Learning a language with an app like Duolingo is perfectly respectable, but unless you want your French to have a noticeable Siri-like quality, you need to branch out. That’s where sites like Forvo come in.
Aiming to one day have “all the words in the world pronounced,” Forvo relies on users to record the proper pronunciations of words that other users request. So you could, for example, check out the pronunciations of different cities, and if you can’t find the city whose pronunciation you’re uncertain of, just head to the add a word page and put in a request for the word you want.
A nice feature of Forvo is that alongside each recording is a small bit of information about who recorded it, like their gender and country. This adds a nice human touch, but it also adds necessary context about how words sound with different accents. (I found the coronavirus pronunciation guide to be particularly interesting.)
We first wrote about Forvo back in 2008, but a recent post on Reddit reminded us of its usefulness. As a few commenters note, the site is far from perfect, but it’s a great way to crosscheck Duolingo and figure out if its computer-y voice is saying “cacahuete” right, or if it actually is supposed to send a chill down one’s spine.
Forvo stumbles a bit with homographs like “record,” which is pronounced both “wreck-urd” and “ree-cord” in English. For words like this, the speaker usually pronounces it both ways, but I can see how it might be confusing without more context. In other words, Forvo shouldn’t be your one, ultimate destination for pronunciation, but it’s a helpful way to figure out how to make a new word feel comfortable in your mouth without sacrificing accuracy.
This article was originally published in 2008 and was thoroughly updated to meet current Lifehacker style guidelines.