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8 Steps to Study French With French Audio Books

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis on May 8, 2020
woman studying french with headphones and a smartphone

🎧 So you got a French audio book method. Good for you. And now what? Here are precise directions on how to study French with audio.

As an independent student of French, it’s likely you’ve invested in some kind of French learning method.

I surely hope you picked one with audio. If you want to learn how to communicate in French, you absolutely need audio – and audio featuring modern spoken French.

The tips below apply to any kind of French audio book method.

However, my French learning audio book method features several “speeds”: different levels of enunciation:

  • an overly enunciated one, featuring traditional “book” French pronunciation
  • a modern one, featuring the way French is spoken nowadays in France

As in many good audio book methods, there’s a study guide which explains grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and a story part which illustrates everything in context.

I know learning a language in context is essential, so my method features a long story part… actually, it’s a novel – a progressive and ongoing novel – it’s that part which is recorded at several level of enunciation.

The tips to study French with audio I’m about to give you could apply to any audio book method – if your French learning method doesn’t have different speeds, then ignore this part.

Step 1 – Listen to the French Audio

Start by listening to the fastest recording of the first chapter in the story part of your French audio book.

Don’t look at the French transcript or the translation. It’s essential you resist the urge, and only work with the audio at first!

Can you follow the gist of the storyline? Stay focused on the context and the storyline, and try to guess what you don’t fully understand.

Being able to guess from the context is an important part of communicating in any language!

If it’s too difficult, move to a slower speed, and listen again once or twice. It’s OK if you don’t understand everything at this point. Try your best to get a gist of what’s going on. You need to develop that skill.

Step 2 – Learn the New French Vocabulary in the Audio Book

Proceed to the “French vocabulary” and “French Pronunciation” chapters in the study guide section and study them.

Now listen to the story again: it should be much clearer now!

L1 + L2

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Step 3 Study With the Transcript Part of the Audio Book

It’s time to study – this is the part many students skip… And that’s too bad because without it, it’s unlikely you’ll make much progress in French.

  1. Play the story and read the French transcript as you are listening to the audio – with French Today’s app, you can easily hide the English translation so you’re not tempted to cheat.
  2. Do a second run: if need be, glance at the English translation to really figure out all the words and expressions.

Step 4 Make Flashcards

Or lists… or whatever you need to do to memorize the new words you learned in the audio book.

Train on the new grammatical concept with exercises (which should of course come with audio as well – questions and answers). Do them out loud to train on your spoken French, or in writing if that’s the focus of your studies.

Understanding is one thing. Being able to come up with the new French word/expression in a conversation is another story… You need to do whatever it is you do to memorize the new vocabulary.

Step 5 – Repeat Out Loud

At the speed that best fits your level and goal, repeat the story out loud – firstly, parts of sentences, then repeat longer sentences.

Use the “pause”, “rewind” and “rewind 5, 10, 15… seconds” buttons of my app as needed to repeat a word, an expression, part of a sentence. Insist on the parts that maybe surprised you when you first listened to the story. Mimic my pronunciation.

I suggest you alternate studying with the story (the part the student usually prefers) and studying with the study guide (hard work but essential to progress).

Step 6 Take Your Time to go Through the French Audio Book

Mastering one chapter may take a couple of hours, or much more! We are all different, and it’s OK.

To progress in French, you need to memorize the info: I’m sorry but simply repeating the story out loud won’t be enough.

Drill the verbs, make flashcards, test yourself on the vocabulary…

Step 7 – Tackle the Q&A section of the Audio Book

Once you’ve done studying the story and study guide, you’re ready to tackle the Q&A section of the audio book.

  • To work on your spoken French, answer the questions out loud.
  • To work on your written French, use the Q & A as a dictation tool.

Step 8 – Allow Some Time For Review

  • Go back to the previous chapters and review the audio of a verb then drill – here is exactly how to do drill with a French verb. You won’t master the verbs in one drilling session!
  • Review the vocabulary lists and use your flashcards.
  • Revisit the previous Q&A/ exercises sections: they will help you check you remember what you’ve learned and develop your habit to understand/answer questions fast, as is the case in real-life conversations.

Good luck with your French studies, and remember, repetition is the key!

Your first French Audiobook is on us! 😉

Download our 2.5-hour audiobook and see how different and efficient our method is. Available for iOS and Android as well as Mac and Windows.

Get Started for Free 2.5-hour audiobook recorded at 3 different speeds with full transcript

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