Category Archives: Learning French

Free Peace Corps Language Learning Materials: Over 100 Languages Available

By   March 16, 2014

If you love free public domain language learning resources as much as I do, then check out the Peace Corps Language Courses Archive. Live Lingua has a large collection of Peace Corps manuals teaching languages ranging from Acholi to Zarma (over 100 languages are available!) and some also include audio resources in addition to the language manuals. If you have other PC manuals to share, please let Live Lingua know and they will add them to their site.

Free Peace Corps Language Learning Materials: Over 100 Languages Available

The Peace Corps does have their own Digital Library of Technical and Training Manuals if you are also interested in learning more about the work that PC Volunteers do. Although this library doesn’t seem to offer language courses, some of the manuals are written in French and Spanish so they can still be used as language learning resources.

Frozen’s “Let it Go” in 25 Languages with Subtitles

By   January 27, 2014

Disney has released a multilingual version of the song “Let it Go” from the film Frozen. There are 25 languages total in the song, and luckily there is a version on Dailymotion with all of the lyrics and English translations available as subtitles:

“Let It Go” (All 25 Languages Transcript… by Ko Sherman

If you click CC at the top, you will see three options for subtitles:
1. EN (English): Translation
2. ZH (Chinese): Multilingual
3. FR (French) : Romanisation (of Multilingual lyrics)

You can also find the full song in several languages on Youtube, even those languages that are not included in this video. Just search for Let it Go in [language] and you’ll find that some videos have the lyrics and translations included, such as this Dutch version:

Using MOOC Videos and Subtitles to Learn Languages

By   October 1, 2013

Although there don’t seem to be any MOOCs on the major provider platforms for learning languages (Update: Finally, they do exist!), Coursera does offer courses in French, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, etc. that you can use to help you learn the language. Most, if not all of them, provide subtitles for the videos so you can watch and read at the same time.

EdX has also started offering courses in Spanish and French, but unlike Coursera there is no option to sort courses by the language they are offered in so you will need to choose from the Schools & Partners list. For example, UAM, UC3M, UPValencia, OEC and IDB are all Spanish-speaking institutions while Louvain and EPFL are French-speaking.

Several courses in French and Spanish are available via FUN and Miríada X while iversity has a few courses in German. These platforms are more likely to offer subtitles since they are designed for native speakers of these languages.

Spanish language courses on Coursera

The great thing about Coursera is how easy it is to download all of the videos and subtitles at once. After joining a course, go to the Videos page that lists all of the available lectures. Using the free DownThemAll add-on for Firefox, you can download all of the files by using the Fast Filtering option to select only the videos and subtitles. (The subtitles are in .srt format and not hard coded into the videos so you can turn them off to test your comprehension.)

Down Them All Add-On for Firefox

FYI: Even if a course has already finished, sometimes you can still enroll and have access to the videos within the class archive.

European Day of Languages 2013

By   September 25, 2013

Just a reminder – the European day of Languages / Journée européenne des langues is tomorrow, September 26!


From the official website:

Throughout Europe, 800 million Europeans represented in the Council of Europe’s 47 member states are encouraged to learn more languages, at any age, in and out of school. Being convinced that linguistic diversity is a tool for achieving greater intercultural understanding and a key element in the rich cultural heritage of our continent, the Council of Europe promotes plurilingualism in the whole of Europe.

The Great Language Game: How many languages can you identify?

By   September 4, 2013

Here’s a fun new game to get addicted to: The Great Language Game. Data scientist Lars Yencken has created a neat game where you listen to an audio clip and choose which language it is. All of the clips are from Australia’s SBS (which you should listen to anyway since so many languages are available). The number of possible responses increases the longer you play to make it more challenging. So far the highest score is 4,050. Can you beat that?


Trilingual English-Spanish-French Books for Children

By   July 26, 2013

I am constantly looking for trilingual (English-Spanish-French) books for my young niece and nephew. So far I have found two series on, Little Pim (which has 4 books of numbers, colors, feelings and animals) and I love to sleep/eat. Do you know of other trilingual books?

Trilingual English-Spanish-French Books for Children

Trilingual books for children

Trilingual English-Spanish-French Books for Children

I love to sleep and I love to eat are touch and feel books.

Trilingual English-Spanish-French Books for Children

Little Pim has flaps and tabs.


How Adaptation to Culture Affects Motivation in Language Learning

By   July 8, 2013

An article on sociolinguistic competence (Dewaele, 2007) introduced me to research on language learners’ ideological beliefs and conflicts with the target culture that can hinder language acquisition. Dewaele provides two examples from Kinginger (2004) and Kinginger & Farrell’s (2005) research on Americans studying abroad in France which illustrate the importance of intercultural understanding and adaptation to the target culture in language learning.

One student was annoyed that her French friend would not let her NOT have an opinion on politics and openly criticized the American government. She didn’t care much for politics and did not want to talk about it because she did not feel that it was an appropriate topic for discussion. Yet her friend would not let her change the subject. She consciously chose not to adapt to the French concept of “you must have an opinion” and decided to say nothing on the topic which created tension with her friend.

Another student purposely resisted French gender patterns because she found it “ridiculous” that French women were “obsessed” with their looks. She expressed frustration at the sexism and harassment of women she saw on a daily basis which made her “hate to go outside.” She refused to conform to what she believed to be stereotypical French standards of what it means to be woman (i.e. overly concerned about appearance) and thought it perfectly acceptable to attend class in sweatpants or pajamas, as she often saw at her university in the US. Because of this, she made little effort to spend time with French speakers and spent most of her time abroad speaking English with other students or friends and family in the US via the internet.

