Category Archives: Learning French

Most Studied Languages in Europe, Australia and the US

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the European Day of Languages and Eurostat has provided statistics about the most studied languages in the 27 member states of the European Union plus Iceland, Norway, Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey (though stats for Portugal are missing).

“In the EU27 in 2009, 82% of pupils at primary and lower secondary level and 95% of those in upper secondary level general programmes were studying English as a foreign language. The second most commonly studied foreign language at primary and lower secondary level was French (16% of pupils), followed by German (9%) and Spanish (6%), while at upper secondary level it was German (27%), followed by French (26%) and Spanish (19%).”

Take a look at the table in the PDF file. I was a bit surprised to see Spanish as the 2nd most studied language in Norway and Sweden, as well as Danish in Iceland, but the rest weren’t all that surprising (Russian in the Baltics and Bulgaria, German in Eastern Europe, French in Romania, etc.)

I’ve already posted about enrollment data for Australia, where Japanese and Italian take the lead (though Indonesian and French practically tie for third place). The ACTFL has a recent report for American public schools where Spanish, French and German are still the main three languages. The MLA has the same information available for universities and colleges, where Spanish, French and German are still the top three as well even with the large increase in Arabic and Chinese enrollments. American Sign Language and Italian are nearly tied for 4th place.

New French-Language Films: Omar m’a tuer and French Immersion

Even though I am living in an Anglophone country again, I still find ways to immerse myself in languages. Besides e-mail and Skype to keep in contact with friends, I am still using French quite a bit since my PhD research is on the teaching of variation in French. I’ve also been able to find other French-speaking expats in my area as well as find out about French Club activities through the local universities. I’ve subscribed to Quickflix for foreign DVD rentals (no streaming yet in Australia like with Netflix in the States), and SBS’s On Demand feature is quite handy for streaming foreign films that were recently broadcast. SBS is a free TV & radio channel so I don’t actually have to spend money to listen to languages even when I’m not connected to the internet.

One thing I do miss about living in a Francophone country are newly-released French-language films. If you remember the Omar m’a tuer case that I posted about earlier this year, the film about it was released in France this June.

Another film that I would love to see is French Immersion, by the creators of Bon Cop, Bad Cop. This is a Canadian film though, so it probably won’t even be released in France.

Any other new (i.e. not yet on DVD) French-language films that I’m missing out on?

Pronunciator: Free Vocabulary & Phrases in 60 Languages

Time flies when you’re having fun! It’s been nearly two weeks since I last posted and my only excuse is that I love working on my PhD so much that I spend all my time with my books and articles instead of my computer. I’m barely keeping up with updating the site and responding to e-mails, but I did receive a very nice e-mail yesterday that I wanted to share.

My review of some language learning websites that I posted 18 months ago in which I said “I just wanted to learn some vocabulary (and how to pronounce the words) online since my main focus on learning languages in the beginning stages is to simply understand what people are saying, and to be able to say a few phrases to get around while traveling. I don’t worry so much about forming grammatically correct sentences or having long conversations just yet.” inspired Robert to create a company and website to do just that.

Pronunciator launched on September 1st and it contains basic vocabulary, verbs, phrases, and conversation in 60 languages. There are 421 units of multiple lessons and 3 million pages for you to explore, all completely free. (Not all of the content is up yet, but it’s coming.) In addition to the audio flashcards, there are listening and reading exercises plus playback and vocal recognition modes where you can compare your pronunciation to the native speaker. Check out the site and thank Robert for putting so much work into it and helping others to learn languages for free!

Multicultural and Multilingual Australia

One of the many reasons why I love Australia: an official Multicultural Policy

Multicultural and Multilingual Australia

From the government’s Multicultural Policy released in February of this year:

“Australia is a multicultural nation. In all, since 1945, seven million people have migrated to Australia. Today, one in four of Australia’s 22 million people were born overseas, 44 per cent were born overseas or have a parent who was and four million speak a language other than English. We speak over 260 languages and identify with more than 270 ancestries. Australia is and will remain a multicultural society.”

Multiculturalism in Australia produced the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), which offers television and radio programs in 68 languages. Luckily they have a free to air channel (as well as an FM channel) so I don’t have to pay extra to watch France 2 news every morning. They also have several podcasts available through iTunes (which is how I discovered them while still living in France.)

Australia is also the most multilingual of the English-speaking countries, and was the first to create a multilingual language policy. The most commonly spoken foreign languages are Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic, Mandarin and Vietnamese. Most bilinguals or multilinguals in Australia are either Aborigines or immigrants who speak English as a second language. The majority of native English speakers do not speak another language, similar to the situation in the US and UK.

Though some states and territories do require the study of a foreign language at primary/secondary level, by the final years of secondary school, only about 10% continue their studies (Years 6-8 have the highest percentage of students). The main languages studied are (followed by enrollment figures for 2006):

1. Japanese 332,943
2. Italian 322,023
3. Indonesian 209,939
4. French 207,235
5. German 126,920
6. Chinese (Mandarin) 81,358
7. Arabic 25,449
8. Spanish 20,518
9. Greek 18,584
10. Vietnamese 11,014
11. Other 45,567

The situation at the tertiary level is a bit sad. Unlike the US, no Australian university requires the study of a foreign language and many language departments have been incorporated into schools of other disciplines. For example, my particular school is called Communication, International Studies and Languages. Only 10% of first-year university students are taking a foreign language, and less than a quarter continue language studies through the third and final year of a Bachelor’s degree. Thirty-one languages are taught at universities, though 12 are taught in only one jurisdiction while 8 are taught in all states (Chinese, French, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin and Spanish).

