jeudi 24 décembre 2009

ESL languages French proficiency test Part III

ESL languages French proficiency test 


On 11 September I scored 28/40 A2-B1  


On 30 October I scored 35/40. B1.



On 24 December (today) I scored 36 out of 40 questions answered correctly! Votre niveau est approximativement avancé - B2

Joyeux Noël



I hope you all have a lovely holiday season with your family and friends... I will be sitting on the beach under an umbrella, eating an ice-cream while you all huddle by the fireplace admiring the snow outside ;)

J'espère que vous passerez un sympa noël avec vos familles et vos amis. Je vais me reposer sur la plage sous un parasol, et manger une glace pendant que vous vous rassemblez autour de la cheminée et regardez la neige dehors ;)

(photo by michauku on flickr)

---

18 Dec, 2010. One year later.. corrections:

J'espère que vous passerez un Noël sympa avec vos familles et vos amis. Je vais me reposer sur la plage sous un parasol, et manger de la glace pendant que vous vous rassemblez autour de la cheminée en regardant la neige dehors ;)

vendredi 18 décembre 2009

Some cultural differences between France and anglo countries

I was having this rather interesting conversation with a French friend the other day that started with driving speed limits, and ended up being about teenage binge drinking and the morning after pill.

A few months ago, a friend told me about this book Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life. I would've bought it or read it if it was about cities around the world and not just the US but I've read the blurb through Amazon, and seen it in a book shop. You can also check out the interesting "Who's your city?" website here.

The premise, according to Richard Florida, is that where you live should be one of the most important decisions of your life. Most people think that whom you marry or what kind of job you get is important, but Richard says that where you live actually affects what kind of person you will meet (and later marry) or what kind of job you will get/do...

But it's not only where you live, and your neighbours, but the kinds of people you hang around with too. I've read way too many books and articles about this psychological stuff and think it's very very true. Basically your friends are a true reflection of yourself. For example, if you live in an area where there are a lot of overweight people, or most of your friends are, you are more likely to become overweight than someone else who lives in a place with few overweight people. From my personal observations, the further into the city you go, the fewer overweight people there are because, obviously, they walk and use public transport more and they also would have (generally speaking) a higher education and higher income...

I know I am totally getting off the track here... but to get back to the topic, so I asked my friend what the speed limit was in France and he said 130 km/hr and then commented that there was no limit on some German roads (as everybody knows) yet they have fewer accidents... so we got talking about how putting restrictions and limitations on people's lives can actually make things worse... we were both in agreement about that...

When I started researching about what it's like to live in France, I discovered that it's got one of the highest life expectancy rates, and is ranked number 1 in the world for healthcare. Another thing I found interesting was that both Japanese and French food is healthy and delicious, and both have high life expectancy rates, and there were two books written called French Women Don't Get Fat and Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat and the best (IMHO) skincare and cosmetics brands are also French and Japanese. Suffice to say, they know how to look after themselves and the more I read about France, the happier I was with my decision to go there and try to make a go of things.

So, it seems that anglo countries are fact 'stricter' with teenagers, and as a consequence they go out of control more. The rates of teenage pregnancy and abortion are much higher in anglo countries than they are in European ones, Britain has been named sickest country in Europe with highest obesity rates and teen pregnancy rates, and the US has the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the world.

The topic of the morning after pill came up totally by accident, and as a joke. I was shocked it was brought up as it wasn't related to anything we were talking about previously... but it got me curious, and I started asking questions and found out that you can buy it in France just over the counter (same as in Australia). In Australia and most other countries it's quite expensive and according to this article it is relatively cheap in France. So of course this brings up all these moral and ethical dilemmas.. if the contraceptive pill (which I haven't really talked about) and morning after pill (not to be confused with the abortion pill RU-486) are so readily available, does it mean that teens will start having sex younger, and more often? Does raising the legal drinking age make things better? From everything that I have read, I am inclined to believe the answer is 'No'.

According to this graph the age of first time sex in France is 18.5 and later than all the anglo countries, and most other European countries.

This is not really supposed to be an "us vs them" article or "anglos vs europeans" or anything like that... but having been brought up in an anglo country, yet not being of anglo origins, I have noticed things like this my whole life. And to be honest, these 'out of control' teens really disgust me... (especially this obsession with drinking and binge drinking antics - and it's not only teens who behave like this either) and if it's not the parents doing and the culture, what is it then?

I guess, the way French parents bring up their kids is far similar to my own culture than the anglo one, so I can relate to it more and the older I get, the more I prefer it. And despite the fact that I'm not a Christian and my family isn't that religious (but my parents were still strict), I turned out to be a 'good girl' without any problems and doing anything underage or illegal. I guess as a parent there is only so much you can do but I still think that being too strict on your kids can often have the opposite effort.. food for thought...

Interesting (related) articles:

From The Times
August 26, 2008
French curb on alcohol sales as teenagers discover le binge drinking


British teenagers worst behaved in Europe

I've studied 2 years of French

Really? Not really. I've studied French for 5.5 months (and been pretty lazy this past month) but I am at the level of someone who has studied it for 2 years. How do I know this? Because when I did my evaluation at the Alliance Française I was told that I could skip all the beginner classes (of which there are 8, 2 years' worth) and also last night was my last French class and if I had started with the same teacher/course from the beginning, it would have also taken me 2 years to get to this level.

Je suis heureuse et fière de moi-même! :D

Yay!

It's snowing in France!



Il neige en France !

I was speaking to my friend (who lives in Northern France) a few days ago and he mentioned it might snow and he didn't want it to happen because it meant a 40 minute drive to work would turn into a 2 hour one. So I can understand how it would inconvenience people greatly. But as a person coming from Australia (where believe it not, it does and can snow in many places/cities, but usually only in the Snowy Mountains area, and for 3 months during winter)... snow is just so... how should I say it... romantic?

Il y a quelques jours, je parlais avec mon ami français (qui habite dans le nord de la France) et il m'a dit que peut-être il neigerait, et il ne voulait pas que ça arrive car ça voudrait dire que le voyage à son bureau deviendra plus long.
Donc, je comprends que ça ne sera pas bien du tout. Mais, comme une Australienne (ou, vous y croyez ou pas, il neige dans quelques endroits/villes, mais d'habitude seulement dans les "Snowy Mountains" et pendant seulement trois mois en hiver)... La neige est juste si... comment dit-on... romantique?



From AFP

Early snow as cold snap hits northwestern Europe (AFP)

PARIS — Early winter snows forced French authorities to close the Eiffel Tower on Thursday and disrupted transport as northwest Europe shuddered under a pre-Christmas cold snap.
The French capital and much of the north of the country awoke to find a seven-centimetre (three inch) blanket of snow, which delayed flights from Charles de Gaulle airport by up to two hours.
The iconic Eiffel Tower was closed to visitors, and train and bus services were delayed in many areas, as daytime temperatures dropped below zero for the first time in the year and black ice coated northern roads.
Snow also fell in Britain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands and weather experts forecast worse to come, with disruption especially in Scotland and northern England.

