samedi 26 septembre 2009

Astérix aux Jeux olympiques

Asterix at the Olympic Games

This looks like quite a hilarious, silly film. Obviously, it's based on the popular comic book series by the same name. I've never read the comics in either French or English (not really my type of thing) so I'm not sure I'd watch this movie but Asterix's costume in this film is hilarious, it looks exactly like his comic book character! I'm sure those who enjoyed the comics would love this film.

imdb - Astérix aux Jeux olympiques (2008)

Paris, the movie (2008)

I was wasting time on YouTube and found this... Actually you can find a lot of interesting French films by typing in bande annonce which I'm guessing means trailer. I read the little 'blurb' (or synopsis) next to the clip on YouTube and I could understand 90% of it! From that I gathered that the film was about a very sick man who asks himself if he is going to die. He takes a new look at all the other people who he comes across. It's a film about the unique lives of individuals and each of their problems (or something like that).

imdb - Paris (2008)

Diary of Paris

I was going through some old junk stuff of mine back at my parents' place and happened to find my journal of my whirlwind 2 week trip to Europe back in 2004. It was my first (and only) time there and we were in Paris for a grand total of 3 days and 2 nights...

It was fun to read it again. Please tell me what you think... haha!

This is what I wrote:

Paris observations

* Psycho drivers never stop at zebra (pedestrian) crossings which seem invisible!
* Bins are just metal hoops with big clear plastic bags (with wording printed on it)
* Metro is very frequent. Easy to get lost if you don't know where you are going and if you don't have a metro map on you!
* Digital signs tell you how many minutes till the next train arrives.
* Each station is decorated differently. Most are white tiled with hard metal seats (spaced almost 1m apart from each other!)
* Louvre Rivoli station looked like a museum with different sculptures in glass cabinets adorning the walls. We didn't get out here though.
* Lots more black people in Paris and London than in Australia.
* Cars are parked so closely you can't even walk between them without touching them. Incident: seeing someone reverse back into another car!
* Middle-aged man on train saying "up up.. merci" meaning and forcing us to stand up and 'close' the seats because the train was getting too crowded.
* Clouds - long, thin clouds that seem to shoot across the sky like sky writing (don't see those in Australia)
* Paris trains - need to open doors yourself when boarding or getting off.
Not really observations but...
* Getting mugged at an ATM*
* Getting picked up by a middle-aged man!*

Prices of the some things I bought/paid for (in euros):

* Hotel room 52.00 x 2nights = 104.00
* Breakfast at bakery down the road 7.70
* Train day pass for adult 5.30
* Postcards 2.05
* Book from Shakespeare's bookshop 15.00
* Lunch at cafe 7, 13.50
* La Tour d'Eiffel, adult, 3rd floor 10.40
* Supermarket ("Franprix") juice and chocolate 3.18
* McDonalds - burger and potato wedges 5.85
* Patisserie - breakfast 7.75
* 2 day ticket 5.30
* Souvenirs 6.85
* Lunch in another patisserie 6.30
* Postcards 0.60
* Souvenir 1.80
* T-shirt 11.90
* Postcard 1.50
* Patisserie 3.30

I did buy more than that though but I didn't list everything.

Unfortunately, I didn't actually write a proper diary entry about Paris as I guess I was just too exhausted by the time I got back to the hotel. Almost every day we were walking non-stop (apart from meals) from around 10am till 10pm.

* Yes, I actually got mugged. Well the stupid guy tried to, but I didn't let him get away with my ATM card or any money. It was also about 10am and broad daylight. It was still scary nonetheless and made me be a lot more cautious thereon in. A few minutes later, whilst crossing the road, a guy out of nowhere tried to pick me up. Yes, really. He wanted to take me to lunch. All in that short time of only a few minutes that my friend left me... Only in Paris I guess! Ha.

vendredi 25 septembre 2009

French Cafe signage

About 3 weeks ago I went to a café and I loved the mural on the wall. It was a lovely looking French café/pâtisserie but the service was absolutely shocking. In fact, I was waiting and waiting and they 'forgot' (ie lost) my order! And when I asked them what was going on they thought I ordered something entirely different. Suffice to say I'm not naming the place.

First couple: Comment choisis-je? (How can I choose?)
Pâtisseries irrésistibles! (Irresistable pastries!)

Second couple: Aimeriez-vous partager votre muffin? (Would you like to share your muffin?)
Mais bien sûr! (But of course!)
(the circonflexe ˆ (circumflex) seems to have gone walkabout)

jeudi 24 septembre 2009

12 weeks of learning French

12 weeks! Gosh, I'm almost at the 3 month mark too now, almost a milestone. I think I did quite a lot this week plus I started FSI. With FSI I'm going to use it as my Pimsleur substitute as an audio-only program. You mostly only have to read the text in the first part of each lesson (1.1, 2.1, 3.1, etc). The rest I use as an audio 'test' where I have to fill in the blanks before the second person. Before I figured this, I was just reading along with the text in the PDF (which wasn't really all that helpful, except maybe for pronunciation). Now that I realised I don't need to look at the text, I can actually use my brain to figure out the patterns in the drills and come up with the answers myself!

