The French language ranks number 7 in the world today with over 267 million speakers. Statistically speaking, we have more people speaking it as a second language to a first language. This is why it is a popular foreign language many Nigerians are willing to learn and the government has been trying to enforce it on its citizens to learn.
French is a popular language taught in many Nigerian schools especially from basic or primary education. Most educated Nigerians heard or spoke their first french language while in primary school.
You learn how to count, pronounce words, and practice the french accent from as early as basic 1. I for one learnt many of the french words I know today from my primary and secondary school days in Nigeria.
It was once in the pipeline by the Nigerian government to be the second official language in Nigeria, of course, the English language being the first and so it is important that other than speaking the language, it would be great to perfect the accent.
Perfecting an accent makes it easier to interact in the language especially when discussing with the indigenes of the language.
Nigeria is a country surrounded by many francophone countries and so speaking the language and perfecting the accent will be very useful to a lot of Nigerians. We must also understand that being bilingual has a positive effect on our intellectual growth and enhances our mental development.
Learning a new language can be difficult talkless of an accent. However, it can be a piece of cake with the right attitude, zeal and constant practice.
Whether you have an Igbo accent, English accent or Hausa accent or Yoruba accent while speaking standard French, this article will give you tips on how to greatly improve and perfect your oral expression in French! Language is power.
Strangers have become friends via speaking the same language, job opportunities have been offered because of language, you never know when an opportunity will arise and you will need to use your multi-lingual tongue to communicate and rise to the top.
What The French Accent Contains
French is often considered as the language of love and os many people find the language charming because of its intonation. The accent of french people is usually considered very beautiful to the ears. No wonder a lot of people are so interested in perfecting the french accent.
One important starting point in managing a French accent, even before memorizing the French alphabet, is understanding that there is no standard French accent. Just as people think there is a general American or British accent, the truth is that differences in culture, geography and history have given rise to regional accents.
If you are learning French, by way of a French-language School, or otherwise, a very important part of understanding the language is to have a working knowledge of the accents and how they are used.
French has several different accent marks, also known as “diacritics”. These diacritics sometimes affects how we pronounce a word and in some cases completely change the meaning of the word.
For you to improve greatly on the french accent and pronunciation, there are five accents that you must fully understand. Let's take a look below at the five accent marks in the French alphabet
The Cedilla (La Cédille):
The cedilla is a tiny tail under the letter c in French words, and its function is to give the letter an s sound. This accent mark only goes with the letter “c” — it's not found under any other letter. Two common words that contain cedillas are garçon pronounced gar–Sohn. (“boy”, or “waiter”) and français (French!) - pronounced frahn-say
The Acute Accent (L'Accent Aigu):
The acute accent also known as accent aigu is placed above the e vowel and changes the sound to ay. The aigu points upward and to the right. The aigu is placed on the end of a word to indicate that the letter e is pronounced like ay, as in marché (market), pronounced somewhat like mar-shay. To pronounce “é” accurately, position your tongue like you're about to say “ay”, but once you start making noise, don't move your tongue or lips.
The Grave Accent (L'Accent Grave) :
The grave accent can be found above an “a”, an “e”, or a “u” (à/è/ù). However, it only changes the pronunciation of the letter e. It makes the 'e ' sound like ehh. It produces an ehh sound like that in 'set' or 'get'. An example of the use of the grave accented e can be found in très (treh, meaning very). On the a and u, it helps distinguish between words that are spelt the same, such as ou (or) and où (where).
The Circumflex (L'Accent Circonflexe):
This is a little pointed hat that can sit on top of any of the vowels a, e, i, o and u. It looks like this ^ (: â, ê, î, ô, or û). its usage is somewhat more complex than the ones we have discussed above. First, it tells you how to pronounce “a”, “e”, and “o”:
- “â” is pronounced roughly like an English “ah”
- “ê” is pronounced like an English “eh”
- “ô” is pronounced roughly like an English “oh” as in “boat”.
- However, when placed over an “i” or “u”, a circumflex doesn't change the pronunciation, except in the combination “eû”. Jeûne (“fast” ) is pronounced differently from Jeune (“young”).
The Trema (L'Accent Tréma) :
Finally, the trema is formed by two dots that are placed over the second of two consecutive vowels. It can be found above an “e”, “i”, or “u”: (ë, ï, ü). It is to show that the vowels are sounded separately. You may recognise the trema from the names Zoë and Chloë. Here, the trema tells you that the “o” and “e” are pronounced separately – so they rhyme with “snowy”, not “toe”.
