Podcasts are in at the moment. People listen to them when they’re on-the-go or when they have a spare few minutes to learn something new. You can find podcasts on just about every topic possible- and that includes French learning.
Learning French grammar rules and reading textbooks will only get you so far in your language journey. These tools don’t actually allow you to hear how French is spoken. That’s why listening to podcasts can be a great way to supplement your learning.
Understanding French through listening is actually a huge step up from understanding written French. This is why the transition needs to be slow.
Don’t be surprised if you can understand a large chunk of written French and then practically no spoken French. (I remember being at this stage and I thought all my French learning had been a waste of time!) This isn’t true, it is just a separate skill that needs to be worked on.
Today I’ve put together a list of (5) great podcasts for all levels of French learners (from beginner to advanced).
1. Coffee Break French – Podcast for Beginners
Coffee Break French is probably the perfect podcast for beginners because it really does start with the basics (I’m talking about basic greetings and asking people “how are you?”) Most of the podcasts range from about 20-30 minutes long.
I love how Mark (who runs this podcast) speaks slowly and clearly and clarifies things in English (so you won’t find yourself getting lost at any point).
Some of the topics include asking for directions, ordering at a restaurant and ways of expressing not feeling well. So yes- all very handy!
If you’re looking for this kind of vocabulary and dialogues, check out French Today’s 1100 Modern French Phrases and Dialogs Audio Phrasebook . Recorded at 2 levels of enunciation (enunciated and modern French) – it’s a great way to learn new vocabulary and prepare for real interactions in French!
2. LanguaTalk Slow French- Podcast for Intermediate Learners
For intermediate French learners, this podcast is a fabulous option. It is run by a lady named Gaëlle and is aimed at those at A2 level (and above). Gaëlle speaks very clearly and more importantly at an understandable speed. Each episode is between 15 and 20 minutes long.
The topics vary from French culture (the Avignon festival and Brigitte Bardot) to common mistakes French learners make, and famous French novels (such as Lupin). I love podcasts that teach a bit of French culture (it doesn’t have to always be about grammar!)
I think the best part about LanguaTalk Slow French is that each audio is accompanied by a free interactive transcript. As you listen to the audio, you can follow along with the written transcript. As each word is being read aloud, it will turn blue. Associating the written words with the French sounds is one of the quickest ways to begin understanding spoken French.
3. French Today’s Easy French Poetry Podcast – Beginners to Advanced Learners
Did you know Camille was one of the first French language podcaster?
In 2006, she started her Easy French Poetry Podcast, where she reads classical French poems (Hugo, Baudelaire, La Fontaine etc…) first in an overly enunciated and slow French, then with a natural interpretation. You’ll find the content of this podcast in the French poetry reading section of this website.
If you enjoy French poetry, check out Camille’s Easy French Poetry Audiobook where she reads, then explain (using easy French) and then analyses the most famous classical French poems using everyday French.
4. Inner French- Podcast for Intermediate-to-Advanced Learners
I was unfamiliar with this podcast until Camille recommended it, and I’m glad I found it. Aimed at more advanced French learners, Inner French offers great potential. These podcasts tend to be a bit longer: between 40-55 minutes.
The host, Hugo does speak clearly but it is important to note that the topics are a bit more advanced. This podcast is entirely in French so there are no explanations in English. Some of the topics include “Why are the French anti-vaxxers” “Islamophobia in France” and “Can minimalism save the planet?”.
Because the topics are a bit more deep and thought provoking, the vocabulary used is a bit more tricky, so I would only recommend this podcast for upper intermediate to more advanced learners. Yet, Hugo’s enunciation is natural but easy to understand… So, give it a try and see for yourself!
5. French Voices – Podcast for Advanced Learners
For those who want a bit of a challenge, French Voices is the one for you. A lady named Jessica runs this podcast, and she interviews different French speakers about their passions and jobs.
Some of her interviewees are scientists, others work in patisseries and some have passions for abstract art and magnets. (She also interviews a security guard working in the Louvre). You really do get a bit of everything in this podcast.
Jessica begins most of her episodes in English, explaining what the topic will be about and she gives you a list of comprehension questions to look out for. She also offers a vocabulary list for each of her episodes which is very useful. She also interviews people from Quebec and Belgium, so you will get a taste of different French accents.
Bonus – The Earful Tower Podcast
Ok, the Earful Tower Podcast is not so much about learning French than about France and Paris. Oliver Gee, the Australian host of the Earful Tower puts together an excellent podcast: fun, well produced and informative. I’m sure you’ll love it!
This being said, if you catch some of the earlier episodes, Camille is a regular host, explains bits of French vocabulary and give tips on how to best learn French (Check out this episode and on the web page, Oliver links all the episodes with Camille).
Bonus 2 – Talking France Podcast
From culture to politics and practical questions, Talking France is a weekly podcast where the journalists from The Local discuss the big news and talking points in France as well as explore and explain the major issues that impact life in the country. We also answer your essential questions and look ahead at what’s coming up. Camille is also a regular guest.
What about you, do you listen to any French podcasts on a regular basis?