(Image by Dmitri Kessel for Life magazine)

jeudi 17 décembre 2009

Transparent languages French proficiency test re-visited

5 October test first time - 65%

My score:
Your score = 65%
You are at the Beginner level.
You scored 98 points out of 150.

Part I: French Grammar
You scored 26 points out of 45.
You scored 58% on this section.

Part II: French Grammar
You scored 29 points out of 45.
You scored 64% on this section.

Part III: French Vocabulary
You scored 23 points out of 30.
You scored 77% on this section.

Part IV: French Reading Comprehension
You scored 20 points out of 30.
You scored 67% on this section.

---

17 December - test second time - 85%
You are at the Advanced Beginner level.
You scored 128 points out of 150.

Part I: French Grammar
You scored 35 points out of 45.
You scored 78% on this section.

Part II: French Grammar
You scored 41 points out of 45.
You scored 91% on this section.

Part III: French Vocabulary
You scored 27 points out of 30.
You scored 90% on this section.

Part IV: French Reading Comprehension
You scored 25 points out of 30.
You scored 83% on this section.

---

Woohoo! I am improving! (and no, I don't memorize the questions/answers) ;)

Test my french

Another proficiency test. Only a few questions over 7 pages.

mardi 15 décembre 2009

Cute French English girl singing in Chinese

Check out this post here on Petite Anglaise which I wrote about before, here.

I can understand about 3/4 of what 'Tadpole' is singing and I think it's amazing she effortless switches between 3 languages.

This is a subject that interest greatly, that of second language acquisition and how children learn to pick up languages.

I'm still slowly making my way through Catherine's Petite Anglaise blog and I have to admit I love listening to the sound clips of her adorable and smart daughter!

lundi 14 décembre 2009

Afghan refugees in Paris

Not much French studying being done lately because I have been so tired... tired from what you say? Well in Australia it's summer at the moment and it's also nearly Christmas which means parties, parties, parties... and I love it but I am just SO tired. So when I get home at 1am I don't exactly feel like studying any French!

Anyway...

I subscribe to a few hundreds blogs (!!) about life in France (mostly Paris) and one of them is Emilie Johnson. The story of how she met her man is really interesting (if you didn't know by now, I'm a sucker for these real-life romantic stories) and she seems to have such an interesting life, and her blog shows her love of life and of her family.

But now she has a post that isn't about herself but about refugees. Admittedly I am sometimes ignorant about all the going-ons* in the world (from the banal to the serious) but this post really caught my eye and it is fascinating to say the least. I had goosebumps from reading it. You should read it and I really hope that she inspires more people to think about those less fortunate than us and do something about it.

* Is the word going-ons or goings-on?

mercredi 9 décembre 2009

How to teach English to a French speaker

Just found this great and useful link (Squidoo) by accident!

samedi 5 décembre 2009

Bon Bien Mauvaise Mal

I've been thinking about this a lot over the past few weeks and it's doing my head in! It seems simple but it's not! I've had it explained to me too but I still don't quite get it as there seem to be so many exceptions to the rule..


Here are some links which explain it

French.about.com
Word Reference
French spanish online




Test your knowlege

French.about.com - bon vs bien, mauvaise vs mal
Français facile - bon(ne) ou bien
Français facile - bon bien meilleur mieux
Jeu de l'oie - bon bien mal mauvaise


After reading through all of that I think I understand it better now but I am still not correct 100% of the time...

lundi 30 novembre 2009

Free French books online

Children's library.org

Childrens books forever

Classiques

Gallica

la Bibliothèque Universelle

Project Gutenberg

dimanche 29 novembre 2009

Petite Anglaise the book by Catherine Sanderson

So over the past week or so I read Petite Anglaise and finished it today.

I'd heard about her and her blog a while ago. In fact, I had her blog bookmarked in my RSS reader but I never read much of it (mainly because I didn't want spoilers before I had finished (or started!) reading the book).

I bought the book many months ago but only got around to reading it now...

The book reminded me of Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. Another true story of an early 30s woman at a crossroads in her relationship and her life...

I felt I could relate easily to both these women because I have had many of the same thoughts that they have had, or even if I hadn't, I could relate to their feelings and emotions (some of which were very raw and painful).

I thought the book was about expat life in Paris but it was actually mainly about her relationship/s... I think many people (judging by the criticisms on Amazon) were expecting a different kind of book, a light, fluffy, chick-lit book so they were probably disappointed with Catherine's very emotional tales of her real life. Admittedly I wish she had written more about her earlier life at the beginning... her book covers her from the age of about 18-33 (roughly) and reading it reminded that one's early 20s, a time that seems so different from one's early 30s... a more carefree time with less responsibility and a different view of the world. Everything seemed so much easier back then.

I know these types of books are not everyone's cups of tea but I loved both of them.

I found Catherine's story fascinating and the ending is even more amazing... not mentioned in the book but she was sacked from her job because of her blog. She took them to court and won £44,000, and then of course she got a (£400,000) book deal! Wow!

So I've been slowly making my way through her blog after I'd finished reading her book and admittedly it's not half as interesting. Mainly because the book is more honest and there are no holes in the storyline... the blog seems really disjointed as she admits she leaves out a lot of details.. also being a website, I'm tempted to just scroll past the bits that don't interest me whereas I didn't do that with her book.

Her daughter, 'Tadpole' seems adorable and incredibly intelligent and has been bilingual her whole life but then again her parents both also seem very intelligent.

Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Not sure which of these 3 lovely covers I like the most.. I like them all!







You can also listen to a 40 min interview with her here on the BBC site.

Petite Anglaise the blog (she's actually said that she's going to stop blogging her personal life now and only pop into her blog sporadically).

Added link 10 Feb 2010 Interview with Catherine on a blog

vendredi 27 novembre 2009

21 weeks of learning French

I haven't done a great deal this past fortnight because I've been so busy but also I had some problems with my ipod. It's an older model and holds a whopping 40Gb. I knew that there was NO WAY it could be full but iTunes kept telling me it was full. So there was obviously a problem and I needed to reset it. But before I reset it I needed to back it up (before everything to deleted). But I couldn't simply copy the songs back into iTunes... ARGH. Anyway it's finally all sorted now and it's only 1Gb full instead of being 40Gb full. Phew! So I can continue FSI now...

