Eavesdropping on the French [New MP3]

I’ve finally uploaded another French Listening mp3 and this one is a little different from the others. First of all, it is much harder to understand because I was basically eavesdropping on random conversations. It starts out with Mamie working on a crossword puzzle, then Parrain talking about winning the lottery and retiring, then Patricia asks Douné if he wants his hair cut, Parrain mentions the end of the world in 2012 according to the Mayan calendar, and then Obama shows up suddenly and the subject gets changed again to staying with a friend. Did you get that in English?? Now try it in French:

This is yet another reason why French is hard to understand. When Anglophones are sitting around a table talking, usually only one person talks at a time while everyone else listens. The opposite happens with Francophones. Several people talk at the same time so it makes it even harder for foreigners to follow along. (This isn’t a dig at Francophones, just an observation – and further support for the need to learn culture and language simultaneously.)

The previous 20 mp3s that I’ve uploaded have been representative of spontaneous, unrehearsed speech which I find much more helpful than carefully scripted and pronounced dialogs. The major difference with this mp3 is that no one knew I was recording them at the time, and so they didn’t have the chance to change their way of speaking like so many people do when they realize their words can be saved forever.  The goal is to make the listener aware of all of the false starts, fillers in speech, and especially slang vocabulary that are so hard to learn from books or even movies (movies are scripted and rehearsed, after all).

I’m trying to bring the real French language to those who want to avoid the catch-22 of language learning: you want to learn the real language before you go abroad so you won’t be totally lost and confused; however, the only way to learn the real language is to go abroad and be constantly exposed to it. I know there is no substitute for living in the country where the language is spoken and interacting with native speakers, but it’s not always an option for certain people. So thank goodness for the internet!

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  • http://www.correresmidestino.com/ Zhu

    What a great idea! I worked with similar conversations with my students and they loved it. Let's face it, at one point, books dialogues are just too predictable and slow.

  • http://www.barncathollow.com/ Lucas

    Wow, you're right. I didn't understand a bit of that (well, maybe 3 or 4 phrases). It's so much easier to read and speak. Have you noticed people talking over each other in Quebec, too? I don't remember them doing so, and I didn't have as much trouble understanding them there. This clip is a good learning tool, so thank you!

  • Rachel

    Houlà, I live in France and still had a little trouble following it. It also is worth noting that when you're actually face to face in a conversation, you pick up on much more not only by context, but also by the facial expressions and movements people make, and the constant “mais atTENDs! c'est pas possible”'s that the French love to throw in. I'd consider myself pretty fluent in French, but sometimes conversations between natives get so heated and fast that my head is scrambling to understand everything! I love it though; it's one of my favorite parts of French (and France).

  • Rachel

    Houlà, I live in France and still had a little trouble following it. It also is worth noting that when you're actually face to face in a conversation, you pick up on much more not only by context, but also by the facial expressions and movements people make, and the constant “mais atTENDs! c'est pas possible”'s that the French love to throw in. I'd consider myself pretty fluent in French, but sometimes conversations between natives get so heated and fast that my head is scrambling to understand everything! I love it though; it's one of my favorite parts of French (and France).

  • http://kaplanov.blogspot.com/ Nadine

    This is the difficulty of explaining why French is so complex:

    Many people outside of France think they 'know' French. Reading some French or having slow one-on-one conversation is NOT the same thing as having to deal with this (like the recording), and that's just when you pass by the neighbors!

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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