I am also doing 2 Assimil lessons per day because I want to progress as fast as I can. Pimsleur started teaching the past tense which was a little scary and I started hearing words and phrases that I had no idea how to spell, including

"J'ai été élevé..." which means "I grew up in (a place)". I googled various possibilities and I didn't know what they were saying. I thought it was 'était' and 'alaver' or 'elaver' or 'laver' in the end I had to ask!

So far I have:

  • Done up to the end of Pimsleur French - Level III Lesson 10 (70 of 90 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of Coffee Break French - Lesson 30 (of 66 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of Assimil - Lesson 41 (of 113 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of French in Action - Lesson 10 (of 52 lessons)
  • Done up to the end of FSI - Lesson 11 (tape 2.5) (of 189 lessons)

Oh and also... I have been speaking and typing to a real life French guy I 'met' through LiveMocha. I even had a Skype video conversation which was pretty embarrassing because I was so nervous and so slow at talking so now I just prefer to type to him. LiveMocha is awesome as now I have my 'team' of teachers who correct my work and that I know do a good job. I've even had some write (all in fluent French) great slabs of grammar notes and pronunciation tips for me! Hahaha. I've been learning so much from doing the written exercises on there.. so I recommend you give it a shot.

And after trying to come to grips with that nasty passé composé I finally feel like I'm getting somewhere. Yay! I re-read Le Chat au Chapeau and actually understand it a lot better now.

Francais encounters of the third kind...

I used to work in a stationery store which had great sales and I stocked up on a few things for myself and for gifts. I brought out one of the A4 spiral lined notebooks that I had in my 'archives' and started using that for my French notes. Since I've been writing out all the lessons of Assimil I seem to be filling it up quicker than I thought so today I went to back to the store to buy another thick lined A4 notebook.

While I was in the store, I was actually listening to FSI and even though I had my earphones in, I heard a man talking on his mobile (cell) phone next to me. I heard, "Oui d'accord." At first I thought I was imagining things. I told myself, "Don't be silly. He doesn't even look French." (whatever that means, as if the French all look the same)... "He looks sort of Asian, dark skinned, maybe Filipino or something." However, I really wanted to know if he was speaking French or not. So I sort of subtlely followed him but as I walked near him (now pretending to be looking at glue sticks) he walked further away to the back of the aisle. I decided not to act like a stalker and just stayed staring at glue sticks. Even though he was now about 3 metres away from me and I couldn't exactly hear what he was saying, but I was 100% sure it was French.

Now, even though I live in a fairly multicultural area, it's very rare to meet a French person in my part of town so I guess I was a little excited. I even wanted to go up to him and ask if he was indeed French, but the little voice inside my head started up again...

"Don't be stupid. He'll think you're stalking him. He might be weirded out by you." "Yeah, you're probably right," I thought so I just continued to find the aisle with the notebooks (this is a large store). While I was there looking, he seemingly appeared out of nowhere from one side of the store to walked in front of me and said, "Excuse me" as he tried to get past me in this narrow aisle. Hmm. I tried to look at him again (but not to appear too obvious) and kept telling myself, "But he looks Asian! He looks like he's Filipino, or Indonesian, or from some other South-East Asian country. But then again he could be mixed. He does also sort of have a South American appearance.... man, what's the matter with you? YOU look Asian yourself and can speak English as your main language, so why can't this guy (if he really is "Asian") speak French?... Well it's just I don't expect a French person to look that way..."

Isn't it funny how we expect people to look like the place they come from? I get annoyed when people do it to me, yet here I was thinking those very same thoughts! ARGH.

Part of me really wanted to talk to him, to find out if he lived in the area... but then at the same time I didn't want to seem like I was chatting him up (which was never my idea). I think I felt stupid for even thinking all these weird bizarre thoughts but it's as if whenever my ears hear French I just want to go up to that person and start speaking it to/with them!

Mignon cahier par Mini Labo

I got this cute notebook (cahier) with Paris theme (note the Eiffel Tower in the background). Too cute! It's by the creative people at Mini Labo.

mercredi 23 septembre 2009

Dessine-moi un mouton - Mylène Farmer

J'aime cette chanson! I love this song. It's based on the famous book 'Le Petit Prince' by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. I think there's a lot of meaning behind the lyrics.