So far I have:
  • Done up to the end of Coffee Break French - Lesson 57 (of 70 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of Assimil - Lesson 92 (of 113 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of Live Mocha - Lesson 26 (of 50 lessons) (none this week)
  • Done up to the end of French in Action - Lesson 20 (of 52 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of FSI - Lesson 56 (tape 8.5) (of 189 lessons) (none this week)
  • Done up to the end of FSI French Phonology - Lesson 3 (tape 2.1) (of 20 lessons) (none this week)

lundi 23 novembre 2009

A town like Paris - Bryce Corbett




Being so hot yesterday, I didn't do a great deal. I was very lazy and lethargic. Having been lazy and lethargic (and still boiling hot) I wasn't the least bit sleepy and I actually stayed up till 2am reading this book which I bought a few months ago but never got around to reading yet, A Town Like Paris: Falling in Love in the City of Light

I'm pretty sure the title is a parody of the novel (and subsequent film) A town like Alice. At least, that's what I thought of when I read out aloud A town like Paris.

I shouldn't really comment on it yet since I haven't finished it but so far, it reads like a male version of Sarah Turnbull's Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris. They are both Australian, both from Sydney, both around the same age (27-28) when they start their journey, both work in the media and later as freelance journalists... however I found Sarah far more likeable and Bryce seemed rather immature and arrogant sometimes. I even skipped a few pages where he goes on and on about his binge drinking nights. It makes me feel 'old' that that sort of behaviour is just so childish to me!! or maybe because I'm not a 'real' Australian I just don't see the point of getting drunk for the sake of getting drunk?

Still, I do find the book a fun read.. the 'sticker bitch' chapter is particularly hilarious and my favourite so far. I'll do another blog post when I've finished the book so stay tuned!

Oh, and I discovered the author has his own blog here.

dimanche 22 novembre 2009

Busy week

I've had a pretty busy week, and it's been one of the hottest weeks of the year. In fact, I seem to spend a lot of time talking about the weather and temperature because it occupies my mind so much! It's 39 deg C as I type this and expected to hit 41 :(

Speaking of which... I know that you can't say je suis chaud(e) to mean I'm hot, you have to say j'ai chaud(e) (which means 'I have hot(ness)/heat' but I like to translate it as 'I feel hot'), but I was describing something and wanted to say that it's getting hotter and hotter (in my room, in my suburb...) and I'm feeling hotter and hotter.. and I said je deviens chaude which brought on lots of chuckles... I knew it sounded 'wrong' as soon as I said it but I couldn't think of another way to say it (it basically means I'm getting (sexually) excited) LOL...

I also came across another word, the verb jouir, which means 'to enjoy' but I believe it's a bit old fashioned, and nowadays it means something entirely different. It was in one of the homework exercises we were given and when I went over it with one of my French chat buddies he explained what it meant, then in class the teacher explained it has multiple meanings. I tried very hard not to blush or laugh because I already knew what it meant (and the teacher didn't go into details so I don't think the rest of the class knew exactly)...

I met up with 2 French people (in real life!) and spoke with them for many hours each. And they both said my French was really good for having only learnt it for 4 months. They both come from the suburbs of Paris, and I impressed the first person with my knowledge of Paris (since I did so much research as I originally wanted to live there).

I also did an evaluation at the Alliance Française which finally confirmed that I was better than I thought! The teacher said I was too good to be in the beginner classes (and there are 8 levels there!) and said that I should go into the intermediate class.

Everyone I'd spoken to said that my French was at a good level but I guess I found it hard to believe because I'm quite a perfectionist and hard on myself, and I'm usually modest, and I tend to think they are just being nice... but having had my level confirmed at the AF I feel a lot more confident now :) My friend kept saying "I told you so! You never believed me..."

This week was full on for me French-wise yet I hadn't done that much more personal study so I'll skip my weekly update and catch up on it next Thursday/Friday

mardi 17 novembre 2009

Un gars et une fille prennent des cours de langues

I wrote about this show Un Gars, une fille before.. but I just found this hilarious episode where they learn English and Spanish! Warning: profanity ahead.

Oxford University language centre French test

I thought this one was quite good. I scored 31/50 (upper intermediate).

Link here.

vendredi 13 novembre 2009

Easy peasy French proficiency test

The easiest one I've ever done! I scored 26/27 on it. It's flash based. You can find it here on france-pub.com.

C'est trop facile!

19 weeks of learning French

19 weeks. Done 3 weeks/lessons at my French evening classes. I think I'm improving (albeit slowly, I think I've sort of plateaued). I think my reading and writing and listening are all getting better but I definitely need to practise speaking more because although I can say what I want to say, I can't do it without pausing between every word or every 2-3 words! So the sentences become very disjointed.

I've booked myself in for a placement test at the Alliance Française for next week. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. The building is really gorgeous. It was only completed in October and the grand opening was in November so it is quite literally brand new. It is all modern, white, glass, marble, with a curved staircase. It looks much smaller in real life (compared to the pictures on the website) but it's a great place to study. I didn't hear a single person speaking English (apart from myself - haha!) The library has lots of cool books and DVDs which you can borrow... if all goes according to plan, I'm hoping to study there at the beginning of next year.


So far I have:
  • Done up to the end of Coffee Break French - Lesson 51 (of 69 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of Assimil - Lesson 88 (of 113 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of Live Mocha - Lesson 26 (of 50 lessons) (none this week)
  • Done up to the end of French in Action - Lesson 18 (of 52 lessons) (none this week)
  • Done up to the end of FSI - Lesson 56 (tape 8.5) (of 189 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of FSI French Phonology - Lesson 3 (tape 2.1) (of 20 lessons) (none this week)

jeudi 12 novembre 2009

Marion Cotillard for Lady Dior













Marion Cotillard for Lady Dior handbags

The concept: Lady Dior travels to New York for "an encounter between two women in the world's most theatrical city." Colors are dramatic, contrasting the brand's shade of red against a dark backdrop.

Shot by Annie Leibovitz.

Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard has been selected to front the Spring/Summer 2009 print promotional campaign in support of Christian Dior’s Lady Dior handbag collection.

Marion’s Lady Dior ad campaign will debut on the pages of fashion mags in January 2010.

Sexy romantic Paris tourism video

Kisses from Paris, a short promotional film, directed by Yvan Attal


Interesting video! (not sure about the translations though?) I'm not sure if you'd classify it more romantic or more sexy... jugez de vous-même...


Kisses From Paris from Designcollector on Vimeo.

Permettez-moi de me présenter...

I was just reading here on Chez Marseille where the author pointed to this link - Le Défilé de Marques which has a whole series of short interviews with various people. Well, it's more of a monologue than an dialogue but it makes for great listening practice because there are both sexes, a few different ages, and lots of different accents (and speaking speeds!).

