Learning French III: More Great Resources

As I continue my language lessons, I have discovered two fantastic Youtube resources to learning the French language. I wanted to share them with you:

The first is a series of French lessons created by Vincent of Imagiers. I find his teaching style delightful, straight-forward, and logical. It’s suitable for beginners to advanced. I’ve been working through the first 4 units, and so many questions I didn’t even know I had are being answered. He’s helping me push myself, and I really needed that in a way that worked for me.

The other channel I have fallen in love with is Comptines et Chansons. This is a site of children’s songs so beautifully done that I’m finding them delightful to my inner child without being insulting to my adult self. The songs are beautifully sung, the instrumentation is not overly absurd, and lyrics are provided. The tunes are so catchy that I find myself singing them throughout the day and even craving them. Of course, I have a natural predilection toward music and singing. A couple of my favorite tunes here include Lundi Matin, Mon Ane, and Il Pleut Il Pleut Bergere. There are tons, though, and I’m just getting started.

I hope you find these inspirational and helpful as I do.


Learning French II: Anglench or Franglish?

Last night, I attended my very first soiree that my native French-speaking friend and teacher MayaJoelle held at her house. It was an evening of French and a potluck followed by a French movie. It was a well-timed opportunity for me to experience immersion before I really experience immersion. What it showed me is that my dabbling with French since May and mere three lessons with MayaJoelle in the past few weeks have actually been effective. I’m learning to converse!

Granted, I understood about 15% of what was going on around me and probably spoke even less, but I was able to interact, nonetheless. I am proud of myself, but also painfully aware of how much there is yet to learn. It makes me feel like a child. Fortunately, I was in a room full of encouraging adults not overly amused with my slow, stilted, and sometimes grammatically incorrect attempts to speak. I actually constructed some decent sentences and listened for familiar phrases here and there, gathering meaning from gesture, facial expression, and context.

The mind really is an incredible tool, hell-bent on understanding. At one point, I had a rather one-sided conversation about French immigration with someone, and though I didn’t really know what he was saying, whether he was telling me about what I’d be facing or what he was facing, my mind had decided to interpret his words and make meaning from them. I may never know whether my assumption that he was speaking of his own experience was correct.

I was thinking in the car on the ride home in a sort of Anglench…or is it Franglish? It made me think of some of those Bollywood  films where the actors will suddenly throw in an English phrase mid-sentence. I even caught myself thinking, “Je ne sais pas”…as if that was the only way to say, “I don’t know.” Maybe that’s the approach I need to take. In order to get as much practice as I can with what I know, perhaps I should be using as much French as I can in every sentence I speak, using the English when I don’t know the French equivalent.

Another thing I noticed was this weird reflex to throw in Spanish or Italian. I think I said, “Gracie” about three times. After listening to one man share a brief story, I almost blurted out, “Il parles muy bein francais!” Fortunately, someone else spoke first. The fact that I’m going on a spiritual journey to Mexico in a couple of weeks is NOT going to help matters! Of course, there, I’ll probably be speaking some kind of Spananglich. Frenishlench?


Learning French

For years, I’ve wanted to relearn the French language having studied it both when I was a in 5th grade and in high school for a couple of years. Now that Stuart and I have made our decision to settle in France, it is imperative.

As soon as I knew I’d be visiting France, I started using an online learning program called Memrise. They have several free French courses, some better than others, which I really enjoyed. For someone who just needs some familiarity with survival lingo, it’s a great place to start. What I like about Memrise is the science-based learning approach that utilizes memes or images you choose to make remembering a concept easier combined with sight, sound, and of course, repetition. I also like the daily reminders to practice. It isn’t that intuitive though; by that I mean that sometimes, even though I typed in an appropriate phrase, it would be regarded as incorrect because it wasn’t the phrase they expected…and I’d sometimes lose points for typing errors.

Stuart had a CD series of French lessons that I am now using created by Michael Thomas. I like the approach he takes focusing on the cognates and having two pupils who interact with him on the CD, making it more like attending an actual class. You are supposed to pause the CD each time he asks someone to say something en francais, but so far, I haven’t had to do that; I’ve been managing to answer before the students. I imagine it would be a bit of a pain if this were not the case, to be pausing the recording every few minutes or seconds. Still, it’s a good program that has one spitting out complicated strings of words in no time. But so far, my problem is that I have no means to apply what I’m learning…yet.

I also just started getting some French tutoring from my friend, MayaJoelle. She is of French origin and a wonderful French teacher and tour guide. I’m blessed to know her, for her approach is one that focuses not only on the cognates but also on the musicality of the language…something I do understand. She’s also giving me what no online or CD program can which is correction in pronunciation and actual interaction. Ironically, I sometimes wish I could press the pause button working with MayaJoelle! She’ll say things or ask me to say something sometimes that I just simply cannot get my head around…but that’s good because it is what I will no doubt experience in France…the panic and utter confusion of not being able to “find the right word”. MayaJoelle offered me the tip to label everything in my house with its French word. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that sooner. It’s a great idea, and I plan on getting to work on that in the next few days. She’s also recommended watching French movies and listening to French music which I’ll be doing with online resources.

I kind of see learning French now as my job. It is something I must do daily, like exercising and brushing my teeth. It requires a great deal of attention and focus. The more I pour myself into it here, the less intimidated I’ll be when I arrive in France.  N’est-ce pas?