Real French.

If you only learned textbook French in school, could you understand these sentences? All of them are from one page of a thread that I found on a random forum. This is why idioms and slang are an essential part of any language course! Elle tire le diable par la queue. C’est pas vraiment le […]

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Learning languages for free with the internet.

Tip of the day: Use the internet to take advantage of the public domain. Foreign Service Institute Language Courses: Designed and written by the US government but with no copyright protection. You can download the texts (PDF format) and audio files (mp3s) for free. Not all languages are available for download as the site depends […]

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Things I learned today

Le premier mai is la fête du travail (labor day) and the only day in France when anyone can sell flowers legally – not just florists. You will see tons of people and places (if they’re open…) selling muguets (lily of the valley) because it’s supposed to bring good luck to whomever you give them […]

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About About.com

There are very few language sites that offer useful, free information to help you actually learn the real language (slang, idioms, informal speech, etc.) About.com’s language sites do include a lot of useful information, but the problem is finding what you want among the bazillion pages and sponsored links that look exactly like the content. […]

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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 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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