Tag Archives: french

Australian & New Zealand Universities that offer French

Australian and New Zealand Universities that Offer French

For Francophiles based in the South Pacific region, 20 out of the 39 universities in Australia and 6 out of the 8  universities in New Zealand currently offer French:

Australia

  1. Australian National University
  2. Edith Cowan University
  3. Flinders University
  4. James Cook University
  5. La Trobe University
  6. Macquarie University
  7. Monash University
  8. RMIT University
  9. University of Adelaide
  10. University of Melbourne
  11. University of New England
  12. University of New South Wales
  13. University of Newcastle
  14. University of Queensland
  15. University of South Australia
  16. University of Sydney
  17. University of Technology, Sydney
  18. University of Tasmania
  19. University of Western Australia
  20. University of Wollongong

New Zealand

  1. Massey University
  2. University of Auckland
  3. University of Canterbury
  4. University of Otago
  5. University of Waikato
  6. Victoria University of Wellington

If small island living is your thing, then the University of the South Pacific also offers courses in French. The main campus is in Suva, Fiji, but there are campuses on eleven other island nations.

France in the South Pacific

And of course Université de la Nouvelle-Calédonie and Université de la Polynésie Française offer courses and degrees in French since these islands are collectivités of France and use French as an official language.

Let me know if I’ve missed a university.

Basic Phrases with Pronunciation: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, and Swedish Available

If you’d like to study basic phrases for French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, or Swedish, I’ve created new pages with the list of phrases and mp3s for each phrase (instead of one mp3 for all the phrases together). Now you can listen to each phrase individually before trying out the audio flashcards to test yourself.

Basic Phrases with Pronunciation: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, and Swedish Available

 

 

Dutch and Danish will be coming next, and eventually I’d like to have audio on the Romance Languages Phrases and Germanic Languages Phrases pages as well.

Classroom Games for Introductory / Beginning French Classes

Every week in my first semester French class, we played games to review and reinforce what we did in the previous class. For other French teachers out there who are looking for more activities, these are what I actually used in my class this year. A lot of these I found on Pinterest, where I have a Teaching French at Uni board. Some of these classroom games require little to no prep, but having dice and maybe some playing pieces on hand is always a good idea.

Classroom Games for Beginning French Classes

Hangman is the first game I start with to practice the alphabet, though I change it to Escape from Alcatraz (draw the stickman jumping into the water and escaping from the island) to make it somewhat less depressing.

Bingo is an obvious choice for practicing numbers, and I have also used it with regular vocabulary. I only included the English words and did not allow them to write down the French words, but they did have to recite the words in French in order to win. I used a bingo card generator in Excel.

Battleship is pretty handy for practicing verb conjugations and putting sentences together. I used the clothes and porter one from the French Teachers in New Zealand site, and made my own for practicing être and aller with prepositions and places. [download .doc]

For family members, we play le jeu de sept familles and I have them alternate with using est-ce que tu as and est-ce que vous avez. I bought 5 decks from amazon.fr for about 20 euros instead of making my own.

Guess Who ? / Qui est-ce ? is the obvious choice for describing physical appearance. I just pasted in Francophone names. [download .jpg]

Où se trouve ___ ? is a speaking activity for prepositions and places that I adapted from a Spanish version. [download .xls]

Faire expressions just requires a dice. Students must say a sentence using an expression with faire in order to move to that square. [download .doc]

To review vocabulary at the end of the semester, we played Scattergories / Le petit bac, which requires virtually no preparation.

Jeopardy was also great for review at the end of the semester. This site has lots of Powerpoint games to choose from.

Other games that I thought about  using but didn’t have the time to make (or money to buy) include:

Uno to practice verb conjugations (you must play either the same verb or the same conjugation); Teacher’s Discovery created Verbo

Connect 4 – you just need to create the boards with words/phrases or pictures and have some playing pieces

Word Roll – somewhat similar to Connect 4, especially if you only have dice and not enough playing pieces

Alphabet Game – students must think quickly to name words that begin with the letter they chose

Apples to Apples would be a good review of vocabulary. Teacher’s Discovery has a game called Cognate Frenzy that they bill as their version of Apples to Apples for first year French students.

