Now I rarely start a course before having sent these two videos to the new students. This little and quick observation exercise makes a tremendous difference later during the work on pronunciation, and you’ll guess why in a moment.
I don’t want the student to pay any attention to whatever they say; in fact they should even watch these videos (or the first minutes of them) with the sound turned down. The only task is to look at the faces and observe their mouths and lips. What can be noticed?
This is a video from the most famous French “youtuber”, Cyprien:
And this is a former French president making an official speech on TV:
I consider very important that the students become aware of this very early on in their learning. It’s really common to see some students embarrassed at first while articulating new sounds: “it doesn’t feel natural”, “I’m going to be ridiculous”. Well, if it doesn’t feel natural that’s good news, they’re doing something different than what they’re used to do in their native language. And if speaking a foreign language doesn’t feel “foreign” at first, they’re certainly doing it wrong! As for the ridicule, if those two can publish a Youtube video with 18 millions of views or make a presidential speech broadcast on all the TV channels, it’s safe to bet that the students are not going to expose themselves to any mockery!