If you wish you could travel to Paris without attracting the scorn of the garcons, but are worried you might sound like Joey from Friends, look no further. Actually, listen. Podcasts started to take hold 15 years ago, and today these digital audio files have established themselves as a popular and convenient means of communication, entertainment, and more recently, as a way to learn a new language.
Podcasts are mostly uploaded by native speakers, which means you will hear and grasp authentic accents right from the start. Some only last a couple of minutes, others can go up to three hours, so make sure you pick out a short podcast to start with – you can move on to more difficult ones later in your learning journey.
There are countless French podcasts to choose from, all you need to do is find a topic you want to know more about. Whether you’re passionate about Game of Thrones, the history of Rome or Super Mario, there is something for everybody.
Gymglish has come up with a list of 5 podcasts to prepare for that eventual meeting with Pierre, Paul et Jacques!
1) To start off on the right foot: Coffee Break French
Launched by the Scottish language group Radio Lingua Network, Coffee Break French is a podcast to add to the top of your list. Each lesson lasts between 10 and 15 minutes and features teacher Mark coaching his student Anna. We find that learning at the same time as somebody else makes your learning journey easy and effective. Not only does this podcast cover fundamental French, but it will also help you improve your oral comprehension and get a better understanding of modern and conversational French.
Who it’s for: The podcast is divided into four levels (called “seasons”): absolute beginner, intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced. Dialogues are crystal clear. Get those headphones on.
2) To keep up to date with the news: News in Slow French
If you want to get a better understanding of a language through current events but are afraid you won’t keep up with the newsreader’s natural speaking pace, News in Slow French is here to help you build up your vocabulary and speak with confidence in record time. Join Guillaume and Catherine in their 10-minute weekly podcasts during which they provide a quick run-down on what’s trending worldwide. A great added value to this podcast: each episode focuses on grammar rules and idiomatic expressions.
Who it’s for: If you’re a more advanced learner, just lay back and take in the dialogue. If you’re less comfortable with French, you can download the transcript from the website and follow along with the audio.
3) To learn about the French way of life: One Thing in a French Day
Three minutes and twenty-eight seconds. That’s the average length of Laetitia’s One Thing in a French Day podcasts (new episodes available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays) in which she shares a daily event of her Parisian life with her audience. Follow her while she visits her local boulangerie, takes a stroll in the 17th arrondissement or eats at her favorite local restaurants. If you find 3 minutes is too short, try going through her 1,642 archived episodes.
Who it’s for: One Thing in a French Day targets intermediate and advanced learners – the audio is 100% French without any translations. It might sound tricky at first, but Laetitia’s accent will help you significantly improve your understanding of the language.
4) To speak just like the French: Français Authentique
Tomber à pic, courir sur le haricot, se prendre la tête… No idea what any of this means, right? Fret no more. Created in 2012 by former engineer Johan Tekfak, Français Authentique is all about immersion. Each 10-minute audio recording will help you understand and use French idioms and colloquial expressions in a fun, laid back way. Not only is Johan a likeable host, but he also promises to jumpstart your French learning.
Who it’s for: Upper intermediate and advanced users will come to love this podcast – it’s easy to get hooked. It’s ideal for those who understand written French, but have trouble grasping conversational French spoken at a normal pace. We recommend you listen to these podcasts in a calm and relaxed environment.
5) To get a 360° knowledge of French: French Your Way and French Voices
Improve your vocabulary, boost your comprehension, learn idiomatic expressions, avoid common mistakes… it seems there is nothing you can’t learn with podcast host and French teacher Jessica and her weekly podcasts. Whilst French Your Way focuses more on grammar and spelling rules, French Voices gives native French speakers a chance to share their work, passion and lifestyle. They are ideal for listeners who want to hear authentic French spoken naturally at normal speed, without over articulating.
Who it’s for: We recommend these podcasts for learners at all levels – from beginners to more advanced students. The vocabulary list at the end of each audio is a great tool to help you learn and memorize new words, and the Q&A sessions at the end of each episode tests you on what you have just heard.
Bonus podcast: France Culture
Once you are more familiar with the French language, you might want to step away from the language training podcasts and shift into second gear. That’s where France Culture comes into the picture. Their podcasts are widely popular in France and offer several formats, from testimonies to debates, panels to one-to-one interviews… all fun stuff. Before tuning in, bear in mind that you don’t have to understand every single word you hear. You can let the podcast play in the background and continue your daily tasks. Sometimes, just exposing yourself to the language’s sound is enough. Spoiler alert: there are so many topics to choose from, chances are you might listen to them forever.
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