FL 6: Asking Questions

Here is some quick vocab before we begin:

Une Question = A question
Demander = To ask

There is no question about it, you will be asking questions in French if you intend to speak it or travel to a French place (like France). You will probably have to answer some questions as well. So here is a lesson on French questions.

Today I had another French lesson. I am learning French with a private tutor and now that my FBF is overseas I thought I would fill some of my spare time with some extra French lessons. I will not have 2 private lessons per week. In the first bunch of lessons I learned how to ask basic questions using “est-ce que” inserted into sentences (examples to follow). Now, as I am getting into more challenging topics, I am learning the art of inverted question asking (again, I will explain in a moment). These are two ways to ask questions but there is not only two ways to ask questions in French. There are three! The third way to to add a question mark at the end of a statement and raise your tone at the end of the sentence to imply a question. Following me so far?

Basic question asking words

Just as English had who, what, where, when, how and why questions, French does too.

Où = Where
Quoi = What
Qui = Who
Quand = When
Comment = How
Why = Pourquoi

Just structure the question with one of these words. It is easy!

  • Où est mon stylo?      Where is my pen?

“Est-ce que” Questions

One way to ask a question in French (probably the easiest way if you are just learning) is to insert “est-ce que” into a statement. Est-ce-que implies that you are asking a question and can be used whenever you ask a question.

  • Qu’est-ce que c’est?       What is this?
  • Est-ce que tu veux  à danser avec moi?        Do you want to dance with me?

Inverted Questions

The verb and the subject are inverted to form a question.

Example. Est-ce que tu as veux  à danser avec moi? ….”Est-ce que” is ommitted entirely and you are left with tu veux  à danser avec moi (You want to dance with me). To make this a sentence invert the subject (tu) and the verb (veux)…Veux-tu à danser avec moi?…Do you want to dance with me?

Adding a question mark at the end of the sentence…?

Just take a statement and add a question mark at the end of it. Use this with discretion.

  • C’est vrai?                It is true?
  • Nous mangerons à 8h?          We will eat at 8 o’clock?

This was just a quick lesson, gor a more in depth look at forming French question, here is a link!

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to demandez!

 

 

Slacking on French Lessons

I am so excited to get my butt moving to France! I actually have trouble expressing my excitement in words. You know how when you attempt to explain to your partner how much you love them, and nothing you say really measures up to your feelings? Well, this is a similar kind of excitement.

I am going to France and I will obtain a job and hopefully meet a bunch of people. Speaking French is going to be a must, a total necessity. My problem would be that I am simply a beginner at French. Even worse, a French lesson slacker!

I know I must practice in order to reach the goals I have set out for myself. I must, I must, I must practice. I started my run well (run being the study of French). I practiced and studied every single day, I was consistent with the date and times of my lessons, I reviewed over and over again, read and looked up vocab like a mad woman. And now, the one hour lesson a week is all I put into this (although I do practice conversation an awful lot with FB).

If I had taken this slacker attitude with the financial aspect of getting this visa, I would have never been able to achieve that goal, but throughout that time period, I remained determined, knowing that all my efforts would pay off. And now that the plane ticket had been purchased and all is in place for the attainment of this visa, I need to take on that same attitude with the learning of this beautiful language.

Discipline it is! And not for any blind reasons such as thinking that I need to be disciplined because discipline in itself is a good quality. I do not necessarily agree with that. I do not believe discipline is necessary all the time. But I do believe that all dreams and goals are attainable, no matter how impossible they seem. And attaining these dreams and goals doesn’t simply come with expecting it to happen without any effort. Action is key. And the action I choose to take is the dedicated effort and discipline to set firmer, more concrete goals (like the monetary value of the money goal) and really make this a reality.

So here they are, my new French language goals. Necessary, if I want to be successful in France:

  • Become completely functional within 2 months of being in France (November 15). Becoming functional means speaking all the time and understanding others.
  • Dedicate at least one hour per day to some French activity. This can be reading, studying verbs, the lesson, watching TV, practicing conversational skills. It doesn’t matter what, it just has to be French.
  • DOING MY FRENCH HOMEWORK. I have never been good at doing homework. Throughout my life I have been more of the kind of student who slaps together a magnificent project in the last minutes. Would that style cut it for learning French? Not sure, but I am going to do the homework this time.
  • Post at least one French Language post per week. Yes I will!
  • Remember these goals!

You cannot become a runner by talking about running!

Until next time…

My Mini Quebec Adventure (part 1)

I am in Quebec City for a mini French adventure. I left the bustling, busy GTA and began my journey with Mon Homme on Sunday. It was a spur of the moment decision for both of us but the desire to come here had been hanging around for a couple of months. Why not? This is an excellent opportunity for me to practice my French and eat real French (Canadian) baguettes and croissants.

Is Quebec City real a francophone city?

Yes! I actually could not believe this myself. Quebec is the only francophone province in Canada (with the exception of a part of New Brunswick), but even so, the number of anglophone inhabitants is enormous. I was expecting to arrive here and have trouble finding people (such as restaurant servers, hotel concierges, tourist guides and so on) to speak French with. I have traveled to the province of Quebec before, stayed in Montreal and also Quebec City itself (eons ago). When I had attempted to speak French then, and the people realized I was anglophone, they would automatically switch over to English.

