A Video That Speaks to All Language Struggles

Bonjour mes amis!

I stumbled across this TED talk by an English teacher in France titled, “Why the French are useless in English.” Did you know 48% of executives in France feel uncomfortable speaking English? Funny to think of language intimidation working in reverse!

There’s a lot of good advice in here, but I’ll highlight this quote in particular:

“There is no miraculous method. The only method that works is the one that you follow in a regular and diligent manner — preferably with a good dose of pleasure.”

The speaker, Carol Bausor, also encourages making as many mistakes as possible when learning a new language. It’s how you learn! I love this video for anyone learning a language, but of course, especially enjoyed that the talk itself was given in French.

Bonus points to anyone who can comment with the quote I pulled above in the French original!

À bientôt!


How To Get Out Of A Study Slump


It has indeed been weeks since I posted last and I am very sad to say I have gotten off track with my 12 Week Challenge! Zut! While I’ve still been loving my weekly French class and iTalki conversation lessons, I definitely have been a little more lax about using the rest of my week to cram in as much French as possible. Workbook review exercises here and there, passively watching French movies with English subtitles, and listening to the radio in French. Still, I think it’s important to address how this can (and will) happen as you’re learning a new language, and how to move on without beating yourself up.

For me, it’s really easy to feel overwhelmed with the idea that I should be catching up on ALL the things. But the best thing to do is to pick one thing (seriously, just one!) to pick back up with the next day. And then go from there. Moi? I want to input the vocabulary from my last two iTalki sessions onto Anki tomorrow. That’s it. There are other things I want to catch up on this week, but I’m just going to pick that one thing I can tangibly wrap my head around for now. Do that, and you’ll find your way.

Tomorrow night I have my French class and I’d like to start reporting on here what we’re working on so hopefully I’ll have another post up for you by Tuesday! Until then, I wanted to share an artist I’ve been listening to! Apparently this girl is only 18 and won France’s version of The Voice. In the states, this might put me off from giving it a listen but I heard her song on my French radio app a few times, looked her up, and found that her whole album is a good level of French for me to understand, while also enjoying the music enough.

So here is the song that I liked so much:

And another vide of the same song slowed down with lyrics:

I was very happy to hear the word “défoncer” which showed up in my workbook’s list of -cer verbs that add an circumflex accent to the c in present nous form (nous défonçons). I had added it to my Anki flashcards with the given translation in my book “to smash in.” You’ll imagine my surprise then when I double checked it today on google and this popped up:

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 10.25.04 PM

Ah! Quite different. I found a few other sources supporting this translation and am not quite sure what to think. It appears in the verse to describe their hearts as “défoncés.” Both smashed-in hearts and effed hearts hold a similar meaning, but of course, the connotation is quite different. Could one use “défoncé” in front of someone’s grandmother?

Report back if you know, mes chers! Until then, happy listening!

À bientôt,


A Video That Will Make You Want to Study and Talking About Reality TV and Dating In French

… Or maybe just want to watch every other video Babbel posted of Matthew Youlden. He also has a twin brother and they both speak 10 different languages fluently. So amazing.

In this video the twins share their tips for learning new languages.

As for me? I had my second informal tutoring session on iTalki this morning. I was running on about 2 hours of sleep after going out with a friend visiting from out of town the night before and I like to think that can explain why I was so bad at stammering out opinions today. But again, I left this session feeling really good because it was so much fun. My tutor had a list of topics to talk about and while I didn’t have much to say about young people being overly concerned with their looks or the incredible access to information we have on the internet, when she asked about my opinion on reality television I lit up and could not spewing incoherent French about how much I love watching bad tv.

Here are a few easy vocabulary terms I picked up in my lesson today while discussing my favorite guilty pleasure:

les émissions de télé réalité – reality tv shows
crier – to yell
se battre – to fight (both good for describing the premise of Jersey Shore)
tomber amoureux/amoureuse – to fall in love
très rapidement – very quickly (both useful for describing the premise of The Bachelor)
un rendez-vous – a date
sortir avec quelqu’un – to go out with someone, to date someone

One thing I asked about is whether dating has it’s own verb in French. In English you would say that you are dating someone, but I think we also talk about the act of dating in and of itself, without relation to a specific person. For example, if you say a date, or many dates, or dating someone specific, is terrible, that’s different from saying the act of dating is in itself terrible — (which yes, is exactly what I most frequently have to convey on the subject.)

I’d be very interested to hear from anyone who has spent time living in France and knows if whether this imperfect translation of dating reflects a difference in the cultural practice of it. In my experience, it’s easy to become frantic about finding relationships in the US, especially with the rise of online dating and the rise of reality shows surrounding the subject (The Bachelor, Married at First Sight and First Love, Second Chance all come to mind). I always find myself comparing going on dates to going on job interviews because frankly, it feels like robotic unpaid work most of the time. Is dating in France a more casual practice? Or even a more personal one?

Next week, I’m signing up for two half hour sessions with my tutor as opposed to the one forty-five minute session we did today. I’m hoping that less of a gap between sessions will keep me on my toes and improving faster.

Until then, joyeux apprentissage à vous!

À bientôt,