Y en. (Not a French donkey.)

I hate y and en. These little words have caused so much confusion for me in French. The basic rules are: 1) y replaces a prepositional phrase (except those beginning with de). It translates as “there” or “it” and sometimes it is not translated into English. On va à Boston demain. We’re going to Boston […]

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La langue française me rend folle.

Sometimes there are certain aspects of the French language that drive me crazy. Verbs of movement is one example. French does not use adverbs of motion the same way that English does, so it is not possible to translate literally “He ran across the street” into French. Sure, you can say il a couru for […]

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On learning and teaching

I cracked open my French vocabulary books after a much-too-long break from them, and rediscovered why I love learning new words. Vocabulaire expliqué du français; niveau intermédiaire begins with a chapter on prefixes and suffixes, which are mostly the same in English thanks to Latin. But there was one prefix I didn’t know in French: […]

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School & Public Transportation Vocabulary

un débrayage – short stoppage in work, not necessarily caused by a strike. Can include short protests against something that cannot be changed, complete with speeches that cannot be heard over the noise of uninterested students happy to have an excuse to miss class. Also the cause of unexpected trous in one’s schedule (see below). […]

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Je cherche une voiture automatique.

I’m trying to find an automatic car that isn’t too expensive so that I don’t have to take the train to work anymore. Comprehending car ads in French is no easy task. And thanks a lot, paruvendu.fr, for recently removing the search function that specifies boîte automatique instead of boîte manuelle. ::sigh:: I am not […]

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Je suis de retour.

So I arrived in Geneva late Tuesday afternoon. My luggage, however, did not. It was sunny and 75 when I left Michigan. Here it’s cloudy and 50. And it took us 3 hours to drive back to Annecy from the airport when it normally takes 40 minutes. Welcome back to France, indeed. Being in Michigan […]

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Why French Grammar is Hard

Sam’s recent post about the three nouns in French that are masculine when singular, yet feminine when plural (amour, délice, orgue) got me thinking about other ridiculous grammar rules in French. So I give you (some of the) reasons why French grammar is a cruel joke for those trying to learn it: 1. Use of […]

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FIA Addiction

Just when I decide I need to get off my computer and do things in the real world more often, I agree to start writing summaries of French in Action episodes for the FIA Wiki created by my new favorite blog, Mystère et boules de gomme ! I’m going to write up a new page […]

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Food confusion

Last night, David decided he wanted to make fajitas. So we went to Leclerc and finally found the tiny international section (international meaning Mexican and Chinese). There was one brand of fajita mix, Tex-Mex something, so we grabbed it and started collecting the other ingredients… onion, pepper, chicken… and corn? I never ate Mexican food […]

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Rage against the… books?

I have this habit of taking online French placement tests, just for fun. (Most language schools’ websites have free tests you can take.) The majority of these tests focus on verb conjugations and agreement between nouns and adjectives. In other words, grammar. This is why I always get near perfect scores on these tests even […]

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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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