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…

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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.

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!

FL 3: French Adjectives

It has been a while since I posted some nifty french language information. So here is the next small leçon:

French Vocab- not all translations are as they seem…

tout- every, all
chose- thing
homme- man
petit(e)- small
jour-day
femme- woman
grand(e)- large
quoi- what
main-hand
film- movie
oeil- eye
autre- other
monde- world
tête- head

For now, I will leave out verbs and stick with adjectives and nouns. Verbs in the French language need to be conjugated depending on the subject (I, you, he, she, we, they).

Grand(e) et Petit(e): These words are adjectives (they describe something). Notice that I placed an “e” in brackets.

French nouns are given a gender, masculine or feminine. When descibing a female or a feminine noun you would use an extra e at the end of these adjectives: grande and petite. No extra e is used in masculine nouns or when describing a male.

e.g. Le homme est petit. (The man is small)
Mais, sa tête est grande. (But, his head is large)

In the first sentence we are describing a man as small and therefore use petit instead of petite.

In the second sentence we are saying that the man’s head is large. La tête is a feminine noun. Since we are describing the head, and the head is fem. we use grande instead of grand. This is true even though the head belongs to the man.

Oh, that language of love…

Today I was able to get one more document completed and ready for the obtainment of this visa. My cover letter to the consul general is done!

Every time I read French, have a lesson, or simply listen to French music, I try to pick up something new and remember what I have learned. Writing this cover letter was a nice little assignment for me and I learned a lot about the language. And even though I am learning a lot, I am still terrified that I’ll never speak this language! The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know and that learning French is not as simple as translating word for word. French writing has a style, as does English writing. Although I would love to directly translate, “I would like to obtain a 2e Visa to France and I would appreciate being considered as an eligible candidate”, and sentence like this can be directly translated while making sense, it just won’t be very French. We anglophones have developed expressions and etiquette in our language over a many number of years and so have the French, and that makes these languages very different from one another. I am not saying that my learning a ton of vocabulary plus different ways to structure sentences and many different verb tenses is all for waste, because they do say that you cannot build a house from the top floor down but you must always start with the foundation. So I am currently pouring the cement into a gigantic French language vortex I have dug, and starting to understand this language of love more and more. I can see that what I am learning now (these awesome building blocks!) will enable me to hear people out and speak in sentences that others will definitely understand (although they may not be correct), so I can at least communicate with my future neighbours. I can also see that the real learning, the really juicy, building the home part of  learning this language, will only happen while I am in France, learning the French style and being immersed in it everyday.

Am I scared? Maybe a little. At this same time, this is kind of a fun challenge and even writing about this has me excited for the moment I step off the plane and realize that its all sink or swim…