Real-life examples

Studying real-life examples of spoken French

I strongly believe in the importance of training the ear to decode authentic spoken French. You can’t have a conversation if you don’t understand what is being said.

Learners often get discouraged because unscripted spoken French seems fast and difficult to understand. For this reason I have created a series of detailed studies of real-life examples (2 – 5 minutes) of French conversations. In my opinion, these studies are the most valuable part of this blog because they show clearly how spoken French really works.

In part 1 of each study, I present the recording, a detailed transcription and a translation. In part 2, I give some general observations about the language used, a series of more technical comments on specific points and finally some ideas about how to incorporate this material into your own speaking style.

Once you get past the stream of sounds and see the words on paper or screen, you will notice that spoken French is not very difficult to understand at all. One key observation is how repetitive a lot of the language is. Most of the time people use a small number of words in many different ways. The grammar is actually quite simple. It’s just that in the beginning everything goes by in a blur.

Here in one convenient location are the links to all the real-life studies. But first I recommend that you have a look at my post: How to use the real-life examples.

For a quick overview of these recordings, here is a sampler of the real-life examples.

For readers who want to work extensively with these examples, I have collected all the transcriptions, translations and technical commentaries into one pdf document available for purchase and instant download. This is particularly convenient if you want to print out specific pages or make annotations. About 100 pages in length.

A. Samples of spoken French from Europe

1. Example 1: two women discussing how to answer difficult questions during job interviews.
2. Example 2: two young women talking about getting into synchronized swimming.
3. Example 3: a conversation between a female TV host and a male chef in a cooking show.
4. Example 4: a young male student talking with a male corporate lawyer about entering the profession.
5. Example 5: a conversation between two men about an Internet business.
6. Sample French movie dialog: Transcript of the first four minutes of the film, Le dîner de cons (no audio).

B. Samples of spoken French from Quebec

1. Example 1: a female government employee and a male radio host discussing how to prepare for job interviews.
2. Example 2: a male and a female journalist from Radio-Canada conducting tastings of ice cream at a market in Montreal. Many other voices from the public.
3. Example 3: two young male television hosts talking very informally about show business.
4. Example 4: various samples of different voices including a female police officer speaking in street French.
5. Example 5: a lawyer questioning a witness in a courtroom.
6. Example 6: a video clip by a very popular comedic group called Les Têtes à claques.


C. Samples of spoken French from Africa

1. Example 1: a male journalist from the Cameroons and a female journalist from Senegal talking while cooking an African dish called yassa.