Well this trip is slightly different. I have my French Homme with me and I have asked him to only speak French. When people approach us or we need to speak with them, they will automatically begin the conversation in French and this time, instead of me using my broken French to try to communicate, Mon Homme steps in and voila, the francophone conversation is sparked. I stand there, absorbing as much information as possible and add in a “oui” (yes) or ‘merci” (thank you) here and there. The thing I find most fascinating about all this is that I can actually understand! And answer and ask questions back! The waitress asks me, in French, what I would like to order, and I asked back in French, “Do you have fruit?” (Est-ce que vous avez des fruits?). She answers back with a “Non, bla bla bla bla bla bla petite dejeuner” (No, ……….breakfast) I didn’t catch the whole sentence. But I definitely know that it means we only serve it at breakfast and I proceed to order the French onion soup. Awesome, I mastered my first French conversation! My months and money investing into private French lessons is completely paying off, and this confidence was well needed. Thank you Quebec City!

If you want to travel to Quebec City and do not know French, do not worry, most people will speak to you in English. Try to know a few phrases though because it seems obvious to my bf and I, that when we speak in French, all the Quebecois’ faces light up and we are treated better.

Is the food in Quebec divine?

The food in Quebec City is divine! Most of it is authentically French and from what we have had, it is all just simply wonderful. There are not chain restaurants in the old city and when you sit down at a French restaurant, expect the freshest food!

I guess, because this is a very large tourist hot spot, the prices are quite high. We have yet to find a cheap French restaurant alternative. With little or no alcohol, the average bill for a lunch or dinner we have had it $35-$40. But this is generally choosing the lower costing items on the menu.

Before I go on I must tell you about the latte from heaven that I had (Cafe au lait en francais). Starbucks lattes go from around $3.20 and up. What is the outcome of paying that price? The same boring drink, every single time, mass produced, a long line up, a headache from the smells of over processed foods being grilled and an average taste. For the same price here in Quebec, I had a latte, plus grande (bigger), made with the richest espresso I have ever tasted, served with the flare of adding latte art to top the drink off, and what tasted like the freshest milk ever. We ended up ordering two! Starbucks has lost my business.

Corner convenience stores also sell baguettes and cheese and wine and everything divine. To save some money today we will grocery shop for breakfast and lunch.

Accommodations

We are staying in a two star hotel, I found for an extremely great price on Expedia.ca. I honestly was not expecting much. The pictures online were not that awesome, although the place did look clean and the location was extremely ideal. Seeing that the reviews were mainly good, I decided to book. My main focus, of course, is getting to France, so I simply do not want to splurge on a last-minute four-day trip.

We walked in, Mon Homme spoke French and the woman we dealt with was wonderful. She signed us in, gave us the key and even listened to our conversation and provided us with the internet password without us even asking. On top of this, before we headed up stairs, she asked us if we knew the city or had a map. We didn’t, so she gave us an awesome map and directions on how to get to the old city (less than 10 minute walk away!). So far, so good!

We unlock the door to our room and to our delight, it was and still is, charming, way more than we could have asked for. The room in spotless, it comes with a fridge and cable TV (with every channel). The bathroom is spotless and well equipped. The bed is comfy and has a giant, bright white duvet to add to the awesomeness. Well worth the price (which was not much).

Getting around the city on a budget

The first thing we decided to do was go shopping. There are plenty of cute shops and we had to check them out. Upon exiting the first show store, I already had a new pair of shoes in hand (or on my feet this time!). I simply couldn’t resist the French flare the shoes had. They were perfect for style and comfort! A girl has got to invest in a pair every so often to keep her sanity!

The weather here this week is terrible so indoors has been the theme. We checked out some awesome art galleries, featuring Inuit sculpted art and another gallery with abstract painting. This of course, was free (gratuit).

We were hiding out, from the cold in the bottom level of the Chateau Frontenac where there is a strip of stores to be seen. After following the corridor (and checking out the stores) we arrived at a crowded area with a woman in costume at a desk. Castle tours were happening! We had to check it out and for $20 for two people, we would be entertained for an hour. Three words for you: DON’T DO IT! It was boring, we were led through a couple of hallways and given the boring (yes boring!) historical facts. We didn’t get to see the awesome suites, the swimming pool or anything that would, as Mon Homme says, “Make us dream”.

We then proceeded to the tourist information office across the street to see where the nightlife is in the city. Not only where we told where the nightlife is (too tired to check it out yesterday), but the kind gentleman also told us all the free museums we could attend and how to take the local bus to get to the waterfalls. Awesome! Today, we have a busy (low-cost) day ahead of us!

With all this said and done, if you have the chance, GO! This city is fun, funky and quite easy to navigate, I might add. My eagerness to hop on the airplane to arrive at my real destination has and is growing with every step on these Quebec streets. Now I know for sure, I MUST go to France! The real deal lays across the ocean, no anglophones chiming into the French conversation, no choice but to order my food in France, espresso and baguettes and food that I can only imagine, and a zest that I’m sure cannot be compared to this small Canadian city. My confidence is up and I cannot wait.

