I need to give credit to Seycen at The Translation Practice for inspiring this post. She introduced me to the wonderful YouTube videos made by Cheryl A. Demharter and her company FrenchSounds. I’ve always been of the extremely biased opinion that my French pronunciation is better than the average American. I credit a decade of listening to (and trying to sing along with) French pop music for that. Don’t worry, I make up for my lovely French accent by butchering all of the grammar! For me, it’s a lot easier to hear and mimick the sounds of the language than it is to learn its structure.
That being said, the FrenchSounds YouTube page is a fabulous resource for learning how to pronounce difficult French words. Ms. Demharter is so clear and descriptive when she explains the way the mouth should feel and where the tongue should be. I’ve watched a handful of her videos so far and this one is my favorite. She describes how to pronounce -tion and -sion in French. It reminds me of the first language class I ever took in France. We spent nearly an hour going around the room pronouncing the word international, and I’m pretty sure our teacher was never satisfied with the way any of us said it. It looks like a simple enough word. It’s an English word, too, after all. But it’s so completely different in French, and every syllable of it is a difficult sound for anglophones to master.
The hardest thing about mastering pronunciation is that no one ever really corrects you if you’re wrong. Grammar and vocabulary mistakes are both easier to pinpoint and fix. It’s hard to even know if you’re making a pronunciation mistake. In my head, I think my accent is pretty good, but maybe it’s really not. Ms. Demharter offers private lessons at her office in Connecticut. Maybe I’ll have to go take a few!