There have been many studies on the perception of sexism by American learners in study abroad contexts, especially in countries such as Russia or Japan. But the perceptions and ideologies of the learner needs to be understood in the context of how they help or hinder language acquisition for that individual. It is not enough to be motivated to learn a language – one must also be motivated to learn and experience the culture associated with the language. However, if cultural practices are considered undesirable by the learner, opportunities to use the language with native speakers will diminish as the learner resists or even rejects the target culture.

This is perhaps why the rate of language acquisition for students doing study abroad varies so widely. In fact, Kinginger & Farrell maintain that “systematic research has yet to demonstrate universal effectiveness of study abroad for language learning.” Living in a country where the language is spoken is not enough. There are many, many factors to consider including gender, personality, level of language competence before study abroad, time spent using the native language, etc.


de Nooy and Hanna (2003) also point out that “mere contact with other cultures may simply reinforce stereotypes and encourage hostility rather than fostering comprehension and mutual respect.” Spending time abroad in the target culture could (and unfortunately, does) cause learners to lose motivation and interest in learning the language if there are too many conflicts between the native and target cultures. Obviously, there will always be conflicts and differences between native and target cultures, but intercultural comprehension allows learners to occupy a third place between the native and target cultures with understanding and tolerance for both. Instead of judging the target culture based on how different (or better or worse) it is from the native culture, learners avoid falling back on their native culture to interpret the target culture and understand the value systems underlying the cultural differences between them.


de Nooy, J., & Hanna, B. E. (2003). Cultural Information Gathering by Australian Students in France. Language and Intercultural Communication, 3(1), 64-80.
Dewaele, J.-M. (2007). Diachronic and/or synchronic variation? The acquisition of sociolinguistic competence in L2 French. In D. Ayoun (Ed.), Handbook of French Applied Linguistics (Vol. Language Learning & Language Teaching 16, pp. 208-236). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Kinginger, C. 2004. “Alice doesn’t live here anymore: Foreign language learning and identity reconstruction”. In Negotiation of Identities in Multilingual Contexts, A. Pavlenko and A. Blackledge (eds.), 219–42. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Kinginger, C. and Farrell Whitworth, K. 2005. “Gender and emotional investment in language learning during study abroad”. CALPER Working Papers Series 2, 1-12. The Pennsylvania State University, Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research.

Australian & New Zealand Universities that offer French

By   June 29, 2013

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:


  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

By   June 19, 2013

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.

So Much for the Asian Century: Loss of Language Programs at Australian Universities

By   June 10, 2013

The University of Canberra and Curtin University both recently announced that they would be cutting their language programs. At Canberra, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish will disappear while at Curtin, Japanese, Mandarin and a major in Asian Studies may be abandoned. These cuts are very unfortunate since it leaves these universities with no language classes or majors at all. It is also surprising considering the government’s push for a focus on Asian cultures and languages. Indonesian programs have also been closing in Australia, though luckily the programs at La Trobe and University of New South Wales have been saved (for now). The University of Western Sydney is keeping their Chinese and Japanese programs, but doing away with Arabic, Italian and Spanish.

Low enrollment is always the excuse for cutting programs, and universities claim that students can just take the classes at neighboring institutions and that it will actually strengthen those programs. Brisbane Universities Languages Alliance exists for this purpose and students enrolled at any of the three universities in Brisbane can take language classes at another and have the credits count toward their degree. The University of Canberra suggests that students simply take classes cross-institutionally at ANU, while students of Curtin can take language classes at the University of Western Australia. However, this rarely actually happens as David Hill points out and “it is a myth the closure of a language department at one university strengthens those of rivals.” It is much more likely that students will just stop taking language classes altogether. Trying to attend language classes at a different university (which most likely aren’t even required since no Australian university requires a foreign language for a BA) is too much of a hassle when factoring in the time for the commute and conflicting timetables among universities. Even students at my university who are based at the city campuses are less likely to travel 20-30 minutes to the humanities campus to take a foreign language.Open-Universities-Australia-OUA_large

Even though online class enrollments have been increasing, very few Australian universities offer language classes online. The University of New England is “the only [university] in Australia to offer a full programme of French by distance education.” My university offers first year Italian as an online course through Open Universities Australia, but you cannot obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Italian or any other language from OU. Perhaps if Australian universities invested in online education, enrollments would increase in certain subjects? With so many rural students and working students, I’m always surprised that distance education is not more of a priority in Australia.

Australian universities will be hit hard with a $2.8 billion cut next year in the most ridiculous decision ever made on education funding as the money will be used to pay for K-12 school reforms instead. Australian universities could save a lot of money by decreasing the astronomical pay of vice chancellors and putting their money towards academics instead of rugby. VCs should really be paid the same amount as casual staff so they know what it’s like to be overworked and underpaid rather than the opposite. Luckily most Australian universities do not have any involvement in sports teams so academics tends to be the focus, yet most of the money still goes to a few at the top rather than the teaching and research staff who do the most work for the university. Cutting language programs should be a last resort since universities are supposed to provide students with an “international and intercultural educational experience” but I suppose we can do that in English since all seven billion humans speak English natively and belong to the same Anglophone culture, right?