Casse-langue: [u] versus [ou] in French

Last updated: 15/11/2023
Casse-langue: [u] versus [ou] in French
Main Subject
Key stage
Resource type
Student activity
Pronunciation and phonics

A presentation of the difference between the vowel sounds [u] and [ou] in French, with practice recognising and producing the sounds in isolated words and complete sentences.

The PowerPoint includes an explanation of how to make the two vowel sounds, with audio recordings by French native speakers for students to listen to and repeat.

There are tongue-twisters to practise the different sounds within sentences, a pairwork activity on minimal pairs and a maze game where students follow the [ou] sound to get from start to finish. As a final challenge, they can try pronouncing words and phrases that contain both [u] and [ou]. 

An extract from this French pronunciation resource:

To make the ‘u’ sound:

  • Push your lips a long way forward, leaving a very small opening.
  • Let the soft part at the back and top of your mouth (the soft palate) rise as you say ‘u’.

To make the ‘ou’ sound:

  • Push your lips even further forward, making the smallest possible opening.
  • Say a nice round, low ‘ou’.

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