Here's Kate's:



Casting Citoyen « Le Défilé de Marques »


and some others:


Casting Citoyen « Le Défilé de Marques »



Casting Citoyen « Le Défilé de Marques »



Casting Citoyen « Le Défilé de Marques »

mercredi 11 novembre 2009

Les bébés crient dans leur langue maternelle



Found this interesting article on le monde.

It's a pretty short but interesting article which claims that babies cry in 'languages'.


French children's stories



Des histoires pour enfants raconter par Aldor.

I found this great blog Aldor (le blog) which features children's stories read out. Unfortunately a transcript isn't included but it's still an awesome resource!

mardi 10 novembre 2009

Adorable fille française qui parle le chinois



This girl is gorgeous! And I can tell you that she has perfect Chinese pronunciation with a Beijing accent!

Ambi Pur eau de toilette



Just came across these funny print advertisements created recently by Sydney Advertising agency, JayGrey. I love them! and how hot is that guy?!

Here's the TVC also, if you are interested.



More info

Grégoire - Ta Main

This song is beautiful!!

Cette chanson est belle!!!



Grégoire - Ta Main (Your Hand)

Tu sais que j’ai du mal,
Encore à parler de toi,
Il parait que c’est normal,
Y a pas de règles dans ces jeux-là.


You know that I have trouble,
Still with speaking to you,
It appears that it's normal,
There aren't rules in these games.

Tu sais j’ai la voix qui se serre,
Quand je te croise dans les photos,
Tu sais j’ai le cœur qui se perd,
Je crois qu'il te pense un peu trop.


C’est comme ça...(x2)

You know I have a voice which tightens,
When I come across you in the photos,
You know I have a heart which loses itself,
I believe that it thinks of you a little too much.

It's like that… (x2)

J'aurais aimé tenir Ta Main,
Un peu plus longtemps… (x2)
J'aurais aimé que mon chagrin,
Ne dure qu’un instant.
Et tu sais j’espère au moins,
Que tu m’entends.

I would have liked to hold Your Hand,
A little longer… (x2)
I would have liked that my sorrow
To last only one moment.
And you know I hope at least,
That you hear me.


C’est dur de briser le silence,
Même dans les cris, même dans la fête,
C’est dur de combattre l’absence,
Car cette conne n’en fait qu’à sa tête.


It's hard to break the silence,
Even in the cries, even in the celebrations,
It's hard to fight the absence,
Because this bitch only acts impulsively.


Et personne ne peut comprendre,
On a chacun sa propre histoire.
On m'a dit qu’il fallait attendre,
Que la peine devienne dérisoire.


C’est comme ça... (x2)

And nobody can understand,
Everyone has his/her own history.
Everyone said that it was necessary to wait,
That the sorrow becomes ridiculous.

It's like that… (x2)


J'aurais aimé tenir Ta Main,
Un peu plus longtemps… (x2)
J'aurais aimé que mon chagrin,
Ne dure qu’un instant.
Et tu sais j’espère au moins,
Que tu m’entends.


I would have liked to hold Your Hand,
A little longer… (x2)
I would have liked that my sorrow
To last only one moment.
And you know I hope at least,
That you hear me.


Je voulais te dire que j’étais fier,
D’avoir été au moins un jour,
Un peu ton ami et ton frère,
Même si la vie a ses détours.


C'est comme ça... (x2)

I wanted to tell you that I was proud,
To have been at least a day,
A little bit your friend and your brother,
Even if life has its detours.

It's like that… (x2)


J'aurais aimé tenir Ta Main,
Un peu plus longtemps… (x2)
J'aurais aimé que mon chagrin,
Ne dure qu’un instant.
Et tu sais j’espère au moins
Que tu m'attends.


I would have liked to hold Your Hand,
A little longer… (x2)
I would have liked that my sorrow
To last only one moment.
And you know I hope at least,
That you wait for me.

lundi 9 novembre 2009

Long-term stay in France on a student visa

Isn't it funny how you find things when you're not looking for them? I always seem to find interesting or useful information on the internet when I'm not actually looking for it! After tearing my hair out trying to find how the student visa procedure worked, I've just found a page on the Alliance Française Lyon website.

It's all explained in plain English. The only thing it doesn't say (and I wished it did!) is how many hours per week you are studying and how many weeks in total the course takes.

First, you must pay 770 € to pre-register. That will get you your registration certificate document which you bring to the French embassy/consulate.

Once approved, you'll get a long stay visa (the site doesn't mention how long though, I'm guessing 6 months or 12 months. The course I imagine goes for at least 6 months)

Then you show the AF your passport (with visa stamp in it) and other documents, pay the balance of your school fees and away you go!

If you are at mid A2 level when you get there, you take the French Language and Culture Programme which takes 597 hours to complete and costs 3,582 € (woah!). It should take you up to C1 level (which sounds rather ambitious to me but I guess it's pretty heavy).

If you are at B2 level already, you can take the Upper French Studies Programme which is 453 hours and costs 2718 €. This course takes you right up to C2 level which means you are pretty much fluent!

De-facto relationships in France - PACs

Last week, in my French class, we were given a newspaper article about the lives of women in France since the 40s, particularly after the 70s.
It mentioned the work, baby, marriage thing (which of course is a hotly debated topic in any country!)...

So anyway, I found out that a de-facto relationship in French is called a concubinage, a union libre or a PACs (which stands for "pacte civil de solidarité", meaning a civil union between 2 people, including homosexuals). PACs has been around for 10 years.

I found two recent articles about the rising popularity of being PACsed in France here and here.

In the second site (France info) there is an interesting graph with statistics at the slightly decreasing rate of marriage and rapidly rising rate of PACsing. It's in Flash so I have uploaded it as a jpg here (click on it to see it larger).

I think the topic is quite fascinating as everyone knows that in most Western countries the age of first marriage and first baby is increasing, and birth rates are generally declining. Also, in France, there isn't as much of a religious impact on people's daily lives so having a de-facto relationship without marriage, or having a child without marriage seems totally OK there because they are so free and liberal...

Both websites are in French so if you can't read it you'll have to use Babelfish or another translator. There are quite a few audio files on the second site too which are good for listening comprehension practice. :)



The age at first marriage seems to the oldest in certain European countries including France. It's also quite old in Australia (stats from nationmaster).

Women

# 1 Sweden: 30.4 years
# 2 Denmark: 30.1 years
= 3 France: 29.1 years
= 3 Spain: 29.1 years
= 5 Norway: 28.6 years
= 5 Australia: 28.6 years
= 7 Finland: 28.3 years
= 7 Netherlands: 28.3 years
= 9 Ireland: 28.2 years
= 9 Switzerland: 28.2 years
= 9 Germany: 28.2 years
# 12 Austria: 27.9 years
# 13 United Kingdom: 27.7 years
# 14 Canada: 27.4 years
# 15 Japan: 27.3 years
= 16 Italy: 27.1 years
= 16 New Zealand: 27.1 years
# 18 Belgium: 26.6 years
# 19 United States: 25 years

Men

# 1 Sweden: 32.9 years
# 2 Denmark: 32.5 years
= 3 France: 31.2 years
= 3 Spain: 31.2 years
# 5 Norway: 31.1 years
# 6 Germany: 30.9 years
# 7 Switzerland: 30.8 years
# 8 Netherlands: 30.7 years
# 9 Australia: 30.6 years
# 10 Finland: 30.5 years
# 11 Austria: 30.3 years
= 12 Italy: 30 years
= 12 Ireland: 30 years
= 12 Japan: 30 years
# 15 United Kingdom: 29.8 years
# 16 New Zealand: 29.2 years
# 17 Canada: 29 years
# 18 Belgium: 28.9 years
# 19 United States: 26 years

According to the chart

Average age of (first I assume) marriage (2006)
Men 37.6, Women 35.6

Average age of (first I assume) being PACsé (2006)
Men 31.5, Women 32.9

Alliance Francaise Sydney micro trottoir vox pop



I saw this video on the AF Sydney website... it's pretty funny! and I think I recognise all the places they filmed this in.

J'ai vue cette vidéo sur le site web d'Alliance Française de Sydney... c'est assez drôle et je pense que je reconnais tous les endroits qu'ils ont filmé cette vidéo.

Night owl and early bird




Couche-tard et lève-tôt

par Bénabar

Quand il rentre le soir tard toujours en retard
Le couche-tard fait des cauchemars les fantômes dans le placard
Il promet de ne plus jamais boire
Entre cafard et café noir
Le couche-tard

Quand il rentre plus tôt du boulot le lève tôt
Il tire les rideaux et s'installe au chaud le dîner en plateau
Il se préoccupe de la météo
Est-ce que demain il fera beau?
Le lève-tôt

Couche-tard et lève-tôt se retrouvent dans le premier métro
Le métro a ceci de joli qu'on y voit le jour comme en pleine nuit

Accroché au comptoir le couche-tard toujours sur le départ
Cherche un auditoire qu'il accapare et invente des histoires
Parfois une petite bagarre
Parfois au désespoir

Au galop le lève-tôt fonce au bureau l'oeil sur le chrono
A l'assaut de la semaine et des matins jumeaux rien rien de nouveau
Et pour mettre du vin dans son eau il attend ses jours de repos
Le moral à zéro

Couche-tard et lève-tôt se retrouvent dans le premier métro

"Le lève-tôt est un tocard" prétend le couche-tard
"Le couche-tard un blaireau" assure le lève-tôt

Le métro a ceci de joli qu'on y voit le jour comme en pleine nuit.



When he returns late in the evening, always late
The night owl has nightmares of ghosts in the cupboard
He promises never to drink again
Between cockroach* and black coffee
The night owl

When he returns earlier from work, the early bird
He draws the curtains and sits with a hot heat dinner on a tray
He is concerned with weather
Will the weather tomorrow be nice?
The early bird

The night owl and early bird find themselves on the first subway
The subway has the same niceness whether it'd be the day or the middle of the night

Hung with the counter the night owl is always on the go
Seeking an audience that he monopolizes and tells stories to sometimes
Sometimes a small brawl
Sometimes with despair

With a gallop the early bird runs to the office with an eye on the stopwatch
At the beginning of the week and every morning (it's always the same), nothing nothing new
And to put wine in water he waits for his days off
With zero morale

The night owl and early bird find themselves on the first subway
"The early bird is a tocard" (stupid. lit. ugly/tacky/trashy) the night owl claims
"The night owl a blaireau" (loser/moron. lit. badger or shaving brush) ensures the early bird

The subway has the same niceness whether it'd be the day or the middle of the night



* not sure if this means actually a cockroach here, or if the cafard has the other meaning to be down in the dumps

dimanche 8 novembre 2009

AF Brisbane placement test

Intermediate/Advanced

I scored 10/14.

TCF proficiency tests samples

I seem to recall doing this test a fair while ago..

Here are my scores for today:

A1
Compréhension orale - 4/4
Structures de la langue - 4/4
Compréhension écrite - 4/4

A2
Compréhension orale - 4/4
Structures de la langue - 3/4
Compréhension écrite - 3/4


B1
Compréhension orale - 5/7
Structures de la langue - 5/6
Compréhension écrite - 4/7


B2
Compréhension orale - 6/7
Structures de la langue - 3/6
Compréhension écrite - 3/6

TCF sample tests

Eddie Izzard speaking French

I just found this hilarious video of an English (transvestite) stand-up comedian speaking French. I pretty much understood everything he said and I even picked up a few small errors such as not using il s'arrête instead of il arrête.



If you can't understand it you can watch the exact same thing with subtitles/annotations.



It's really quite funny!

samedi 7 novembre 2009

French.about.com reading comprehension tests

Intermediate - Lucie en France

13 September

I also took the reading comprehension tests at French.about.com (the 3 part story about Lucie) and scored 80%/80%/90%.

7 November: 90%/100%/90%

High Intermediate/Advanced - Voici mon CV. Où est mon travail ?

100%

High Intermediate/Advanced - Les lieux de travail sans fumée

90%

I was going to do the other 2 too but I thought 1) it's too easy to be 'advanced' and 2) you could guess the answers without even reading the text, and 3) It's all Canadian based.. so I have to say, those 'High Intermediate/Advanced' tests really sucked!

vendredi 6 novembre 2009

Princesse Ecossaise / La belle saison




So I found this blog some time ago and have been slowly making my way through it ever since.. I think I'm going to read the whole thing! Linsey writes really well and her blog reads like a novel, a great autobiography. Her snippets of life are amusing, suspenseful and brilliant. Take, for example, this 'chicken fillet' incident.

I got into her blog because of her amazing love story. She writes about how meeting a French 'toad' let her to meeting her 'French Prince' (FP) and how she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. She's only about 23 (I think) but writes with so much maturity and wisdom (and wit!) It's a great read (although I admit I didn't really read all the news/current affairs type blog posts, just the personal life ones, especially about her relationship or her new life/home/job in Versailles).

Apple Store Louvre Paris opens tomorrow!



Is it just me, or does this picture remind you of Rubiks Rings?

Apple Store Louvre Paris - opening 7 November

Apple.fr

Entre les murs (The Class) (2008)



"Teacher and novelist François Bégaudeau plays a version of himself as he negotiates a year with his racially mixed students from a tough Parisian neighborhood."

Interesting review at Time magazine

Romain Duris screentest

It's been a while since I posted a YouTube clip. I found this little beauty, of Romain Duris in 1994... I can't really understand what they are saying :( (speaking too fast, and background/echoing sound or bad sound quality) but hopefully ... un jour.. I will be able to!




