Fast Spoken French: Understanding French Slang

Understand fast spoken French, by learning French everyday slang.

For instance, you might hear an everyday French sentence like:
L’Alsace a vraiment des trucs trop chouettes, dont des spécialités de dingue !

It’s not a sentence we’d use in writing, for a school essay or a business report. But it’s how French people actually talk in everyday life: with colloquial vocabulary.

Today, you’ll learn some everyday French slang… while getting a tour of Eastern France.

Want all the vocabulary of the lesson ?

1. Understanding Spoken French: Alsace presentation

Here’s a simple text about the Alsace region, in “correct” French. Watch the video to hear me read it aloud. Before reading the translation below, what can you understand?

L’Alsace est une région de l’Est de la France, à côté de l’Allemagne, entre le Rhin et les Vosges. Elle a toujours eu une position culturelle un peu particulière entre ces deux pays. Avec le temps, elle a développé sa propre langue et sa culture. Et c’est remarquable.

Alsace is an area in Eastern France, close to Germany, between the Rhine river and the Vosges mountains.
It always had a peculiar cultural situation, between these two countries. With time, it developed its own language and culture. And that’s remarkable.

On en connaît surtout les clichés de carte postale : comme les maisons à colombages très jolies, les coiffes alsaciennes traditionnelles, les cigognes… La choucroute et les tartes flambées sont fantastiques !

We mainly know of the famous clichés on the postcards: such as the beautiful half-timbered houses, traditional Alsatian headdresses, storks… Alsatian sauerkraut and “flamed pies” are incredible.

Si tu passes en Alsace, tu peux te promener dans les Vosges ou dans les grandes villes, comme Colmar ou Strasbourg. Et si tu viens en décembre, tu pourras aller voir les marchés de Noël, ils sont incroyables !

If you ever come to Alsace, you can have a walk in the Vosges mountains or in the big cities such as Colmar or Strasbourg. And if you come in December, you could go and see the Christmas markets, they’re fantastic!

2. Understanding Spoken French: Informal Grammar

In real life, though, our vocabulary is not so formal. There’s a lot more slang in everyday spoken French! For example:

These are not swear words, or even rude!

They’re all very mild slang. Chouette, truc and trop even have a meaning where they’re part of “correct” French. Checker is an example of how French borrows (and French-ify) English verbs. It’s especially common in a white-collar environment. Chelou and Ouf are made with le verlan.

*** Le truc en plus ***
Le verlan is a way of making slang words by reversing the syllables in a “normal” word. For instance, fou (= crazy) becomes “ou-f”, ouf. Louche (= strange) becomes “che-lou”, chelou. And (à) l’envers (= the other way around) becomes “vers-l’en,” verlan ! Just like “slang” is itself slang for “shortened language.”
***

The extra mile: more colloquial French

Dive deeper into some of these popular French slang words (and a few others), with my previous lesson:
10 Popular French Slang Words for Everyday Life

3. Understanding Spoken French: “Spoken French” reading

Listen to the “spoken French” reading about Alsace. Can you spot the colloquial vocabulary? Using the previous lessons in this series, what other signs of informal French can you find?
Watch the video again until you can hear and understand everything!

L’Alsace, c’est une région de l’Est de la France, à côté de l’Allemagne, entre le Rhin et les Vosges. Culturellement, elle a toujours eu une position un peu chelou entre ces deux pays. Avec le temps, elle a développé ses propres trucs, comme sa langue et sa culture. Et c’est plutôt chouette.

On en connaît surtout les clichés de carte postale : comme les maisons à colombages trop mignonnes, les coiffes alsaciennes traditionnelles, les cigognes… La choucroute et les tartes flambées sont dingues !

Si tu passes en Alsace, tu peux te balader dans les Vosges ou dans les grandes villes, genre Colmar ou Strasbourg. Et si tu viens en décembre, tu pourras checker les marchés de Noël, ils sont ouf !

Congrats! 🎉🎉🎉 You are one step closer to understanding real everyday French. Keep on practicing with my other lessons, on La Bourgogne (Cutting Letters), La Normandie (Wrong Grammar), and even with a real French TV show! It’s all in the special playlist I made for you, click on your screen to get to the next lesson.

Congrats! 🎉🎉🎉

You’re now one step further into understanding real everyday spoken French!

Get more practice with further free lessons for you:

À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!


→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂

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Join the conversation!

  • Bonjour Madame Géraldine et merci pour le leçon ! I have been unable to download the weekly lessons as PDF for quite a few weeks now. I could before up until then. Now when I press to download as a PDF, it just turns from blue to white and then does not respond. So unable to download the lesson. May I ask if any settings have changed? Can you help me to be able to download the lessons like before? Merci beaucoup in advance.

    • Sev – Can you try clearing your cache and reloading the page? Sounds like it might be a browser issue, as we’re not seeing any problems with downloading the PDFs from here. If you search Google for “clear cache” along with your browser name (Chrome, Safari, etc), it should give you instructions on how to accomplish this. Let us know if that fixes things – thanks!

      Colin
      Comme une Française Team

  • Merci bien Geraldine – j’ai vraiment apprecie cette lecon et je vais certainement checker 😉 les autres.

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