What I'd like to know is that whether French kids aged about 4 or 7 have difficulty reading or writing French than other kids with the different languages. They can speak fluent French of course, but French pronunciation and written text are way different. French don't pronounce the final consonant with some exceptions and there are many kinds of varieties of spelling one can pronounce a single vowel.

How is it really like in France?

  • There is a question very similar to yours and you might want to look at it first; it hasn't had much success as a question though (it's on hold) and that might be the fate of yours (I can't tell myself whether it should be put on hold or not); the question: french.stackexchange.com/q/37988/17649
    – LPH
    Aug 18, 2019 at 21:26
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    @LPH There's absolutely no similarity between a question asking for personal advice that can only receive opinion based answers if you haven't first listened to the speaker in order to diagnose their difficulties with a professional approach and this question which only requires factual scientific knowledge to be answered. The reasons why French children have difficulties learning reading and spelling their own language has been the subject of numerous studies by linguists. It has been studied for other languages as well of course.
    – None
    Aug 19, 2019 at 9:08
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    @Laure There is on the contrary a great similarity between "How do French people live with it, speaking like that?" and "How is it really like in France?".
    – LPH
    Aug 19, 2019 at 9:12
  • Your title misrepresents your question, which is about spelling not learning the alphabet. And 4-year-old kids who cannot read are not being the curve. Aug 19, 2019 at 11:06
  • You are right. I've changed it.
    – Victoria
    Aug 19, 2019 at 11:09

1 Answer 1


They indeed likely have more difficulty than Spanish, Italian and German kids who use much more regular spelling and phonetic rules.

However, English speaking kids are reported to have more difficulties, given English spelling extreme irregularity.

Excerpt from "Troubles dans l’apprentissage de la lecture, Anne-Marie Chartier s’entretient avec Franck Ramus."

À la fin de la première année d’apprentissage de la lecture, les enfants allemands, suédois, italiens, espagnols, grecs, font moins de 6 % d’erreurs quand ils lisent des mots, alors que les enfants français et danois en font presque 30 %, et les enfants anglais 67 % (c’est-à dire pour deux mots sur trois)

A metric that can help figuring out the difficulty of reading in a given language is the ratio between the phonemes (all different vowels and consonants a language uses) and the graphemes (all possible ways to write the phonemes).

An ideal language would have a ratio of 1 (strictly unambiguous phonetic writing). Esperanto, Serbo-Croatian and Finnish are there or very close to while French is poor (3.51) and English is trailing (5.22) : See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonemic_orthography

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    Hence the great proportion of people with dyslexia among French and English natives (here if you're interested). Hardly any among Finnish natives which has a 100 % grapheme-phoneme correspondence.
    – None
    Aug 19, 2019 at 6:03

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