French spoken-word podcasts or MP3s
February 25, 2005 12:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in acquiring a little comfort with spoken French - passively, by listening to it. I looked through a Podcast archive (and looked through some AskMe threads), and could only find French music. I'm interested in news, stories, interviews -- basically just listening to French people talking. Even stuff intended for children might be good.

Since I don't speak French, it's a bit of a challenge to go looking for this stuff. Can anyone recommend a way to find spoken-language French MP3's or podcasts?
posted by amtho to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Radio France Internationale
posted by dame at 12:45 PM on February 25, 2005

Radio-Canada International.

RCI has a number of daily feeds in english, french and a number of other languages -- they know that a good number of their listeners are not native speakers, so the broadcasts are not as full of idioms and other confusing bits...

(I used to work on the RCI english newsdesk.)
posted by docgonzo at 12:55 PM on February 25, 2005

I also recommend RFI: I record two hours of it every night, dump it on the iPod and have it there to listen to if I'm in the mood. I average about five hours of listening to it a week.

Also, I recommend Radio Monaco. Although RFI's content is more professional, more thoughtful, and more worldly, RMC is has a program format more like a small-town American AM station, including call-ins. This means constant weather reports (repetition is good), the same commercials over and over (repetition is good), and because of the call-ins lots of unprofessional French voices (that are harder to understand than the mostly smooth RFI voices, and are in different regional accents).
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:17 PM on February 25, 2005

I should have added that the unprofessional voices on RMC are a good thing: they help you with understanding many Francophones, not just the journo-cadre (although RFI does often have many African Francophones, depending upon the program).
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:19 PM on February 25, 2005

I learned about French in Action at Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools. It's a little different than the raw French media you asked for, but it really is just "listening to French people talking" - tailored towards non-French speakers. You can watch all of the episodes online for free, and I've been really happy with it.
posted by monkeystronghold at 1:32 PM on February 25, 2005

I just listened to Radio-Canada International for a bit, and I just wanted to point out that they're speaking Quebecois dialect. Which is great if that's what you want, but a slightly wrong road if you're a beginner trained in textbook standard french-- you're going to miss more of the conversations.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:35 PM on February 25, 2005

Listening to tapes and CDs of Pelle Svanslos and other Swedish children's stories with my daughter helped me pick up spoken Swedish. Of course, I could already read Swedish which was important in mapping sounds to words. But because they were kid's stories, the dialogue and vocabulary was easier to understand.

I'd recommend both French language films (with English subtitles) and well known stories in French on CD for immersive learning without real immersion. A French version book-on-tape for a favorite adult book might also be an idea.

Unfortunately, you are much more likely to find these items for sale in a bookstore than in MP3 format online. But I checked a popular Bittorrent site and found a French version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that could be excellent.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 1:40 PM on February 25, 2005

I got a good batch of recommendations for French films the other day. I've also found that switching to the French-language track on DVDs that you've already watched in English is helpful, even if you leave English subtitles on.

Leaving French radio/TV on in the background is helpful, even if you're not actively listening to it. That was one of the best recommendations my French prof gave me last year, since your brain will pick up on French intonation patterns and suddenly you can pick out individual words instead of hearing just a lot of gibberish.

CanalPlus has a lot of clips online. Mouse-over Et Tellement + Encore to get to show descriptions and clips. Les Guignols is like This Hour is 22 Minutes with puppets, and they have Les Simpsons, though I will warn you that listening to Marge Simpson in a scratchy French voice seems startlingly WRONG.
posted by heatherann at 2:26 PM on February 25, 2005

Also, check if your DVDs have French dubbing. That way you don't actually have to buy new things in French and you get the help of already knowing what's going on.
posted by dame at 2:52 PM on February 25, 2005

France 2 clips. Try to watch a news story that you are already familiar with. And what dame said - nothing better than to watch a movie you like and know in French.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:26 PM on February 25, 2005

Response by poster: These are interesting - thanks!

I think I should clarify, though - my vision is that I'd play these from an iPod, while I clean, make lunch, etc. So, audio files are really best. The radio stations look particularly helpful.
posted by amtho at 4:50 PM on February 25, 2005

I tend to be able to understand Hatian French better. Are there any similar Francophone options?
posted by scazza at 7:39 AM on February 26, 2005

Scazza, you are lucky you live in Brooklyn: WNYE (91.5) broadcasts Haitian shows, but at odd times, and I don't know that they are made into mp3s. Their website is being retarded right now, but check later and see if any time matches you.
posted by dame at 12:00 PM on February 26, 2005

I tend to understand German better. Any similar German options? :) (seriously!)
posted by sirion at 7:59 PM on February 26, 2005

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