Slap and Spoons are two card games that I’d like to try next year, while Pictionary, Taboo, and Password seem like they would be fun as well. If I do create more games for next semester, I will update this post!

Update I: Teaching Tools Tip of the Day: Dry Erase Sheets and Dry Erase Pockets

Update II: Bescherelle Le Jeu and Other French Language Games


Free Corpora of Spoken French for French Language Learners or Researchers

Free Corpora of Spoken French for French Learners or Researchers

Learn French with Free Corpora of Spoken French

I am always looking for corpora of spoken French for my research so I was quite surprised to come across several freely available resources on the internet in the past week. Most of these corpora contain audio and/or video with transcripts of authentic and spontaneous spoken French – perfect for self-study or use in a language lab.

  • SACODEYL (System-aided compilation: an open distribution of European youth language) is actually available in seven EU languages (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, and Lithuanian) and was designed specifically for teaching purposes. Click on Resources after choosing a corpus to access the learning packages.
  • TCOF (Traitement de Corpus Oraux en Français) includes recordings from the 1980’s and 1990’s, available under a Creative Commons license.
  • CFPP2000 (Corpus de français parlé parisien des années 2000) contains several interviews of Parisians from the early 2000’s. Audio files and transcripts are available for download.
  • CFPQ (Corpus de français parlé au Québec) is a multimodal corpus that also includes information on non-verbal aspects of communication (such as gestures, facial movements, etc.) It also dates from the 2000’s; however, only PDFs of the transcripts are available.

Other corpora of spoken French or simply videos with transcripts that I’ve mentioned in the past include:

And don’t forget my French Listening Resources, with plenty of transcripts and exercises.

If you know of other freely accessible corpora of French, please let me know.

English and “Correct” Words in French

L’Académie française has once again called for more “defense” of the French language against incorrect use of the language, especially with regards to Anglicisms. I do not agree with l’Académie’s prescriptivist ideas on vocabulary use and trying to force the formal (often written) language onto the spoken form. It is one thing to determine if a sentence is grammatically correct concerning function words, verb conjugations, word order, etc. but it is completely different to proclaim that certain content words are incorrect since vocabulary choice is highly dependent on the topic, context, medium (speech/writing) and audience. As long as the meaning of the words are similar (such as formal vs. informal variants), there is no correct or incorrect use of a word over another. It is merely what is appropriate or not to that particular situation. Saying “Hey, what’s up?” to the president is not incorrect – because that would imply that it would never be used at all by native speakers, when in fact it is used quite often – but it is inappropriate to use an informal variant in a formal situation.

Telegraph has a recent article on L’Académie’s fight against English words in French. Their website includes a new page called “Dire, Ne pas dire” which includes les fautes, les tics de langage et les ridicules qui s’observent le plus fréquemment dans le français contemporain. Jean-Matthieu Pasqualini of the Académie said “We want to restore courage to all those in France and outside France who endeavour to defend and enrich the language. Let French remain a great language of communication and culture.” But what does he mean by enrich? Claiming that some words in contemporary French (that aren’t even Anglicisms) are absurd or wrong doesn’t exactly seem like a good start.

France’s culture ministry also has a new website for people to propose French words in place of the borrowed English words at wikilf.culture.fr which states “il ne s’agit nullement de déclarer la guerre aux mots étrangers, anglais en particulier, qui sont passés dans la langue courante – pas question de toucher au week-end et au sandwich – mais d’anticiper l’utilité d’un terme étranger qui pourrait s’installer en français.” (Telegraph’s translation: “This is in no way about declaring war on foreign terms, English in particular, that have entered into common usage like sandwich or weekend. It is about anticipating the usefulness of a foreign term that could be settling into the French language.”) While I’m happy to see that they acknowledge the natural state of constant evolution and change that occurs in all human languages, the fact that they are trying to propose French translations for Anglicisms that have yet to become so entrenched in the language seems a bit suspect. There is nothing wrong with wanting to use the French translations, of course, but why is it considered ok to use sandwich and week-end but not casting or email? Just because sandwich and week-end have been used in French for longer, that somehow makes them more acceptable?

