fois.
Excuse me for bothering you once more.
|Pierre||Mais pas du tout, c’est normal. Euh… On peut peut être se tutoyer ? Je m’appelle Pierre, et toi ?
Not at all, it’s all right. Well… maybe we could use “tu” to talk to each other? My name is Pierre, what’s yours?
|Mary||Moi, c’est Mary. Excuse-moi, je suis anglaise et je ne sais pas vraiment quand je dois dire “tu” ou “vous”.
I’m Mary. I’m sorry, I’m English and don’t really know when I must say “tu” or “vous”.
|Pierre||Non, non, c’est normal. C’est une bonne idée de vouvoyer au début. Mais entre jeunes, on dit “tu” plus facilement.
No, no, it’s normal. It’s a good idea to say “vous” at the beginning. But among a younger crowd, we say “tu” more easily.
|Mary||D’accord, je comprends, merci.
Ok, I understand, thank you.
|Pierre||Donc tu es anglaise. Ton français est vraiment excellent ! Tu n’as aucun accent !
So you’re English. Your French is really excellent! You have no accent!
|Mary||Tu es gentil, mais je triche un peu. En fait, je suis bilingue. Ma mère est anglaise, et mon père est français.
You’re kind, but I’m kind of cheating. In fact, I am bilingual. My mother is English, and my dad is French.
|Pierre||Ah oui ? C’est génial ! Et tu parles français avec ton père et anglais avec ta mère ?
Really? That’s great! And you speak French with your dad and English with your mum?
Spoken French Versus Written French
Click the audio bar below to listen to my recording of the Study Guide accompanying this first chapter.
You may have been a bit surprised when you first listen to the story part of this audiobook: it probably didn’t sound like the French you studied in school. The reason is that French is a fast evolving language, and unfortunately, traditional methods teach traditional French, and teach you to pronounce French just like you write it. And this is so wrong!
Nowadays, everybody talking French applies some glidings to the French language. On top of elision and liaisons, 2 grammatical terms I will explain below, modern glidings are so strong that spoken French ends up being something most foreigners have a very difficult time with.
I will apply “medium” glidings, meaning that I won’t go full “teenage suburb” on you, nor will I talk like a book. I am going to teach you to speak like a real French person does, so make sure you always study with the audio and pay attention to the way I “jam” words together.
1. What is “an Elision”
Elision happens when a few very common short words (je, le, de, ne, que, se, ce, me, te and la) are followed by a vowel or an h.
To avoid a clash of vowels (which is hard on the jaws), the short word will then drop its final vowel and replace it in writing with an apostrophe.
In French pronunciation, the remaining consonant sound will become the first sound of the following word.
You will see, this happen A LOT, and it’s very important you master this to sound French.
Example: L’Eurostar, c’est, ce n’est pas, d’accord, je m’appelle etc…
2. What is a “liaison”?
A liaison occurs when a silent consonant (like the t of “c’est”) is followed by a vowel or a mute H (like the word “une”).
In a liaison, the silent letter becomes the first sound of the following word, so here the silent “t” of “c’est” will become the first sound of “une”, making it sound like “tune”.
Most consonants keep their sound in liaison, except for:
- S that makes a liaison sound in Z,
- X becomes Z,
- and D becomes T.
Listen carefully to the audio, and liaisons will become obvious to you!
3. What is a gliding?
A gliding is what happens in modern French, when we glide over some letters, kind of like “gotta go” instead of “I have got to go” in American English.
It’s very common nowadays in French, and reinforces the difference between spoken and written French.
The use of glidings differ among people: it’s a question of context, age, social class,region, personal preference. Some people glide a lot, others enunciate more, but EVERY French person applies some glidings, so it is essential that you get accustomed to understanding glided words, even if you choose not to say them this way yourself (and therefore be more conservative in the way you speak French).
You will note that many letters, or even words glide so much that they often disappear.
It is the case of many short words ending in “e”:
- the “ne” of the negative,
- of the preposition “de”,
- the article or pronoun “le”,
- even the subject pronoun “je” which becomes as kind of “ch” sound: “je ne sais pas” becomes “shaypa” in totally glided modern French.
A good example of this spoken versus written French difference is the phrase “it’s not nice out, there is no sun”
When it is in written form, the phase is: “Il ne fait pas beau, il n’y a pas de soleil”
When it is spoken by a native Parisian to another it sounds like: “y fait pas beau, ya pad soleil”.
And this is not an exaggeration nor specific to a teenager or hipster way to speak, this is how anybody engaging in small talk will say it.
It needs some getting use to, but thanks to my realistic French audiobooks, this won’t be a problem for you!
Listen to The French Alphabet
Pay close attention to the audio, in particular to the letter “J” and “G” which are quite confusing!
The French alphabet is the same as the English one and it also has 26 letters.
However, we have 6 vowels: a, e, i, o, u and y (which is always a vowel in French!)
A, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z.
The rules of French pronunciation, as well as the differences between modern French and traditional French are explained thoroughly in French Today’s audiobook Secrets of French Pronunciation.
Download the rest of this audiobook…
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