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Learn how to pronounce the tricky vowel sounds of the French language. 

To learn more about French pronunciation and learn how to use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), please visit our page dedicated to French pronunciation, or watch the video opposite.

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In these videos, vowels are mostly introduced by pairs to help you distinguish sounds that are similar but different. When practising the sounds, do use a mirror. It is important to make sure that your mouth, your tongue and your lips are in the correct position: these three are the only tools responsible for the production of a vowel sound, so if you can't get a vowel sound right, there must be something wrong with one or several of them. It will become natural, but to start with, do pay attention to:

1 - the aperture of your mouth (open, mid, close)

2 - the position of your tongue (front, central, back)

3 - the shape of your lips (relaxed, rounded)

 

The vowel [i]

 

[i]

 

[i]

Mouth: close

Tongue: front

Lips: relaxed

The vowels [e] and [ɛ]

 

[e]

 

[e]

Mouth: close-mid

Tongue: front

Lips: relaxed

[ɛ]

 

[ɛ

Mouth: open-mid

Tongue: front

Lips: relaxed

The vowels [o] and [ɔ]

 

[o]

 

[o]

Mouth: close-mid

Tongue: back

Lips: rounded

[ɔ]

 

[ɔ

Mouth: open-mid

Tongue: back

Lips: rounded

The vowels [y] and [u]

 

[y]

 

[y]

Mouth: close

Tongue: front

Lips: rounded 

[u]

 

[u] 

Mouth: close

Tongue: back

Lips: rounded

The vowels [ø] and [œ]

 

[ø]

 

[ø]

Mouth: close-mid

Tongue: front

Lips: rounded

[œ]

 

[œ]

Mouth: open-mid

Tongue: front

Lips: relaxed

The vowels [ɑ] and [a]

 

[ɑ]

 

[ɑ]

Mouth: open

Tongue: back

Lips: relaxed

[a]

 

[a]

Mouth: open

Tongue: front

Lips: relaxed

The vowels [ã], [ɛ̃], [œ̃] and [õ]