How to improve the oral comprehension in French ?

How to improve the oral comprehension in French ?

To receive the bonus 12 tips to learn a language”, please fill out the form on the right of the screen or at the end of the article !

You can subsribe :

Hi English speakers who want to Learn French 🙂 !

In this article I share with you How to improve the oral comprehension in French (and others foreign languages) ?

There are 4 things to consider when learning a foreign language are :

  • Written production
  • Oral production
  • Written comprehension
  • Oral comprehension

In this article I talk about oral comprehension.

Oral comprehension is not taught in school, we do not learn to listen. School education in general (not specifically for languages) is not adequate.

To improve one's knowledge of a foreign language, it is important to focus on one of these four elements at once, to study one element at a time. For example, if I want to improve the oral comprehension, I choose, during a time that I defined beforehand, to work only listening. It is important, to build a good foundation in the learning and improvement of foreign languages (so also of French), not to work several elements in the same exercise. When I will feel more comfortable I will mix together several of these 4 elements.

What is oral comprehension ?

Listening in a foreign language in 4 steps :

  • Perception
  • The segmentation
  • Interpretation
  • Information processing


Oral comprehension

Each language structures the sounds in different ways, for example, the sound of an animal can be translated by different sounds and syllabic structures, for example the purr of a cat : ronron, purr, schnurren,…


Each language is also part of a frequency range of its own which more or less overlaps the frequency register of another language.


In the same way that the violinist has to play a lot and listen to the sounds he produces on his instrument to find the right note and manage to produce it again, the foreign language learner has to listen a lot to learn how to "tune his ear " on the good frequency of the language he discovers. For this there is only one thing that is valid is active listening. And not passive listening.

For example, actively listening is like this :

  • Watch (listen) a small piece of a movie, for example 5 or 10 seconds
  • Listen again to understand what I did not understand the first time
  • Repeat the same thing until I can differentiate the sounds, understand all the words and make sense of what I hear

The segmentation


The brain compares the sounds or groupings of sounds heard (which it has segmented into syllables) to those it already knows to identify the words that correspond to them. This stage is based on prior knowledge, that of words and that of possible combinations of words. If this knowledge is insufficient the decoding of what the person I am listening to will not be precise enough or fast.

Then comes the stage of understanding.



If the theme on which the listener is listening is familiar to him, the vocabulary will be more easily recognized. Likewise, the more rich and extensive the vocabulary of the learner, the easier and quicker his comprehension will be.

Information processing


Finally, the brain analyzes the meaning of the different words that follow each other in what the listener listens to extract an idea.

Practice listening actively for good oral comprehension


Find an activity you like to do :

  • Watch a movie
  • Listen to the radio
  • Listen to songs
  • Work with audiobooks

Go back and forth between oral comprehension and oral production

Very important

  • Listen and repeat what I hear, if I cannot (or I don’t dare) say aloud (if I'm in the bus for example), I repeat in my head.
  • Listen for a few seconds, listen to this short passage until I hear, understand and repeat it.
  • I do not understand a word, I cannot hear it, I look at the subtitles, I learn the word or the end of the sentence and I listen again. By going back and forth between oral production and listening I improve my ability to understand, I enrich my library with new sounds.

Producing allows you to hear better and improve your listening skills.

To complete my article about oral comprehension you can read How to Quickly Improve Your Understanding of Spoken French from

Thanks for reading this article 🙂

What do you want to learn about the French language? What are your needs ?

Tell me in the comments, I will write an article about it !

Thank you 🙂

Thomas Ricomard

Share the article :

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *