samedi 1 août 2009

French alphabet / Le verbe AVOIR (to have) conjugation song

Some useful videos. A bit too late pour moi, but helpful for a beginner :)

La chanson de l'alphabet

Link here (can't embed)

Les trois dernières lettres sont XY (i grec) et Z

(The 3 last letters are XY and Z)

And the French alphabet again but with the English alphabet song tune

Maintenant je les connais, toutes les lettres de l'alphabet.

(Now I know all the letters of the alphabet).

Le verbe avoir
by Canadian French teacher/pop star, Etienne (Steven Langlois)

J'ai AI
Tu as AS
Il a
Elle a
Nous avons
Vous avez
Ils et Elles ONT

Le verbe AVOIR, si dynamique
Un verbe si fort, c'est hypnotique
Il l'a imaginé, elle a rêvé.
Mais, tu sais, je l'ai réalisé...

Le verbe AVOIR, ecoutéz!
Exprimez-le au passé composé.
On le joint au participe passé.
Les phrases complexes on peut créer...

I have
You have
He/it has
She has
We have
You (plural/polite form) have
They (m) and They (f) have

The verb TO HAVE, so dynamic
A verb so strong, it's hypnotic
He has imagined, she has dreamt
But, you know, I've realized…

The verb TO HAVE, listen!
Express it with the compound past tense.
One joins it with the past participle.
The complex sentences one can create…

Spider Cochon (Simpsons)

Spider Cochon, Spider Cochon,
il peut marcher au plafond !
Est-ce qu’il peut faire une toile ?
Bien sur que non, c’est un cochon.
Prends garde… Spider Cochon est là !

Spider Pig, Spider Pig,
He can walk on the ceiling!
(Is it that) he can make a web?
Of course not, he's a pig.
Watch out... Spider Pig is here!

vendredi 31 juillet 2009

4 weeks of learning French

It's been 4 weeks since I started learning French and so far I have:
  • Done up to the end of CD 6 lesson 6 (of 8 CDs) of Michel Thomas French

  • Done up to the end of Level 1 Lesson 18 (of 3 levels x 30 lessons) of Pimsleur French

  • Done up to Week 4 Day 5 (of 7 weeks x 7 days) of Teach Yourself Starter Kit French

  • Done up to end of unit 4 (of 10 units) of Collins Language revolution Beginner French

  • Done up to the end of Lesson 7 of Coffee Break French (by Radio Lingua network)

Subscribed to the following Podcasts:

  • Classic French Tales (French Today)

  • Easy French poetry podcast

  • France Inter - Le sept dix

  • French for beginners

  • French for kids by kids

  • French verb drills

  • The French podclass - Frenchie productions

  • Katia and Kyliemac learn French

  • Learn French by podcast

  • Learn French with Alexa

  • Ma France - learn French - video podcast

  • Mission Paris - Deutsche Welle

  • Journal en français facile

Some of them are better than others. Some of them are totally useless! haha.
Some of them I can just run in the background so my brain/ear can get used to the French sounds without really listening or paying attention to it, if I don't want to. Désolée, I'm too lazy right now to link to them all and I can't remember where I found some of them.

Books about life in Paris

When I was younger I used to go the library all the time.

Throughout primary (elementary) school, high school and university I would use the library often.

However, after that I hardly ever went, mostly because I didn't have such a huge need for them anymore and most of the books I wanted are never there (too new or rare) so I just bought any book that I wanted to read (or just look at, for reference).

Aujourd'hui, I went to my local library (bibliothèque) and borrowed:

* Buying a piece of Paris - Ellie Nielsen

* Words in a French life - Kristin Espinasse

* Extremely pale rose: A Very French Adventure - Jamie Ivey

* My French Connection - Sheryle Bagwell

* Culture Wise France - The Essential Guide to Culture, Customs and Business Etiquette.

I also have Teach Yourself French Starter Kit, which I borrowed a few weeks back.

I'm going to borrow from my sister:

* Almost French - Sarah Turnbull

and I bought:

* A Town like Paris - Bryce Corbett

* La Vie Parisienne - Janelle McCulloch

both of which, coincidentally, the library didn't have.

There seem to be a LOT of books written by Australians!

I also bought second hand:

* A year in Provence - Peter Mayle

* A year in the Merde - Stephen Clarke

My library has Stephen's follow-ups:

* In the Merde for Love / * Merde Happens

which I'll borrow/read when I've finished going through my exhaustive list!

I also put these on hold (currently on loan to somebody else):

* The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier - Thad Carhart

* The Elegance of the hedgehog - Muriel Barberry (fiction, set in Paris, translated from French)

I also want to read:

* Paris to the Moon - Adam Gopnik

* Snowfall in Paris: A Young Woman's Pursuit of Adventure - Josette Laurence

* Au Paris: True Tales of an American Nanny in Paris - Rachel Spencer

* Paris: The Collected Traveler: An Inspired Anthology and Travel Resource - Barrie Kerper

* An Englishman in Paris - Michael Sadler

* Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. - Jeremy Mercer

* A Corner in the Marais: Memoir of a Paris Neighborhood - Alex Karmel

Yes I am obsessed!

I went through every Paris/France memoir type book on Amazon to see if they would be interesting to me. Luckily, I'm a pretty fast reader. It takes me around 5-6 hours to read an average 250-300 page novel.

I generally only want to read books written in the last few years, by those not older than 35-40 years of age, and true stories/memoirs, not fiction. The Elegance of the hedgehog (L'élégance du hérisson)appealed to me because of the storyline and it was recently released as a feature film (there are extracts on YouTube or on their official site).

I have already finished reading 'Buying a piece of Paris'. I already saw it at Borders (bookstore), flipped through it and decided that I wouldn't be buying it because it wasn't 'good' enough. However, borrowing it was perfect as I could read it without paying a cent! ;)

It is a true story of Ellie Nielsen and her decision to buy an appartement in Paris with her husband. She, her husband Jack, and their 6 year old son Ellery go to Paris and embark on their adventure into the world of des agents immobilieres. The concept of the story is good but the writing lacked some oomph. There were some funny parts but it wasn't emotional and heartfelt enough for me. I got the sense that she was self-deprecating on purpose, as is the Australian trend (because noone wants to be a 'tall poppy'). I would've liked to hear more about her relationship with her husband, and background on themselves. Unless I missed it somewhere I don't think she even mentions her age, although she alludes to it by talking about what she was doing in certain years.

The most I got out of the book was hearing about streets/suburbs (some of which I looked up in Google street view!), reading all the French phrases/dialogues and translating them myself (before I got to the part where it's done for me in the book) and congratulating myself on figuring out all the complexities of French grammar and guessing the meaning of some words I haven't learnt yet. Par exemple, I guessed that malheureusement meant unfortunately! I knew that mal meant bad and anything ending in ment ends in ly in English.. I guessed it and couldn't believe I was correct.

At the beginning of the book, when she goes to the first l'agent immobilier, she mentions la fenêtre. The woman is confused and proceeds to tell her that the window is not la fenêtre but la vitrine, which refers to shop windows - which, to me, proves that there are many complexities of a language that you can't learn easily until you go and live in that country! That, and other 'missing' words in English is explained here on this site.

The other part that was interesting to read was the bit about the complexities of opening a bank account in France! haha. But apart from that the rest was pretty fluffy and bimboish. There is a gold seal on the front cover saying "Great Women's Weekly read". The Australian Women's Weekly is a monthly (yeah I know) magazine for Australian housewives so I guess the book sort of appeals to those sort of women (one of which I'm not).

I wouldn't recommend it, but I wouldn't not recommend it either. I would definitely say to go and borrow it from a library or a friend and don't bother buying it!

Books about life in Paris part II

mardi 28 juillet 2009

Mimi la souris, Bob le bricoleur and Thomas le petit train

English kids's tv shows translated into French.
TV opening or closing title jingles.

Les paroles (the lyrics)

Mimi la souris (Maisy Mouse)

C'est Mimi, c'est Mimi, c'est Mimi la petite souris
Mimi la souris
Mimi la souris

It's Mimi, it's Mimi, it's Mimi the little mouse
Mimi the mouse
Mimi the mouse


Le bricoleur (Bob the builder)

Le bricoleur
Peut-on le faire ?
Le bricoleur
Oui on peut !

Et oui, c'est bien lui, c'est l'ami Bob
Avec toute sa bande, il est partout
Prèt à creuser ou à réparer
Il répond présent, il s'appelle Bob

Le bricoleur
Peut-on le faire ?
Le bricoleur
Oui on peut !

Ne traînons pas, le travail n'attend pas
Construire et réparer, tout doit être parfait
Bob et sa bande s'amusent si bien
Tout en travaillant en ville ou dans les champs

Peut-on le faire ? (OUI)
Peut-on le faire ? (OUI)
Le bricoleur
Peut-on le faire ?
Le bricoleur
Oui on peut !

The handyman
Can we do it?
The handyman
Yes we can!

And yes, it is well him, it is the friend Bob
With all his group (of friends), he is everywhere
Ready to dig or repair
He replies, 'Present', he calls himself Bob

The handyman
Can we do it?
The handyman
Yes we can!

Let us not lag behind, the work does not wait
To build and repair. all must be perfect
Bob and his group (of friends) amuse themselves so well
While working downtown or in the fields

Can we do it? (YES)
Can we do it? (YES)
The handyman
Can we do it?
The handyman
Yes we can!


Thomas le petit train (Thomas the tank engine/Thomas and friends)

Une, deux, trois, quatre
Cinq, six, sept, huit
Les jolies locomotives
Rouge, et verte, marron et bleue
Toute l'équipe brille de mille feux

Chacune a son rôle à jouer
Toujours partantes pour nous aider
Avec Thomas et ses amis
La vie nous sourit

Thomas le plus culotté
James il nous fait rigoler
Percy s'occupe du courrier
Gordon est toujours pressé
Emily a réponse à tout
Henry siffle, tousse et s'étouffe
Edouard, prêt à nous aider
Toby lui, il est carré

Une, deux, trois, quatre
Cinq, six, sept, huit
Les jolies locomotives
Rouge, et verte, marron et bleue
Toute l'équipe brille de mille feux

Chacune a son rôle à jouer
Toujours partantes pour nous aider
Avec Thomas et ses amis
La vie nous sourit

One, two, three, four
Five, six, seven, eight
The pretty engines
Red, and green, brown and blue
All the team shines like a thousand fires

Each one has its role to play
Always leaving to help us
With Thomas and his friends
Life smiles at us

Thomas is cheekier
James: he makes us laugh
Percy occupies himself with the mail
Gordon is always in a hurry
Emily has a reply to all
Henry whistles, coughs and chokes (himself)
Edouard, ready to help us
Toby, him, he is solid

One, two, three, four
Five, six, seven, eight
The pretty engines
Red, and green, brown and blue
All the team shines like a thousand fires

Each one has its role to play
Always leaving to help us
With Thomas and his friends
Life smiles at us

dimanche 26 juillet 2009

Lots of different learning resources

You may be wondering why I am using so many different types of courses, books, tapes, learning aids.. is it confusing? Nope! In fact, I find it easier this way.

Usually you learn things in a certain order.. starting with simple words and phrases and going into more complicated ones. Different courses explain the same words/phrases/concepts in different ways (but in a similar order), and the more times you are exposed to the same words/phrases, the more it sticks in your head.

For eg: Michel Thomas - I had learnt devoir / dois / doit / devez / devons (=must, have to) but then in Pimsleur I heard the same word again which I assumed was the same word.. the sentence was "Je vous dois combien?" (How much do I owe you?). I made the connection that that word must have multiple meanings. Then, only an hour later I went to Borders bookstore, picked up a book called "French demystified" and flipped to a random page and what do you know? I had turned to a page explaining that that word did indeed have multiple meanings! One of which was 'must' and another which was 'owe'.

Today, I was listening to Pimsleur and they were talking about 'gen/s'.. which I knew meant 'person/people' because of Teach yourself French starter kit. However, it didn't really make sense.. Pimsleur is audio only so I had to use my brain to figure out what they were saying was in fact 'j'en' (contraction of 'je' and 'en'). Then I remembered I had learnt on 'Walk, Talk and Learn French' there was a lesson involving 'il y en a...'. I knew that 'il y a' meant 'there is/are' because of Teach Yourself French Starter Kit, but I never really knew what the 'en' part meant.. so then I heard it on Pimsleur, and voila!! It means 'some' or 'any' and is explained quite well on the site (a great site btw!)

Adverbial pronouns:

The French adverbial pronouns y and en are so tiny that one might think their role in a sentence is not very important, but in fact quite the opposite is true. They are both extremely important in French.

En replaces the partitive article + noun or de + indefinite article + noun. It is equivalent to "some," "any," or "one" in English.

Another time, I had learnt through Walk, Talk and Learn French about 'le plus' meaning 'the (most) ...est'.. it is equal to the 'est' part of a word, whereas 'plus' by itself equals to the 'er' part eg tall (grand(e)), taller/more tall (plus grand(e)), tallest/most tall (le/la plus grand(e)) and then I was watching Barbapapa on YouTube and heard them say something like 'la plus belle maison' (the most beautiful house).

explained on

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