I know I have expressed my annoyance at the use of English words in French in the past, but I am not frustrated because of the existence of the borrowings, which are natural and normal in any language. I am frustrated that language learning materials do not include the borrowings or other aspects of contemporary French vocabulary. They only tend to include the standardized form of the language, or what people should say (dictated by l’Académie) instead of what people actually say, which is not useful for students who need to comprehend the various dialects and styles and which leaves them with an inaccurate and stereotypical portrayal of the French language.

Another reason that resistance to borrowings is a bit unreasonable is that certain words in English are actually borrowings from old French, which then have later been re-borrowed back into French in the newer Anglicized form. Toast in English comes from old French toster, whereas modern French stopped using toster in favor of pain grillé, but has also borrowed toast from modern English. So is le toast really an Anglicism if it was originally French?

Are you French or English, Mr. Toast?

When it comes to Anglicisms, many people like to point out that Quebecois French has more English borrowings than French in France (which isn’t true) to justify their prejudiced view that Quebecois French isn’t “real” French. That’s just as ridiculous as saying American English isn’t real English or Mexican Spanish isn’t real Spanish simply because it is not spoken in the “mother country” where the language originated. I do not understand the colonialistic attitudes about language use, just as I do not understand why some people make a connection between the older form of a language and a supposed superiority of the variety that is closest to the old form. A dialect that is more conservative with change is somehow more desirable than the others, yet many people believe that the mother country dialect is also the most conservative which is not true. Quebecois French contains many aspects of Old French that speakers in France no longer use, which some wrongly assume are Anglicisms when in fact they are Old French.

In Quebecois, Belgian and Swiss French the three meals of the day are le déjeuner, le dîner, and le souper whereas most areas of France nowadays use le petit déjeuner, le déjeuner and le dîner.* Quebec French did not borrow le souper from English supper; English borrowed it from Old French soper which turned into souper in modern French. In France, le souper is another meal even later than dinner and is usually associated with rural areas or an older generation. The words dinner and supper in English have also changed meaning somewhat over time. In my dialect of English, dinner and supper are synonyms for the evening meal, but in other forms of English, dinner is the midday meal (instead of lunch) and supper is the evening meal (instead of dinner) so the older French, current Quebec and English meals were parallels at one time: déjeuner = breakfast (dé + jeûne: undo or break fast), dîner = dinner and souper = supper.

Wordreference.com has a thread on the names of the meals where native speakers contribute what they say in their region. Looking at posts #2 and #6, you can see how far the idea of bon usage and correct French (i.e. what l’Académie says is correct) has spread. I quote from the forum:

De manière correcte et quelles que soient les régions de France :
on déjeune à midi
on dîne ou on soupe le soir (plus utilisé en milieu rural)

and the post that made me nearly cry, which refers to the above post:

Tout-à-fait d’accord. Mais chez nous (sud-est), on continue à parler de “dîner” à midi. Chez moi, quand j’étais petite, on se simplifiait encore plus la vie : dîner, midi et soir . Le “déjeuner” c’était le petit déj’. Quand je suis sortie dans le monde, j’ai été très étonnée qu’on l’appelle “petit” !

Maintenant, grâce aux médias, la langue s’uniformise et on respecte de plus en plus le bon usage français.

I wonder if the millions of people in France who don’t use déjeuner and dîner in the same manner as the first poster know that they do not speak “correct” French. As for the second poster, I feel sorry that she thinks that her native dialect is not correct while at the same time praising the effects of standardization, which lead to her dialect being considered incorrect in the first place.

These are issues of geographic variation, but using one word instead of the other is not incorrect. Compare the use of pop vs. soda vs. coke in the US. I’m from Michigan so I say pop, but I don’t consider the use of soda or coke to be wrong or incorrect. They are simply different ways of saying the same thing depending on where you are from or where you are currently located. All dialects of a language should be seen as equals but the standardized form used in most writing, and which is generally based on the upper classes, is often considered the only correct variety. There is a place for the standardized form, especially for communication purposes and even teaching students how to produce language, but the other varieties are also just as valid as human languages and should not be reduced to incorrect deviations of the prestige form.