I find that I have problems understanding people when:
* they have a non-standard French accent
* they are old men. Children's, teenagers, and women's voices are just so much clearer. I find the voices that are the easiest to understand are those in their late teens or early 20s. They sound like adults but still sound young and clear.
* the recording is of poor quality. A lot of the time I can't understand the people I chat to because our connection isn't that great and there is a lot of background echoing noise.

18 weeks of learning French

18 weeks... I just passed the 4 month mark.

I did a lot of CBF this week because I thought it's way too easy so I hope to finish the whole thing now. Meanwhile, FSI has proven to be getting difficult quite quickly. I wanted to finish Chapter 7 but I was falling behind. I found that the gap they gave you wasn't enough time for me to finish the sentences so I'll have to do them a few times over from 7.8 onwards.

I started my second week of my evening course and unfortunately I didn't like it as much as the first week because I preferred the previous teacher :( Still, the teacher that we have isn't too bad it's just that I preferred the other one personality wise.

I'm finding it really hard to find new 'language exchange partners' mainly because people aren't online much or if they are, they don't have their MSN or Skype program open. Mainly now, I only speak to one person (quite often) and 2 others every now and then. I wish I could speak to a bigger variety of people but it's hard to get in contact with them and also some conversations feel so stilted and boring. I dunno... with some people you seem to have an instant rapport/connection but with others it almost feels like a job interview we're you're just asking a serious of questions and it feels a bit cold and boring to me.

Speaking of job interviews, the topic of jobs comes up a lot.. job satisfaction, having days off or holidays (which les Français really do seem to have a lot of! ;) ), being unemployed and looking for a job, etc.

One person just got married and he showed me some of his wedding photos which was pretty nice considering we haven't even spoken much up till that point.

I don't like stereotypes but I've found most of the things I've read are true. ie that the French like le ciné and comics books (bandees dessinées) a lot. I've also learnt that they like camping, and prefer to travel inside their own country rather than internationally.

I also had some bizarre encounters this week. One was with a 27 year old girl who spoke (typed) like she was about 15 using lots of slang, abbreviations, etc, but also with the sorts of questions she was asking me. Turns out she's Algerian and living in Algeria (I'm getting a bit sick of people lying on their profile when they say they live in France and they don't!!) She didn't introduce herself or anything.. she launched into a tirade of how she couldn't do something on her computer and could I help her? I could barely understand what she was saying and I tried, but alas, my French and Windows skills are just not up to par... She kept asking me if I see kangaroos all the time in Australia and she was just saying really really immature things. C'était très bizarre..

So far I have:
  • Done up to the end of Coffee Break French - Lesson 47 (of 69 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of Assimil - Lesson 83 (of 113 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of Live Mocha - Lesson 26 (of 50 lessons) 
  • Done up to the end of French in Action - Lesson 18 (of 52 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of FSI - Lesson 47 (tape 7.8) (of 189 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of FSI French Phonology - Lesson 3 (tape 2.1) (of 20 lessons) (none this week)

mardi 3 novembre 2009

International household saving rates

After talking to various French people, I came to the conclusion that French people are far better at saving than most Australians. OK obviously I only know a few French people whereas I know thousands of Australians...

But coming from an Asian culture and having lived in Asia I do know that Australians are pretty bad at saving. In fact the average personal savings have gone into deficit (negative) now. I read somewhere that for China, the personal savings rate is around 30%. It does seem that 'poorer' countries are better at saving.. but...

Also, the cost of living in France seems to be higher than Australia when you consider that most things cost the same (except in Euros vs Aust. dollars) but the average salary in France is around €20.000 and the average salary in Australia is around $50,000 per annum... *

I did a bit of searching around and found this swivel.com spreadsheet.

It features the countries:

Australia
Austria
Belgium
Canada
Czech Republic
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Italy
Japan
Korea
Mexico
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom
United States

According to the chart, Australia, New Zealand and Greece are the worst, and are all in a deficit. Canada, Finland, Japan and Korea are also looking pretty bad, falling drastically.

Unlike most other countries, Norway's savings rate has increased.

Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Switzerland have all remained fairly stable over the years, and are around the 10-12% mark.

I'm thinking this must definitely be a cultural thing because.. is it a coincidence that all those countries are in the same geographical area?



2003 savings rates (%)

Australia -3.2
Austria 8.6
Belgium 10.4
Canada 2.8
Czech Republic 2.4
Denmark 4.8
Finland 1.4
France 12.5
Germany 10.4
Greece -6.3
Italy 11.0
Japan 4.0
Korea 3.9
Mexico -
Netherlands 8.4
New Zealand -
Norway 10.1
Poland 5.3
Portugal -
Spain 6.0
Sweden 9.2
Switzerland 9.9
United Kingdom 0.7
United States 2.4


2003 International savings comparisons



Notes: Japan gross savings data for 2002; China household savings data from 2000.
Sources: Gross savings rates from OECD and ADB; household saving rates from OECD and sundry national statistics agencies; consumption and CA balances from IMF.


2007 OECD international personal savings rates



5 things about money in France.

Anyway, I think it's a really interesting topic! It seems that all the anglo countries don't fair so well in this area, nor does Greece (or Canada or Japan or Korea). I'm not sure what the story is there?

I was not a business major and admittedly I don't know a lot about world/economic affairs. Maybe someone can enlighten me?


* "By the way – before anyone brings up currency conversions, one who has lived overseas knows that conversion does not apply when talking about residents who earn the currency they spend — only to people who earn in one and spend another currency, which is quite rare."
link

lundi 2 novembre 2009

CHANGE OF BLOG URL

I've changed the the url from ma-nouvelle-vie-a-paris.blogspot.com to ma-nouvelle-vie-en-france.blogspot.com

Sarkozy pushing French students to learn English

... He's not the only person who thinks so. Earlier this month, French President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled an "emergency plan" for teaching foreign languages in the nation's schools with the lofty objective that "all our high school students must become bilingual, and some should be trilingual." Why the panic? Because as Sarkozy noted, a nation that spends 5.8% of its annual GDP on education — the fifth highest percentage in the world — simply must do better than its current rank of 69th among 109 countries on the standardized Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). To that end, Sarkozy has proposed exposing students to more native-speaking English instructors, increasing contacts between French and foreign high schools and shifting the focus in schools from written foreign-language instruction to the more practical oral...

From Time magazine

C'est interessant, n'est-ce pas? Ça c'est une bonne idée!

samedi 31 octobre 2009

Test Podium proficiency tests II

I just randomly Googled and found a proficiency test. I found one at Test Podium which seemed pretty good. 35 mins and 40 questions.

