The primary purpose of French audio programs is to teach listeners to comprehend spoken French, and to a lesser extent, how to properly pronounce and to speak French words themselves. Many of the formal audio lessons will give you time to repeat words and phrases you hear, giving you the opportunity to pronounce words as closely as possibly to the native speaker’s pronunciation, which will improve your accent.
Learning oral comprehension should be your first priority if you will be traveling to a French-speaking country soon, though it’s important to make sure you learn more than just guidebook phrases, because you need to be able to understand simple responses, and native speaking French people won’t necessarily respond via the very formal, textbook conversational phrases that you’ve learned.
Learn French Audio CD Programs
The following are some of the the most well-known and highest quality learn French CD programs (see other audio reviews here). The second two courses listed below, Michel Thomas, and Behind the Wheel French, are both also available through Audible on Amazon.
For travelers who need to learn basic French quickly, Pimsleur’s Instant Conversation audio course is consistently one of the, if not the, best-selling French audio courses. Its purpose is to quickly teach useful phrases, grammar, and vocabulary to tourists who need to be able to ask and communicate simple concepts to French speakers. It assumes you have no previous knowledge of the language, and goes at a fairly slow pace to ensure that you retain as much as possible.
If your goal is conversational fluency, Michel Thomas’s natural French speaking course is especially effective because it uses native speakers and real conversations to get you speaking and understanding a more natural, casual French, and help you progress over the 10-CD course to an intermediate verbal comprehension level.
Finally, one of the best comprehensive courses for learning French, if you are planning to learn to write and read in French as well as to speak it and understand it, Behind the Wheel French is a great choice for the audio portion of your learning, and it comes with written material to help you understand the vocabulary and grammar used in each lesson.
Learn French Audio Podcasts
Some French learning podcasts (more reviews of podcasts here) follow a formal order of lessons, but many are either immersive or cover varied topics in each episode.
One of the best beginner’s audio courses on podcast is Learn French by Podcast, which teaches natural, conversational French and contains 147 free episodes. Updated lessons and more comprehensive learn French audio courses are available for a monthly fee from their website.
One of our favorite podcasts for intermediate and advanced learners is Le Journal en Français Facile, a daily updated news podcast that reports the news in French by native speakers. The format is exactly like a normal news podcast except the reporters speak a bit slower, more clearly, and with less idiomatic expressions so that you can learn spoken French at a more advanced level.
What Else to Study
The one concern with studying French with only audio lessons is that you may struggle to create unique sentences on your own and in situations you haven’t studied in your courses if you don’t have a decent grasp of basic French grammar. We have many grammar lessons on this website, so spend some time learning the basics to increase your confidence when actually interacting with French speakers and constructing your own sentences, even if your only goal is to be conversationally proficient or fluent in French.