How The Letters “e” and “r” Are Pronounced In French?
One of the most basic features of any language is its alphabet. The French alphabet is the same one used in the English language. However, the pronunciations are different. If you want to learn French, learning the alphabet is the very first thing to do. It will help you with vocabulary words, grammar, spelling, accent, etc.
Focusing on the letters and their pronunciation will help you know how to correctly read in French and how to pronounce the words you are reading easily.
The more you master the pronunciation techniques, the better your accent will be. Let's take a look below at how to master the two most important letters in French.
Pronouncing the letter 'R'
The letter r is said to be one of the most difficult sounds in french to pronounce for some people. R has a hoarse sound produced at the back of the throat. Try not to think of this letter as an r. The French r is nothing like the English r. The French r is pronounced in the throat.
You can go on youtube to audibly hear how its sounds. Follow the below step by step instructions to help in pronouncing the r sound better.
- open your mouth and close your throat as if you're trying to not swallow a mouthful of liquid, and say "k" carefully, a few times
- Pay attention to where in your throat the k sound is made. We'll call this the K note
- Begin slowly closing your throat until you can almost feel the K note. Your throat should be only partially constricted.
- Tense the muscles around the K note.
- Gently push air through your partially constricted throat.
- Practice saying "ra-ra-ra over and over again.
Pronouncing the letter 'E'
The French letter E can be pronounced in several different ways — such as a long A sound, and short E sounds. You can go on youtube to audibly hear how its sounds.
- The silent “e”: accomplished by not pronouncing the vowels at the end of words like devinette, cerise, etc.
- The “e” in the following words are pronounced like “è”: Destin, respect, etc.
- The “e” in the following words is pronounced as “é”: descender, ressusciter, etc.
Silent Letters in French
Silent letters are written but not said aloud. It can be especially difficult to navigate these as they can vary from dialect to dialect. Knowing when to pronounce the silent letters in French is essentially the golden rule of learning to pronounce words in the French language.
One recent research estimated that 28% of French words end with a silent letter and this doesn’t take into account all the silent letters at the beginning or in the middle of French words.
Let us take a look at some of the most silent letters in French (h and e) and what their pronunciation is all about. The letter h is usually found at the beginning of a word in French.
The good news is that it is never pronounced unless it is part of a letter combination like ch or ph. A silent -e is the most common silent letter you will encounter in French. It is also the only vowel that isn’t always pronounced. A rule is that when it is placed at the end of a word, you can usually count it out.
Improve Your French Accent By Listening To Others
The importance of oral comprehension cannot be overemphasized. It is very important to listen to French audio or have conversations in any language to improve on your accent.
Some ways in which you can improve your accent via listening are:
- Watching French films and series
- Listening to the radio in French
- Watching French News
- Speaking with native French speakers
- Listening to people online eg watching youtube videos on how to pronounce some french words you find difficult to say.
Remember that the goal of perfecting the French accent isn’t to forget your foreign accents, but instead, to try and express yourself as best you can in French for better communication.
Get A French Tutor On Superprof Nigeria
Superprof Nigeria is the best tutoring platform in Nigeria with over a thousand tutors who teach various subjects, skills, languages and crafts. You can improve your French accent or even get to learn how to speak french or any language by contacting one of the many tutors on our platform.
Tutors advertise their services, prices and state their location as well as their willingness to travel, so you can find someone near to you as well as ensure that their profile matches what you're looking for. You can decide to take lessons privately online or get a tutor to come to teach you at the comfort of your home.
There are many benefits to using Superprof in your search for a tutor to help you improve the french accent or whatever subject or skills you want to learn.
Not only can you look for a tutor in the comfort of your own home, but you can also learn a lot about each tutor thanks to the information displayed on each of their profiles, have an idea of what they look like through their profile picture, reviews left by other people or students they have worked with. All these and more are available at your disposal before contacting them.
If you need a French tutor today, just visit the website www.superprof.ng and you are on your way to speaking French with the right accent with one of the best tutors.
You can also read up:
- Ways To Ensure Your French Language Skills Is Satisfactory
- French Language Courses: Time It Will Take To Start Speaking The Language Fluently?
- Pathways To Learning French And Their Price Comparison In Nigeria
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