Bonjour! As the second most common language in Canada, and a top 10 spoken language around the world, French speakers are very common. If you grew up speaking French, you likely know how a French accent can affect how listeners understand you. Let's learn about some common mistakes French speakers make when speaking English!
Consonants - This way or Zat way?
A common problem for those learning English is that 'TH' sounds are rare among the world's languages. French speakers tend to change the 'TH' sounds to a 'Z' or 'S' sound. As such, words such as 'this', 'that', and 'the' sound like 'zis', 'zat', and 'zuh' when spoken.
The French language does not have an 'H' sound, so it is often silent in their language. As such, French speakers may exclude the 'H' consonant when speaking English. For example, 'have' becomes 'ave', and 'history' becomes 'istory'.
Vowels - Kid or keed?
French speakers may pronounce many English words differently due to how they're used to pronouncing their vowels in the French language. Common mistakes include pronouncing 'ih' sounds in English as 'ee' sounds, as well 'ahr' (like in cart) sounds pronounced as an 'ah' sound.
For example, 'ship' sounds like 'sheep', 'kid' sounds like 'keed', 'read' sounds like 'rid', and 'cart' sounds like 'cat'.
Another common vowel change are the 'O' and 'U' sounds in certain words. In English for example there is a distinct difference in pronouncing 'look' versus 'Luke'. However French speakers may pronounce them the same, meaning 'look' and 'Luke' are nearly indistinguishable when spoken by them. Another example is saying 'budget' in English, as a French speaker may pronounce it more like 'boo-jit'.
French speakers may stress different syllables compared to English speakers when speaking English. For example, 'idea' in English stresses the second syllable, so it sounds like 'eye-dee-ah'. A French speaker may pronounce it as 'ih-dee-ah'), by stressing the first syllable.
Those are some common mistakes French speakers may make when speaking English. This is not an exhaustive list but should help you get started on your journey to speaking English well!
Learn more about common mistakes from our blog posts here!