* Even more confusing is the spoken/informal use of déjeuner to mean “to eat breakfast” even in areas where the three meals are le petit déjeuner, le déjeuner and le dîner!

Comparative Grammar of the French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese Languages

Comparative Grammar of French, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese Available as PDF

Comparative Grammar of French, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese Available as PDF

I have finally finished scanning the 1868 book Comparative Grammar of French, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese Languages by Edwin A. Notley that I first mentioned in April. It is 412 pages total and available to download in PDF format.

The original 19 x 13 cm book is set up with two columns on the left page for French and Italian and two columns on the right page for Spanish and Portuguese. If you want to print a section, I would advise experimenting with multiple page or booklet printing first. I tried to clean up the pages the best that I could considering the age of the book, and some of the pages are not as straight as I would like them to be, but I wanted to share this book sooner rather than later.

You can download the file from one of the following links. The file size is about 69.1 MB, so please be patient.

 

UPDATE: @MmeCaspari has uploaded the PDF to FlipSnack if you’d like to flip through the book online before downloading. (Also works on iPad/iPhone/iPod.)

 

Disclaimer: This book is in the public domain in the US since it was published before 1922. Please check your country’s copyright laws before downloading if you are not in the US.

Buy French Language Tutorial - PDF plus over FIVE HOURS of mp3s!

French Language Tutorial (2nd edition) Now Available

The 2nd edition of French Language Tutorial is now available!

Changes from the first edition:

  • Much more vocabulary and sample sentences, such as asking for help, giving advice, expressing opinions, likes & dislikes, etc.
  • New order of topics with cross-references (clickable within the PDF) for easier review of previous vocabulary
  • Conjugations in present, past (imperfect) and future tenses for irregular verbs throughout the book, with International Phonetic Alphabet symbols for pronunciation
  • Each page has its own mp3 to make listening and reading along easier
  • Mp3s have been re-recorded by three native speakers (including a female voice)
  • Alphabetical index for vocabulary and grammar topics

The 2nd edition of FLT is currently only $29 USD and it includes over 200 mp3s – that’s more than FIVE HOURS of French.

Visit the store for more information or click Buy Now below.


French Language Tutorial (2nd ed.) e-book

PDF format + 209 mp3s

Immediate download through Gumroad

$29


Buy Now

 

Italian & French in Aosta Valley, Italy

For those who love both Italian and French, I recommend a trip to the Aosta Valley of Italy. It is an autonomous region in the northwestern corner of Italy, bordering France and Switzerland. Both Italian and French are official languages, though the majority of the inhabitants speak Italian as a first language. Valdôtain, a dialect of Franco-Provençal, and a dialect of Walser German are also spoken in certain areas.  In main tourist towns, such as Courmayeur and Aosta, French and English are widely spoken as well as some German.

I went to Courmayeur this past weekend because I had never been to Val d’Aosta even though it is quite close to where I live. Courmayeur is located on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, opposite Chamonix on the French side. The easiest way to get there from France is to drive through the tunnel under Mont Blanc. It’s about 11 km / 7 miles long and costs 45.90€ for the roundtrip toll. The only other options would be to take a SAVDA bus from Chambéry/Annecy, or a train to Chamonix, then switch to a bus there. It is also possible to take a train from Chambéry to Turin and head north towards Aosta, but it is much longer and the train actually stops in Pré-Saint-Didier so you will still need to take a bus to Courmayeur.

Surrounded by huge mountains

The weather is actually colder in this part of the Alps and there is plenty of snow in winter for skiing – yet there is plenty of sunshine and hiking opportunities in summer.  Courmayeur is touristy like Chamonix, but it also felt smaller and even a bit cheaper (at least for meals.) The food was similar to what you find in the French Alps: fromage (cheese) and charcuterie (meats). Their fonduta/fondue is made with fontina cheese and accompanies polenta and gnocchi. Mocetta, dried beef, is also common, and tegole, cookies shaped in the form of Alpine roof tiles, are a typical dessert.  The architecture is also similar with lots of beautiful wood chalets.

