samedi 7 novembre 2009 reading comprehension tests

Intermediate - Lucie en France

13 September

I also took the reading comprehension tests at (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 ?


High Intermediate/Advanced - Les lieux de travail sans fumée


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

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 spreadsheet.

It features the countries:

Czech Republic
New Zealand
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."

lundi 2 novembre 2009


I've changed the the url from to

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!

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