Dessine-moi un mouton - Mylène Farmer (Draw me a sheep) - les paroles (lyrics)

Quelle solitude
De mourir
Sans certitude
D'être au moins

Une particule
De vie
Un point minuscule
Utile à quelqu'un

Quelle solitude
Ce que les yeux
Ne peuvent pas voir

Le monde adulte
Un monde abrupt
Et là, je broie du noir

Dessine-moi un mouton
Le ciel est vide sans imagination
C'est ça
Dessine-moi un mouton
Redevenir l'enfant que nous étions
Dessine-moi un mouton
Le monde est triste sans imagination
C'est ça
Dessine-moi un mouton
Apprivoiser l'absurdité du monde

Quelle solitude
De se dire
Que la morsure
Du temps n'est rien

Le rêve est bulle
De vie
Un bien majuscule
Utile au chagrin

Des pépins
Mais je veux croire
En l'au-delà

Et vivre est dur
Toujours un choix
Mais je jure
Que le monde est à moi

Dessine-moi un mouton
Le ciel est vide sans imagination
C'est ça
Dessine-moi un mouton
Redevenir l'enfant que nous étions
Dessine-moi un mouton
Le monde est triste sans imagination
C'est ça
Dessine-moi un mouton
Apprivoiser l'absurdité du monde

Il est à moi... (X4)
Il est à moi... le monde (X4)
Le monde... Le monde... Le monde...

Dessine-moi un mouton
Le ciel est vide sans imagination
C'est ça
Dessine-moi un mouton
Redevenir l'enfant que nous étions
Dessine-moi un mouton
Le monde est triste sans imagination
C'est ça
Dessine-moi un mouton
Apprivoiser l'absurdité du monde

What loneliness
To die
without certainty
To be at least

A particle
Of life
A tiny point
Useful to someone

What loneliness
to be unaware of
What the eyes
Cannot see

The adult world
An abrupt world
And there, I crush black

Draw me a sheep
The sky is empty without imagination
It's that
Draw me a sheep
To become a child again that we once were
Draw me a sheep
The world is sad without imagination
It's that
Draw me a sheep
To tame the nonsense of the world

What loneliness
To tell itself
That the bite
of the time is nothing

The dream is a bubble
Of life
A well capital (?)
Useful for sorrow

But I want to believe
In the beyond

And to live is hard
Always a choice
But I swear
That the world is mine

Draw me a sheep
The sky is empty without imagination
It's that
Draw me a sheep
To become a child again that we once were
Draw me a sheep
The world is sad without imagination
It's that
Draw me a sheep
To tame the nonsense of the world

It's mine... (X4)
It's mine... the world (X4)
The world... the world... the world...

Draw me a sheep
The sky is empty without imagination
It's that
Draw me a sheep
To become a child again that we once were
Draw me a sheep
The world is sad without imagination
It's that
Draw me a sheep
To tame the nonsense of the world

Learn French and donate rice to the needy!

Free Rice

I think I came across this site a few years ago but just found out that you can now learn French using it. There are a lot of vocab words and if you get one wrong, it comes back to it later. It's an awesome learning tool and you're helping a community in a third-world country too. Great!

Coco avant Chanel, le film

This film "Coco avant Chanel" (Coco before Chanel) is coming out right about now in the States but it came out in Australia in June... and I missed it! :(

It looks awesome... I love the costumes, and who doesn't love Audrey Tautou?

mardi 22 septembre 2009

Le passé composé. Dr & Mrs Vandertramp. La maison d'être.

Learning the past tense in French (verb + past participle = passé composé)

Most words use the verb avoir but there are a few exceptions, which use être and are listed below:


"This is perhaps the most popular mnemonic device for être verbs in the United States. Personally, I find it redundant since it includes some derivatives, but if it works for you, go for it."

Devenir — Devenu(e)(s) — to become
Revenir — Revenu(e)(s) — to come back
Monter* — Monté(e)(s) — to climb/mount/go up
Rester — Rentré(e)(s) — to stay
Sortir* — Sorti(e)(s) — to exit/go out/put/bring outside

Venir — Venu(e)(s) — to come
Aller — Allé(e)(s) — to go
Naître — Né(e)(s) — to be born
Descendre* — Descendu(e)(s) — to descend
Entrer — Entré(e)(s) — to enter
Rentrer* — Rentré(e)(s) — to re-enter
Tomber — Tombé(e)(s) — to fall
Retourner* — Retourné(e)(s) — to return/go back
Arriver — Arrivé(e)(s) — to arrive
Mourir — Mort(e)(s) — to die
Partir — Part(e)(s) — to depart/leave


There are actually lots more though! Here are all the ones I found:
(not sure if this is 100% correct)