Here are my results:

Date of test : 13 September 2009

43.75 % correct

Level : Intermediate level 2 (37.5/60 Points) B2


---

Test type French test level 2
Date of test : 31 October 2009


Test result 66.25 % correct

Grading according to section

Grammar 62.50%
Vocabulary 50.00%
Communication 68.75% (funnily, I scored lower here compared to last time)
Listening comprehension 75.00%
Reading comprehension 75.00%

Level : Advanced level 1 (46.5 Points)

and their grading and corresponding CEFR levels:

Elementary 1 (00-10 points) A1
Elementary 2 (11-20 points) A2
Intermediate 1 (21-30 points) B1
Intermediate 2 (31-40 points) B2
Advanced 1 (41-50 points) C1
Advanced 2 (51-60 points) C2

Language level
Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.


So according to them, I was B2 level last time, and now I am C1. I don't think the level is important, what's important is that I've improved. Yay! I don't think C1 is accurate anyway, since they didn't test any writing skills.

vendredi 30 octobre 2009

ESL languages French proficiency test Part II

ESL languages French proficiency test

On 11 September I scored 28/40 A2-B1

On 30 October (today) I scored 35/40. B1.

I decided to do this test again and I thought sufficient time had passed for me not to 'memorise' the answers... I think I did pretty well! Most of the ones I got wrong had to do with the dreaded subjunctive. I sort of know how/when/where to use it, but memorising how to spell all those words in all the conjugated forms is another matter!

Je l'aime, trouver un boulet, and other amusing mistakes



Like I said earlier, I've been chatting heaps online... and have made some rather hilarious mistakes.

1. I said, "Je l'aime" wanting to mean "I like/love it" and the other person thought I meant "I love him/her" and asked me, "Who?" He said I have to say, "J'aime ça". I asked a second person to confirm and read a bit online and from all of this I gathered that "Je l'aime" can mean "I love it" but it's confusing so you need to specify exactly what (ex. ... Ce livre, je l'aime). Also, "J'aime ça" (or "J'aime cela") is much better for objects.

BUT

"Je les aime" means "I like/love them" and the "them" can mean either people or objects!

2. This was not really a mistake, but a stupid typo. I have no idea why I typed it except I was very tired... "Merci de ton aime" instead of "Merci de ton aide". Luckily the other person saw the funny side of it!

3. I made the typo "...j'ai decidé de trouver un boulet..." Of course I meant boulot (job/work, colloquial form of travail) and didn't even realize my mistake until it was pointed out to me. And after, we both had a good laugh about it since boulet means "cannonball" or one of those heavy "ball and chain" things (pic above).
A "boulet" is also slang for a 'loser', an annoying person, a drag, a boring person, or someone who is bad in bed! It is used to insult someone.

4. "C'était ma journée". After rambling on about my day, I added this at the end, which of course means "That was my day." which is acceptable, but apparently in slang (when said by a women) it also means, "I have my period" (proper term is "j'ai mes règles"). It would have been better to say,"Voilà ma journée."

I'm sure I'll make more amusing mistakes later on! But they are one of the best ways to learn (since you remember them more easily).

17 weeks of learning French

17 weeks... I haven't done much this week (a part from FSI) but... I have exciting news. I started a French evening course yesterday at an adult community college and I love love love it! It's once/week for 2 hours. There are around 10 people in my class. All older than me except one. I just chose my own level and I think I chose well. I really hope to be at B1 level by March. The class is around mid-late A2 level.

They are very easygoing, there are no exams and if you don't do your homework they don't care, but unlike high school, everybody (obviously) wants to be there and get the most out of it. The teacher is great, and I love his French accent.

I compared my ipod with one of my classmates and we both had all these French learning recordings on it, which we both agreed was pretty nerdy.

I've also been chatting a lot online (the time difference is now 10 hours!) and I'm getting much better/faster at typing the accents. I used to leave most of them out because I was lazy but now I'm forcing myself to type them all.

So far I have:
  • Done up to the end of Coffee Break French - Lesson 39 (of 69 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of Assimil - Lesson 76 (of 113 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of Live Mocha - Lesson 25 (of 50 lessons) 
  • Done up to the end of French in Action - Lesson 17 (of 52 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of FSI - Lesson 44 (tape 7.5) (of 189 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of FSI French Phonology - Lesson 3 (tape 2.1) (of 20 lessons) (none this week)

I really enjoyed lesson 39 of CBF. There are two adorable kids in it!

lundi 26 octobre 2009

Ecole France Langue French Proficiency test

Here is another fun proficiency test.. it's all done in Flash and very quick and easy.

I scored Intermediate 2 - B1.

jeudi 22 octobre 2009

16 weeks of learning French

16 weeks... not much to say...

So far I have:
  • Done up to the end of Coffee Break French - Lesson 38 (of 68 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of Assimil - Lesson 74 (of 113 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of Live Mocha - Lesson 24 (of 50 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of French in Action - Lesson 15 (of 52 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of FSI - Lesson 36 (tape 5.7) (of 189 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of FSI French Phonology - Lesson 3 (tape 2.1) (of 20 lessons) (none this week)
  • 1:1 online chats: 29

mercredi 21 octobre 2009

Flash-based French Grammar test

I found this flash-based French grammar test. At first glance it seems pretty easy but it's really hard (at least it was for me). Check it out here.

mardi 20 octobre 2009

French Listening comprehension

I found this video which I thought would be good for listening practice. He speaks clearly and there is no background noise.

My Happy Planet



I'm actually surprised I hadn't found this site MyHappyPlanet before. I was talking to someone I met through LiveMocha and they mentioned that they 'met' some people through MHP so I decided to check out the site. I haven't really gotten into it that much but what I noticed is that on some people's profiles they list their MSN, Skype or Yahoo details so you can add them straight away if you want. This site seems easy to use and it's easy to find people.

I found that with a lot of sites and with some people there was a lot of 'adding' going on but no actual conversing or messaging which was frustrating for me. So when I see someone's details I can cut to the chase. Of course this doesn't guarantee that they will talk to me but...

In less than 24 hours I was already chatting to several people. Last night I stayed up all night (boy am I tired this morning) chatting to 2 people back to back on Skype. By 'chat' I mean video/audio chat, not typing. It was really fun and I must've gotten lucky because both of them were nice and were interested in learning about me, Australia, and English of course, and were patient in teaching me French too.

Some really funny topics came up and I spent a lot of the time laughing. It was so amusing. I wished I could've met them in real life.

I asked the first person how to say 'snorkelling' in French and he told me that such a word didn't really exist. I looked it up in the dictionary and it said 'plongé avec tuba'. He told me that plongée means to dive, and tuba is the actual snorkel piece (ie the noun), but like in English, tuba could also mean the musical instrument. He said you could also say 'j'ai fais du tuba' or 'je nage avec de tuba' or 'j'ai plongé au tuba' or something like that. The phrase just cracked me up!

