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!

 

 

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Filling out the long term visa application for France

The title of this post spells out exactly what I will write about today.

As you may know, one of the very first steps I took towards moving to France was researching the types of visas and choosing one. After I chose the youth working holiday visa (2E) I logically printed out the online package (as linked on the right of this blog).

What I am trying to say is that I have had this visa package full of instructions, guidelines and the application forms themselves  for nearly 5 months. I could have filled out the forms months ago but instead I decided to save all the money needed, write my cover letter en francais, get the insurance, the photos, the photocopies, all-in-all, EVERYTHING completed. Yet, until a couple of days ago, these form lay unattended. I had peaked at them 10 or maybe 20 times over these 5 months but never dared touched them.

Why? You may ask. This seems like I pretty basic thing to do. Well, not when you are me! When this has been your dream for 10 plus years! When any mistake on those two pages can hinder your ability to obtain that visa! Ok, breather. I guess it is not that big of a deal. But when I looked at those forms all I could see were the side panels which read “for administration use only” and underneath this column lays two boxes (one to be checked off by the administration) reading “granted” and “not granted”. They will literally choose whether or not to give me the visa, right before my eyes, on that very application form. I better freaking fill it out correctly! On top of the pressure to fill these babies out perfectly, they come with a little glitch: The page attached explaining what goes into each box is wrong. The explanations do not match the boxes on the form so therefore I filled them out how I thought I should and had to disregard the instructions. French consulate, please review that page and fix it!

Finally, on Sunday, I built up enough courage to once and for all tackle these forms. I was as honest as I could have been, was very straight forward in all the boxes and I also have a verbal explanation ready for the boxes I filled out that may be ambiguous to someone trying to figure out what my plans are exactly.

Thankfully I have my boyfriend’s parents in France who are serving as my “home-stay” family just in case anything goes wrong while I am there. I added them into my application and their address as the place I will stay, even though I also wrote I will immediately look for a place in Lille. I am sure this could seem a little confusing to the consulate. “She says she will live in Lille when she arrives but she also says she will stay in Reims.” I tried my best to make the situation very clear to them. But anyway, I am ready with responses to any of their questions.

That box will be checked “granted” I am sure!

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

Books On France

I have been itching to get my hands on some awesome books that detail life in France. I am way more interested in hearing about real people’s experiences than a fictional character’s story, but both will do.

I was completely inspired after walking into the library in my neighbourhood last November (shortly after Mon Homme et moi started dating) and finding “My Life in France” on display. This is the novel about Julia Child’s life in France as she tells it to author, Alex Prud’homme. This book takes you through many regions of the country, the food, and the amazing people she meets along the way. It is definitely a winner if you want to learn more about the French life. Just a fair warning though: This book takes place quite a while ago and France has apparently modernized since then. The world is becoming more of a global playground where traditions are not worth as much value as the next dollar. I refuse to believe that France has lost most of its flavour, because if what I hear about the French is anything close to being true, these people keep preserving the culture close to their hearts. I will not be able to actually report on the truth until I experience it for myself.

I have also read a charming fictional novel written by American, Sandra Byrd called “Bon Appetit“. I have written about this one before. Because of the seemingly parallel story to my own life, I could not put it down. It is about a young woman traveling to France to study at a pastry school and work in a bakery, while trying to find love and increase her faith at the same time. It was cute and quick, exactly how I like those fiction novels. Give me a 2000 page food encyclopedia and I’ll read the whole thing in detail over time, pass me a fiction novel and I will hope for the ending the entire time!

So because my travels will be arriving in a few short months, and the reality is beginning to set in with the purchase of my plane ticket and insurance (although the visa is yet to be obtained) I am trying to get my hands on a few more great (English) books that can tickle my mind with a French experience. And because I am trying to save every single penny I have, I am extremely appreciative of the public library system in my area.

I went online to research some awesome books that really outline the culture of France, plus I asked around. The books that I have chosen are as follows:

  • France: A Love Story: Apparently a compilation of many different stories written by actual women who traveled to France and fell in love.
  • A Moveable Feast (by Ernest Hemingway): A true story about the life of Ernest Hemingway in 1920’s Paris.
  • France For Dummies: The dummies series of books are totally awesome! You can learn anything from scratch by reading these books. I know this book will outline all the key tips and tricks on navigating and fitting in with the French.

I will let you know how they go!

I ordered these books on my library’s website. They will be shipped in from a further library in a few days and I can pick them up just a couple of minutes down the street from where I live!

I am so ready to get my French on!

Thanks for reading….

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.

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!