9 french podcasts for learners at every level
Podcasts are all the rage these days–from true crime to feel-good romantic stories, there’s really something for everybody.
Since podcast fever has spread to nearly all corners of the globe, why not listen to some podcasts in French to improve your listening comprehension and fluency? There are all kinds of podcasts in French, from those produced for a native Francophone listening audience to others that are destined for people still trying to learn the language.
Podcasts are a great way to create an immersive environment, which as we know is the key to meaningful language learning. And best of all, most podcasts are free!
So which French language podcasts should you be listening to?
For the Novice French Speaker
If you’re still in the beginning stages of learning French, you’ll probably not want to overwhelm yourself with podcasts meant for native speakers. Try to stick to shorter podcasts, or supplement with podcasts that incorporate some explanations in English. Here are some options:
Coffee Break French is exactly that – a French lesson that you can do during a coffee break at work. These are 10 to 15 minute episodes with the host, Matt, and his student, Ana. While listening to these episodes, you can learn alongside Ana as if you were in an actual French class. Matt’s charismatic personality will draw you in and make these lessons fun and engaging!
Daily French Pod is a podcast for French learners of all abilities, including novices. They offer brief lessons on various aspects of French language and culture, as well as episodes focused on particular elements and phrases of everyday life in France, which they call “Real Life French.” Daily French Pod is conducted entirely in French, but they do make sure to include supports for beginning learners, such as PDF transcripts.
Much like Daily French Pod, anyone can listen to and learn from Podcast français facile, but it may be the most beneficial to beginners. Most episodes (called “textes” on the Podcast français facile website) have two versions of the audio–a slow reading for novice listeners and a faster reading for intermediate or advanced students. The texts can be broken down either by level or by theme, and each episode has an accompanying transcript, so you can read along as you listen.
For the Intermediate French Speaker
Now that you have some more experience with the language under your belt, you can move on to podcasts that are a little more complex. Here are some ideas for podcasts that will help boost your fluency and reinforce the concepts that you’ve already learned!
Français Authentique is a podcast that aims to introduce learners to authentic cultural and linguistic elements of French. The episodes are generally pretty brief–no more than 15 minutes, usually–and feature a wide range of topics, from grammatical elements of the language (like an episode dedicated to the pronoun “de”) to more general subjects like managing anxiety or new and interesting technology. The host, Johann, is a native French speaker, but he speaks slowly and clearly, making this podcast perfect for Intermediate listeners.
One Thing in a French Day is one of the most well-known (and longest running) French language podcasts on the web. Episodes are released three times a week, and each one focuses on a small aspect of the host’s daily life. The clips are short, less than five minutes each, but Laetitia speaks at a more natural speed, so the shorter length may help you from feeling overwhelmed. Like many of the other podcasts on this list, episodes of One Thing in a French Day also come with transcripts.
If you’re looking to keep up-to-date on current events in the Francophone world while also practicing your listening skills, News in Slow French is a great option. This podcast is exactly as advertised: a newscast read by native French speakers who deliberately speak slowly so that Intermediate listeners can easily understand. Each episode is broken down into four or five different news stories, so you can pick the subject that you find the most interesting if you don’t want to listen to the entire newscast.
For the Advanced French Speaker
If you’re an Advanced speaker, you’re probably ready to move on from podcasts centered around language learning. Now is a great time on your path to proficiency to listen to authentic podcasts–that is to say, podcasts that are created by native French speakers for native French speakers. You won’t understand everything right away, but that’s okay! Focus first on getting the gist of the message and just keep listening, the more you listen, the more your comprehension will improve over time.
Le Tchip is an authentic French language podcast that focuses predominantly on black pop culture (Le Tchip is often referred to as “un podcast afro”) and other important current events, like the “Me Too” movement and world politics. Though the hosts use a lot of slang and other vocabulary that even advanced listeners might not yet be familiar with, the topics are global enough that you should definitely be able to get the gist of the discussion. Le Tchip is also a great podcast for anyone who is looking to hear what informal, everyday spoken French sounds like.
Radio France International’s Grand Reportage is like a long-form version of News in Slow French, but the generally quick pace of the reporters, as well as the length of the episodes, makes Grand Reportage better suited for advanced listeners. There’s a new episode each day, and this documentary-style podcast focuses on telling in-depth stories about political conflict, environmental issues, and the human experience.
Another offering from RFI, each episode of Autour de la Question focuses on one of life’s many puzzling questions, such as: Pourquoi avoir peur des serpents? and Le feu: ami ou ennemi? In an attempt to find the answers, the host, Caroline Lachowsky, interviews experts from the field–like biologists, chemists, and psychologists. Autour de la Question is playful and upbeat, and the episodes are always engaging and informative. By listening to this podcast, you may find yourself learning more than just French!
As with all skills in French, the more you practice listening, the easier it becomes. Additionally, the more you can make your practice fun, the more inclined you’ll be to do it. Not only that, you can easily import the audio and and create a lesson in LingQ – so pick a podcast and get listening!
Megan is currently teaching English in Lyon, France and working on her graduate degree in French and Francophone Studies.
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