With the second person, at first I thought he seemed a bit sleazy... I have to go back a bit here and say that during my late high school and university years I spent a lot of time chatting online but over the past 6 years or so I've hardly done it at all. In fact, I got a bit sick of it and only started up recently because of my learning French. I'm usually a bit hesistant to speak to guys because I'm always afraid if they are single they're going to try to chat me up (as happened in the past.. ), or if they are in a relationship their girlfriend/wife might get upset or something.. still, I do find it easier to chat to guys and there are more of them on those language social networking sites.. so anyway, at first I didn't think this guy was that interested in the whole language exchange thing and I thought that after I sent my photo over he would lose interest but nope.. goes to show you that there are a lot of assumptions and prejudices when chatting (typing) to someone online! We soon took the conversation from MSN to Skype and talked for real and it was much much better. He was really nice, and spoke very slowly and clearly so I understood (almost) every word. He did have a girlfriend but I don't think it mattered*. I think I was probably just assuming and imagining and prejudicing (I know that's not a word) a bit too much at the start, due to my past (bad) experiences! I guess I should give people the benefit of the doubt, lesson learnt. :)

Another interesting this is that first person said that the American accent is easier to understand than the British one, but the second person said the opposite! They both said (as everyone does) that the Australian accent sounds British (of course no Australian ever thinks that though.. ;) )

I don't know when I'll talk to either of them again since I only seem to catch people when they have a day off from work... but it was very enjoyable and useful and I learnt not only new words but facts about the French culture and society and even geography (lots of geography)!

My Happy Planet's promo video:



Pretty cool, huh?

* I remember reading somewhere that in France it's far more acceptable for men and women to mingle and be (platonic) friends with one another. I guess it's something I'm not quite used to... yet. Maybe it's just me? Anyway, I'm writing this addendum a few days later and he did tell me that his girlfriend knows he talks to girls online and she doesn't care as she is also learning a foreign language and talking to various people online (and knows that he isn't talking about taboo topics with us!!)

lundi 19 octobre 2009

More on the Alliance Francaise

So, I've been thinking of going to the Alliance Française in either Sydney or Paris (or both) but I think I am slightly getting turned off now. My friend went to the Alliance Française in Sydney and raved about them. He also said the class sizes are small when I queried him about that (8 or less) but I've found out that the textbook they use is "Connexions" and according to the Reviews on Amazon this textbook sux. I know it's just the opinion of 3 people but I really believe it's the method that makes your learning successful or not. I might sign up for their conversation classes though because I really need to practise speaking and having a conversation with real life people!

There is quite a lengthy discussion here on KungFu Dana's blog about the Alliance Française in Paris but I think that this problem would probably mainly exist in the lower levels (A1 and A2 mainly). I could have guessed this. and I read that their classes are huge, 20 people or more. So I'm not too sure I want to go there now either :(

I know what the author is talking about.. these immature, spoilt, rich young things who probably have their parents pay for everything and don't take anything seriously and are just there to socialise - ugh!

From a quick search around the 'net I've found that all the Alliance Françaises around the world use different textbooks.. Connexions and Alter Ego are the most popular ones but I've found all of these mentioned somewhere:

Alter Ego
Connexions
Campus
Forum
À grand vitesse
Festival
Taxi

samedi 17 octobre 2009

Spelling and French verb conjugations



I'm a stickler for correct spelling. I've always been good at spelling ever since I started going to school. I know that in French many words sound the same when you say them, but are spelt totally differently.

I could never figure out or remember if the 'je' form of a word ended with an 's' or not but I have finally figured out the pattern! I am surprised I have never read this anywhere before.

If the 'tu' (second person singular) form of the conjugated word ends in 's' and the 'il' (third person singular) form ends in 't' or 'd', then the 'je' (first person singular)' follows the 'tu' form and also ends in an 's'.

Another way to look at it is, if the 'il' (third person singular) form of the word ends in an 'e', then the 'je' form follows the 'il' form and also ends in an 'e' and not an 's'.

Examples:

j'aime - tu aimes - il aime
je mange - tu manges - il mange
j'achète - tu achètes - il achète
je joue - tu joues - il joue
je cherche - tu cherches - il cherche
je donne - tu donnes - il donne

je comprends - tu comprends - il comprend
j'attends - tu attends - il attend

je vois - tu vois - il voit
je dois - tu dois - il doit
je sais - tu sais - il sait
je fais - tu fais - il fait



I consulted my Bescherelle Complete Guide to Conjugating 12000 French Verbs and this seems to be right for all the verbs (apart from the irregular ones such as avoir, être, etc). I am not sure if I've missed some exceptions so feel free to tell me if this is the case!

The world according to the Parisiens



I just found this hilarious map from the blog "Strange Maps" (click on it to see it larger). It's a map of the world according to Parisiens.

Je viens de trouver ce plan drôle du blog "Strange Maps" (pour le voir plus grand cliquez sur l'image). C'est un plan du monde selon les parisiens.



I also found this map which is funny too: Paris by the Parisiens.

J'ai aussi trouvé ce plan qui est assez drôle : Paris selon les parisiens.

French bureaucracy and paperwork

I'm actually getting a bit scared now.. I'm sure it's not just a stereotype when I've read about this so many times from so many sources by so many people. This blog post by David Leibovitz had me in stitches!

It's actually terrifying for me because I detest bureaucracy and red tape. The last time I had to go through extreme measures was during university which was quite a few years ago now, so I've practically forgotten... I am just trying to stay positive, fingers crossed and all that that I won't have to tear my hair out over dealings with the French consulate or government.

I'm going to try and do my blog posts in French now as well... I know there will be mistakes, so be warned. I have no idea if what I'm writing is gramatically correct or not.

J'ai de plus en plus peur... Je suis sûr que ce n'est pas un stéréotype quand j'ai avant entendu de ce problème de beaucoup de temps par beaucoup de sources et beaucoup de monde. Cet article du blog "David Leibovitz" que je me suis fendu la pêche!

C'est terrifiant pour moi ca je déteste la bureaucratie et la paperasserie. La dernière fois que je devais pousser les choses à l'extrême était pendant mes études à l'université, qui était il y a quelques années. Alors, j'ai presque oublié... Je vais essayer de rester positive... croise les doigts et tout ça que je ne serai pas en colère aux les relations avec le consulat ou le gouvernement français.


That took so long I think I'll only do the translation when I could be bothered, or if my post is really really short! ;)

Btw I got the expressions from that book I told you about before 101 French Idioms with MP3 Disk: Enrich your French conversation with colorful everyday sayings

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