mercredi 6 janvier 2010

Best French textbooks

It wasn't until I took this photo that I realized that most of my books are by McGraw Hill. Also, I chose the versions that came with CD ROMs/DVDs which are a great help for listening practise.

For most of the books, I read extensive reviews on Amazon as well as checking them out in person at a nearby bookstore.

Funny how all the spines are red/white/blue!

mardi 5 janvier 2010

Yann Tiersen (Amelie) playing the iPhone piano

A couple of months ago I found some tutorials on YouTube on how to play various songs from Amélie. It was quite a novelty to learn this way instead of reading sheet music. Actually I prefer using sheet music and not that I even have a piano here to practise on but I do miss playing it..

Almost exactly one year ago my friend was showing me this app on the iPhone that enables you to use it as an instrument. You can blow into it to make a sort of pipe/woodwind instrument and you can also play it like a piano.

I just found this, by the composer of the film Amélie, Yann Tiersen. It's so cool and his swearing in 3 different languages is hilarious!

This version is also amazing:

(via Why travel to France)

Coolest French proficiency test - Université of Stendhal Grenoble 3

Just when I thought I'd found them all.. I'm always on the lookout for more and better (free) online French proficiency tests...

Last night I found and did one of the best French proficiency tests I have found. Unfortunately due to my own stupidity I stuffed up at the end and could not see my results/answers properly so I started a new window and quickly went through everything quickly (not really read/answering the questions again) just so I could get to the end.. only to realise that this second test was now in the 'memory' so it wiped out everything from my first test.

The reason why this is a big deal is because... The test had taken me over 2 hours to do and I had stayed up past midnight to do it! ARGH.

However, if you are patient and actually get though to the end it's well worth it. It's a virtual reality type situation (almost) where you are going to go to France to study and you have a friend there and start writing letters to each other. Once there, you have to find an apartment and flatmate/roommate (colocataire) and then a part-time job. So the exercises are really quite useful and have some semblance to what you'd actually have to do if you moved to French (albeit it, with a compressed timespan).

French proficiency test by Université de Stendhal Grenoble 3

It's a really great all-round test and uses video and audio clips as well as drag-and-drop technology online. It tests your listening as well as reading and a bit of writing.

Being the geek that I am, I peeked behind the scenes to discover that it isn't Flash based (surprisingly) but javascript and php based. You type in your name and birthdate on the first screen and then throughout the test they use this information to make it all seem even more real.

There are 4 parts to the test that test levels A2, B1, B2 and C1.
It took me roughly 45 minutes for each section.

I was pretty confident that I'd pass the first two, not sure about B2 and wasn't even going to attempt C1. It was only through my own mistake mentioned earlier that I realised how it works!

You do the A2 test and if you pass that, you go onto the second test (B1). If you don't pass, the quiz stops (and you are rated A1) and it shows you the answers and your score. I didn't know this when I started the test and it just kept going and going and I was getting quite tired and impatient but perserved and made it all the way to the end of B2.

After that I was way too tired and just skipped all the questions in C1 to get to the end where it told me I had scored 0/70 but then I realised it was my score for C1 level only and I never really knew what I scored in the other sections :( except to say that I made B2 level! Woohoo!

Votre score est de : 0/70 (for C1)

Votre niveau correspond au niveau B2 du Cadre Européen Commun de référence.

Descriptif du niveau B2 du Cadre Européen Commun de Référence

A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2

ECOUTER Je peux comprendre des conférences et des discours assez longs et même suivre une argumentation complexe si le sujet m'en est relativement familier. Je peux comprendre la plupart des émissions de télévision sur l'actualité et les informations. Je peux comprendre la plupart des films en langue standard.

LIRE Je peux lire des articles et des rapports sur des questions contemporaines dans lesquels les auteurs adoptent une attitude particulière ou un certain point de vue. Je peux comprendre un texte littéraire contemporain en prose.

PRENDRE PART A UNE CONVERSATION Je peux communiquer avec un degré de spontanéité et d'aisance qui rende possible une interaction normale avec un locuteur natif. Je peux participer activement à une conversation dans des situations familières, présenter et défendre mes opinions.

S'EXPRIMER ORALEMENT EN CONTINU Je peux m'exprimer de façon claire et détaillée sur une grande gamme de sujets relatifs à mes centres d'intérêt. Je peux développer un point de vue sur un sujet d'actualité et expliquer les avantages et les inconvénients de différentes possibilités.

ECRIRE Je peux écrire des textes clairs et détaillés sur une grande gamme de sujets relatifs à mes intérêts. Je peux écrire un essai ou un rapport en transmettant une information ou en exposant des raisons pour ou contre une opinion donnée. Je peux écrire des lettres qui mettent en valeur le sens que j'attribue personnellement aux événements ou aux expériences.

Check it out! :)

dimanche 3 janvier 2010

Top French baby's names of 2009

I was reading this article on my local paper's website about the most popular baby's names and it got me curious about what the current top French baby's names were...

According to this site the top 10 girls' names are:
1 Emma
2 Chloé
3 Manon
4 Léa
5 Camille
6 Clara
7 Maëlys
8 Lena
9 Zoé
10 Jade

and the top 10 boys' names are:
1 Lucas
2 Nathan
3 Jules
4 Louis
5 Hugo
6 Clément
7 Thomas
8 Mathis
9 Raphaël
10 Enzo

Je viens de lire cet article sur le site web de mon journal qui s'agit des plus populaires prénoms des bébés.


Edited (26 Aug): The same site/link now also has the top names of 2010.

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