Snow above my waist

Besides skiing and hiking, the region is known for its thermal baths and spas. I hope to return for longer than a weekend next time so I can take advantage of them, such as the Terme di Pré Saint Didier.  Even if you can’t make it to the Aosta Valley, you can still go on a virtual roadtrip and check out the beautiful scenery thanks to Google Street View.

Can you spot the télécabine going up the mountain?

I’ve uploaded the rest of my Courmayeur photos to the Gallery and Flickr.

French Dictionary for Non-Native Speakers of French

After skimming (ok, actually reading, because I am that much of a nerd) through my new French dictionary that is designed for non-native speakers, I definitely recommend it for learners of French. It is entirely in French, but it uses simple language to explain the definitions so I think it could be useful for beginners too.  It is a joint publication by Le Robert and CLE International, available on amazon.com (through third party sellers) and amazon.fr:


Dictionnaire du Francais

The pronunciation guide is standard IPA and what is great is that there are pronunciations for conjugated forms of verbs, and not just in the present tense.  The only other book I’ve ever found that provides this is All French Verbs from A to Z by Larousse. I know not everyone knows the IPA, but if you’re serious about learning foreign languages and acquiring proper pronunciation, then it’s extremely helpful.

The most frequent words used in French are marked with an arrow and there are also 350 proper nouns included (with pronunciation, of course.) Throughout the dictionary, relevant false cognates are listed and there is an annex of the full lists in 14 languages at the end. Plural forms of nouns, placement of adjectives, prepositions following verbs, as well as the register (vulgar, informal, standard, formal, etc.) of the word are also included.  Finally, other annexes are sigles, or acronyms and abbreviations, and their pronunciation if they are pronounced as a word instead of letter by letter; geographical names in their original language and the French translation; sections on countries and nationalities, numbers and official time; French governmental institutions; a chronology of French history; and conjugation tables.

The Beginning Translator’s Workbook (French to English)

I bought The Beginning Translator’s Workbook: Or the ABC of French to English Translation a long time ago when I thought I might want to try translating as a career and I finally got around to reading it this past week. It actually offers a lot of good tips for switching between the two languages that anyone learning French should find helpful.  The part I found the most interesting was on Modulation, or when the two languages “see” the same concept in different angles and so the semantical, grammatical or syntactical properties need to change when translating. With my students here in France, this seems to be a source of most of their errors – they try to translate literally, word for word, into English and it obviously doesn’t work the majority of the time.

For example, in English we have a goldfish and a polar bear whereas in French it’s literally a red fish (poisson rouge) and a white bear (ours blanc).  Sometimes one word in English is a group of words in French and vice versa: the verb to kick is donner un coup de pied, while the adverb dorénavant is from now on. French favors the active construction beginning with On m’a dit… instead of the passive construction I was told… and the prepositions following certain verbs are more often different than the same. To start with is commencer par, to look at is regarder, to attend is assister à, etc.  But it seems to me many of these structures are learned while you learn the vocabulary and grammar, so it’s more of a matter of just memorizing the equivalent expression in French, such as we do with proverbs and idioms because they cannot be translated literally either.

Textbooks explain the grammatical rules and always have lists of vocabulary, but one point they do not focus on much is the difference between analytic Romance languages and synthetic Germanic languages.  English uses many compound expressions that do not need connectors, usually in the form adjective (or compound adjective) + noun. French, on the other hand, prefers to use prepositions to link the ideas together. We say a brown-eyed girl in English, but in French we must say une fille aux yeux marron (literally, a girl with brown eyes).  A fast-growing company in English is literally a company in full development, une compagnie en plein essor.  Students learn business English, whereas in French it’s called l’anglais des affaires.

At least for me, I find the analytic vs. synthetic difference the hardest to remember when trying to translate English to French. Adaptation (translating the cultural aspects) also throws me off sometimes when I can’t figure out how to say allocations familiales in a few words in English without describing the whole system or remembering the conversions from Fahrenheit to Celcius or feet to meters. Since language and culture are impossible to separate, learners of any language must also learn the cultural references, but trying to translate those concepts into your native language can be a bit difficult.