Décéder — Décédé(e)(s) — to decease
Demeurer — Demeuré(e)(s) — to abide
Intervenir — Intervenu(e)(s) — to intervene
Parvenir* — Parvenu(e)(s) — to reach a goal/succeed
Passer* — Passé(e)(s) — to pass/spend time
Redescendre — Redescendu(e)(s) — to re-descend
Redevenir — Redevenu(e)(s) — to become again
Remonter — Remonté(e)(s) — to climb/mount/go up again
Renaître — René(e)(s) — re-birth/to come back to life
Repartir — Repart(e)(s) — to depart/leave again
Repasser — Repassé(e)(s) — to pass again
Ressortir — ressorti(e)(s) — to exit/go out/put/bring outside again
Retomber — Retombé(e)(s) — to fall again
Souvenir — Souvenu(e)(s) — to remember
Survenir — Survenu(e)(s) — to occur/happen/arise unexpectedly


"Another, more phonetic rhyming mnemonic exists for remembering the être-conjugators, which omits passer for reasons of multiple-word-meaning. (Passer can conjugate into passé composé with avoir, but means something different there from its usual meaning.):

Entré, rentré, arrivé,
Resté, monté, né, allé,
Tombé, mort, et retourné

These are words we all can say

Parti, sorti, descendu,
Revenu, devenu, et venu

These verbs with être are "conjugués"
when in the passé composé.

From Everything2

For all verbs conjugated with être, the past participle has to agree with the subject in gender and number in all of the compound tenses


Je suis allé — I (m) went
Je suis allée — I (f) went
Tu es allé — You (m) went
Tu es allée — You (f) went
Il/On est allé — He/One went
Elle est allée — She went
Nous sommes allés — We (m) went
Nous sommes allées — We (f) went
Vous êtes allé — You (ms) went
Vous êtes allée — You (fs) went
Vous êtes allés — You (mp) went
Vous êtes allées — You (fp) went
Ils sont allés — They (m) went
Elles sont allées — They (f) went

Reflexive verbs

Reflexive verbs also use être. The format for reflexive verbs in the perfect tense is: personal pronoun (je, tu, il/elle/on, nous, vous, ils/elles) + reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nous, vous, se) + être + past participle.

Ex: je me suis lavé (I washed myself)

Verbs conjugated with both être and avoir

* These verbs are conjugated with avoir when a direct object follows the verb.

Ex: Elle est sorti avec des amis.
Elle a sorti la voiture du garage.


Using the image of a house to remember all the words that use être instead of avoir.

Some cute pictures I found of La maison d'être (the house of 'être'):

LHS French Classes


U Texas


Gail Hyatt


Cliff notes

David Bessent (Flickr) (a bit crazy and rude)


Good lesson here (but the pronunciation is shocking)

Another video:

Passé composé use verbs of two kinds
Most with avoir use verbs, which is fine
But some verbs call for something that's new
Auxilliary être is all that will do

And those verbs are:
arrivé retourné parti sorti allé
venu revenu devenu entré
passé resté tombé né monté
descendu rentré et mort
are the last ones to day

Verbs that use être are important to know
But conjugating être is even more so

Je suis
Tu es
Il est
Elle est
On est
Nous sommes
Vous êtes
Ils sont
Elles sont

But the verbs are:
arrivé retourné parti sorti allé
venu revenu devenu entré
passé resté tombé né monté
descendu rentré et mort
are the last ones to day

Le Petit Nicolas - le film

Le petit Nicolas is coming out in France on September 30. Germany gets it in January so it probably won't be released till next year for most other countries too... I believe the film is based on the popular and highly-acclaimed children's books by the same name. It's set in the 60's and is aimed at readers aged 8+ (which means c'est un peu difficile pour moi en ce moment!)


It reminds me a little of the film "Matilda" (based on the book by Roald Dahl). It looks sweet and funny!

dimanche 20 septembre 2009

Azurlingua French proficiency test

Just did another one here. It was quite hard and I could feel the clock ticking away. I had to guess most of the answers!

This is what I scored:


Compréhension écrite: 25/60
Compréhension audio: 7/20


Ecouter - Comprendre de quoi il est question dans une discussion sur un thème familier. Dans un récit court, comprendre des phrases simples et reconnaître les motsou groupes de mots qui indiquent les changements de temps ainsi que les liens logiques les plus courants.

Lire - Comprendre l'essentiel d'un texte ou courrier simple et court traitant d'un thème ou d'un domaine familer. Reconnaître les articulateurs logiques et chronologiques essentiels dans un récit.

Ecrire - Ecrire une lettre personnelle pour se présenter, remercier ou parler de soi-méme. Rédiger une note ou un message court en réponse à une question. Relire plusieurs fois pour corriger les erreurs gênant la compréhension est encore nécessaire.

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