Remember how I complained about English words in French?

Loan words are definitely not helping my students learn English vocabulary. They were supposed to write partitive expressions to make uncount nouns countable on the test last week. All of the images they had to identify were used in their daily lessons, so they should have known which words to use.

The correct answer is a loaf of bread. What did some of my students write? Cake. Which is understandable since most bread in France does not look like this and in French, un cake is this (whether it’s sugary, salty or fruity):

I would call this a fruitcake in English, but all the others I would tend to call bread, i.e. banana bread, zucchini bread, etc. because they look like small loaves of bread even if they’re not really “bread.” A cake to me is much larger (round or square), usually in flavors of chocolate, vanilla, cherry chip, marble, carrot, etc. and covered in frosting.

This is a bowl (or box) of cereal. If the students didn’t write cereals (because it’s plural in French), they would write cornflakes and I don’t think it was because of the barely distinguishable green rooster on the box (which was black & white on the test anyway). David tells me that you can use cornflakes to refer to cereal in general in French, even though it only refers to a specific type of cereal in English.

Other answers weren’t so wrong, such as a pack of chewing-gum instead of just a pack of gum. The chewing part isn’t said very often in everyday American English, and there’s no hyphen (which annoyingly seems to make its way into a lot of English loan words in French.)

Yes, my students should have learned the vocabulary we went over in class, but I understand how it’s confusing for them to think they’re using English words properly when they’re really not. If the word was borrowed from English, why would the meaning be changed in French? I hope they’re just as annoyed about it as I am.

Les français aussi ont un accent.

+-*I wanted to read Les français aussi ont un accent by Jean-Benoît Nadeau, the same author of 60 Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, because I thought I would enjoy a Quebecker’s take on expat life in France. This book is in French, which is half of the reason why I wanted to read it, but […]

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English Teaching Assistantships in Europe for 2009-10 School Year

+-*It’s that time of year again! English Assistant in France Teach English conversation 12 hours a week in Primary or Secondary schools for a monthly stipend of 780 €. Medical insurance & paid holidays. Contracts of 6, 7, or 9 months, all beginning October 1. Students of any major can apply, though applicants should have […]

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November 11

+-*Hug a veteran today.

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Mexican Food! Finally!

+-*November 5th was David’s and my 2 year anniversary, so we decided to go out to eat last night. I had been wanting to go to a Mexican restaurant forever (since I’d left the US…), but we never got around to it somehow over the past 24 months. Either we’re extremely busy or there aren’t […]

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I don’t say this often, but today I really mean it.

+-*I’M PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!

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Yup, we bought one.

+-*The Nicolas Sarkozy Voodoo Doll. He tried to have it banned in France, but he didn’t succeed. Not yet, anyway. Maybe it will be worth money someday. Or maybe we’ll just let the cat eat it.

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First Semester Language

+-*We all laugh at these songs that make fun of beginning language classes and the somewhat useless words and phrases we learn. How many times in French have I ever said “Où est la bibliothèque ?” Um, probably never. But these videos also show the poor attempt at language teaching and/or the poor attempt at […]

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Sylvie et Emeric Autour du Monde

+-*Back in July, two of David’s friends took off on a tour du monde (trip around the world). This seems to be pretty common as I’ve heard of many French people/couples who do it. I have no idea how they afford it though! Sylvie & Emeric started their trip in New York, with visits to […]

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French Jack-o’-Lantern

+-*Auchan was selling pumpkins this week, so I had to get one. I was surprised they even had them considering how small their Halloween costume section is. And their Halloween candy aisle is just non-existent. There was a huge section for chrysanthemums though, for la Toussaint* – which I stupidly didn’t get when I first […]

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Where Jennie talks about learning and teaching languages, traveling the world, and being an immigrant/expat.

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