Until I write again, thanks for reading!

Useful links:  for travel to Quebec City check out these two websites: Quebec Region and Bonjour Quebec

FL 5: Être (to be)

Être (to be) is an extremely useful verb and it is irregular. To refresh your memory, irregular verbs are the verbs that do not follow the usual conjugation rules. Verbs ending in -re are always translated in the same way unless they are irregular, like être.

Basic Conjugation
Je suis (I am)
Tu es (You are)
Il/Elle est (He/She is)
Nous sommes (We are)
Vous êtes [You are (formal or group)]
Ils/Elles sont (The boys/The girls are)

How to use the verb être

  • When you start conversing in French, you will realize that this verb is very common. If you are going to memorize any of the conjugated forms, in the beginning Je suis will most likely be the form you use most often…

Exemples de Je suis:
-Je suis faim. (I am hungry.)
-Je suis très excité! (I am very excited!)
-Je suis une fille. (I am a girl)

If you have any “Je suis…” examples (exemples)  that you would like translated and posted, please let me know in the “comments” section of this post.

  • Être is used commonly in all the other conjugated forms as well!

Exemples de Être:
-Qu’est-ce que c’est? C’est un leçon. (What is this? This is a lesson.)
-Il est un garçon. (He is a boy.)
-Où sont les crayons? Ils sont sur le livre. (Where are the pencils? They are on the book.)

If you want a translation of any sentences using the verb être just comment to this post!

Coming soon… “FL 6: A French Resume”

Also…Please check out the links on the right side panel for a verb conjugator and a french accent typing website.

Welcome back (from Easter)

Hi everyone! I hope you had as awesome of an Easter as I had.

I finally received my copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child (volume 1). And a review will be coming shortly. If you remember, the movie  “Julie and Julia” was based on a young woman making every single recipe from this book and blogging from it. I quickly browsed through the book last night and I am eager to get started on these recipes!

FL: être later today…

Stay tooned today for another French language lesson on the verb être (to be). This verb is extremely important and heavily used in French (as well as all languages).

Another Great Blog…

I have also found an awesome blog here on wordpress that has many posts related to French things. There are a lot of videos to check out I now have a long list of French movies to watch because of the info provided.

The blog is called French Stage and here is the link:  http://frenchstage.wordpress.com/

Until later mes amis!

Coming soon…The French Resume

I know I mentioned a while ago that I would post on the French Resume and language to find a job. I haven’t been around to this task yet because I have been busy and I want a proper lesson from FB which takes a few hours. I will post on this asap!

In the meantime, here is a helpful link…

WRITING A FRENCH RESUME

Again, I will post my version, based on how I learn it, very shortly (one week give or take). Thanks for your patience!

Learning French In Everyday Living

I live in Canada and although Canada is a bilingual country, I have yet to hear anyone outside of Quebec speak French. I live in an anglophone society and learning another language when all I hear is English is proving to be challenging.

Living in Canada does have its percs though…3 Francophone television channels (emissions de television), bilingual signage and all product labels are bilingual (although Quebecois not France, French).

Taking French lessons once a week really helps me learn the structure and basics of the language but one hour a week is not that much. When I get to France I will be speaking it 24/7! Having a French boyfriend helps as well, but he insists on speaking English while in Canada.

So as my time to fly over that big blue ocean is approaching very fast (très rapide),  I have no choice but to get creative with my learning!

Here are some great ideas to learn the language très rapide:

  • Watch at least one French television program a day. I just flip my TV on to TV5 (channel 130 where I live) and spend an hour watching. But I do not simply watch passively! I watch with closed captioning (sous-titrage) and repeat after them. And I am not picky in what I watch. The goal is to learn!
  • Watch French movies without sub-titles. The movies are generally very entertaining and fun to hear people speaking in French. It becomes a nice challenge when I have to figure out what is going on. It would be awesome for closed captioning to play on everyone’s shirts as they speak but not the reality so I might as well train myself now!  Here are two movies you must see:   “Le Fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain” and (et)  “L’auberge espagnole”.
  • Begin writing your important documents and letters in French and get them corrected. I have written my visa cover letter in French and a letter to a French organization. My boyfriend corrects them with me and I learn a TON from it! Soon I will be writing letters to find a job and an apartment so its great practice!
  • Start writing short little assignments and get them corrected by a French person. I have written 200 words on why I want to move to France and the role sports play in my life. I learn a lot of vocab this way!
  • Read popular novel with a dictionary in hand, of course. You most likely won’t be able to translate it word for word but you will get the general story. Compare the French version with the English version to understand how the French language is different from English. After 5 or 6 chapters you will be surprised as to how many words you no longer need to translate! Here are two books with an English version available: “Le Petit Prince” et “L’Alchemiste“.
  • Find some French people and start having conversations even if it just via Skype. Conversation is probably the most important thing one can do to learn the language.

I hope this gives you a few great ideas to make your learning of French a whole lot easier!