Good news, bonne nouvelles tout le monde ! French isn’t just about grammar rules and complicated verb forms. With its 15 vowels, it’s a language notably rich with sounds. Thanks to a multitude of quality audio content available over the web, you can listen to the French pronunciation and train yourself to speak. Les virelangues (EN: tongue-twisters) are worth practicing! It’s not common to hear school kids challenging one another to pronounce those famous national tongue-twisters. Give them a try too!

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French pronunciation

Don’t be shy. Ask your conversation tutor to take twenty minutes on practicing those French tongue-twisters together. If you want to get there, you’ll really want to ar-ti-cu-late. You can also challenge your tutor to pronounce tongue-twisters in a different language too!

The silent « h » as in haricot 

  • La pie niche haut. Où niche le hibou ? Le hibou niche ni haut ni bas ! 

 The vowel [ø] as in cheveux 

  • Un voeu pieu, un vieux pneu.

Un chasseur sachant chasser sait chasser sans son chien.

Trois tortues trottaient sur un toit très étroit.

Les chaussettes de l'archiduchesse sont-elles sèches ?

Trois gros rats gris.

Panier, Piano.

Pour qui sont ces serpents qui sifflent sur vos têtes ?

Je veux et j'exige d'exquises excuses

French pronunciation practice

The vowels [y] and [u] as in du jus and coucou

  • As-tu vu le tutu de tulle de Lulu ?
  • Juste juge, jugez Gilles jeune et jaloux.
  • Une tortue sourde court sur le mur.
  • Un hibou roux hulule comme un fou.

 The dreaded French [ʁ] as in rare 

  • Dis-moi gros gras grand grain d’orge, quand te dégros gras grand grain d’orgeras-tu ? 

Even as a native speaker of French, I must admit that c’est pas du gâteau (EN: they’re no piece of cake.)

Virelangues in French Children Literature

Children, teenagers and people chilling out and having family time are the most likely to challenge each other with tongue-twisters. You can find really good books on that topic, as for instance Virelangues et Trompe-Oreilles with unique illustrations by Henri Galeron. Most often, children don’t read books like this one alone. They’ll read it with an adult who can be a parent, grand-parent or an educator. That’s another reason why you should ask your French tutor to practice them ensemble (EN: together).


Virelangues et Trompe-Oreilles, by Henri Galeron

Youtube channel by French Vocal Coach Jean Sommer