For more information on languages in Australian schools, download the PDF of Second Languages and Australian Schooling from the Australian Council for Educational Research.

Multiculturalism Links:

Multicultural Australia (government site)

Australian Multicultural Foundation

Making Multicultural Australia

Free Two Week French Course + Accommodation in Brussels, Belgium: Giveaway from Easy Languages

Easy Languages is currently offering their first giveaway: two weeks of French courses in Brussels, Belgium, including accommodation in a residence, valued at €795.00 or approximately $1,100.00 (USD) / £700.00 (GBP). This prize does not include airfare or any ground transportation.

If you are a US or UK resident over the age of 18 who wants to learn French for free in the capital of the European Union, simply leave a comment on their Language Traveler blog post by 11:59pm EST, Monday August 29, 2011.

One winner will be chosen randomly on September 2, 2011, and announced via their Facebook and Twitter.

Good luck! Bonne chance !

Grand Place / Grote Markt

The Atomium

Manneken Pis

Take a day trip to Bruges / Brugge

View more photos of Belgium at the Gallery.

No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win giveaways. A purchase won’t improve an individual’s chance of winning. Please be sure to read eligibility and official rules.

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.

The French Language of the Pays de Savoie

The area where I live in France is called Savoy and it used to be a part of the Italian Kingdom of Sardinia. In 1860 it was annexed to France and split into two départements: Savoie and Haute-Savoie. Together they are known as the Pays de Savoie in French and they make up 2 of the 8 départements of the Rhône-Alpes region.

Chambéry is the capital of Savoie, which also includes Albertville, the site of the 1992 Winter Olympics. Annecy is the capital of Haute-Savoie, which includes Chamonix and Evian-les-Bains. I have spent nearly 5 years here even though I do not like mountains (I prefer flat land, lakes and forests – I’m from Michigan!) but I do like the close proximity to Switzerland and Italy, as well as Lyon.

I will be leaving France in less than three weeks and I realized that I had never posted about the variation of French spoken in this area. Here are a few features of the Savoie dialect of French, which shares some similarities with Swiss French. If you ever travel to/study in Savoie, you might hear:

Il faut y faire instead of Il faut le faire – y often replaces the direct object pronouns le, la, and les

ou bien is a common saying at the end of a sentence, similar to hein which is like a tag question in English, though used much more often in French

la panosse is used for mop instead of la serpillière

Since this is the French Alps, many other expressions are related to snow and cheese:

Most people already know about Tartiflette, the potato and cheese baked dish made with Reblochon. However, another cheese is very popular, Tomme, which has produced a pejorative expression for an apathetic woman: une grosse Tomme

la trafole and the adjective trafolée refer to fresh snow that already has ski tracks in it

terrainer means that the snow is melting and the ground is showing: Ça terraine.

For more vocabulary, check out the website (entirely in French) Termes régionaux de Suisse romande et de Savoie

In addition, the local minority language, which extends beyond Savoie to Neuchâtel, Mâcon and Grenoble, is called Arpitan and its official website is

Top 100 Language Lovers Blogs: Voting Starts Today at Lexiophiles

Lexiophiles’ Language Lovers 2011 competition is now open for voting. This year the four categories are:

– Language Learning Blogs

– Language Professionals Blogs

– Language Facebook Pages

– Language Twitterers

Since I won 3rd place overall last year (in the Top 100 Language Blogs) and 2nd place in the Top 100 Language Learning Blogs, my blog was automatically nominated again for this year’s competition. If you’d like to vote for me, click here and choose Jennie in France. Thank you!

Voting ends May 29th at 11:59 PM (French/German time) or 5:59 PM EST.

Sorry the blog/site hasn’t been updated much lately. I’ve been a little overwhelmed with the funeral, finishing my translation work before my upcoming annual trip, and the big move to Australia in a few months.

Thank You André and Rest in Peace

My father-in-law, André, passed away yesterday. He was a very kind man and a devoted husband, father and grandfather. A few months ago, he helped contribute to the French Listening Resources mp3s by answering a few questions on French cuisine, traveling around the world and France’s national holiday. I hope that his words, spoken with his slight Provençal accent, help French learners understand the beautiful language and culture that he was so proud of.

Mon beau-père, André, s’est éteint hier. C’était un homme très gentil et un mari, père et grand-père dévoué. Il y a quelques mois, il a contribué à French Listening Resources en répondant aux questions sur la cuisine française, le tour du monde, et la fête nationale française. J’espère que ses mots, parlés avec son léger accent provençal, aident les apprenants de français à comprendre la belle langue et la culture dont il était tellement fier.

He was diagnosed in early 2006 with stage IV lung cancer, which has a five-year survival rate of 1 to 5%. And he did survive longer than five years, which I like to think is proof of his unfailing commitment to take care of his family. During that time, his granddaughter Mélina was born and he was able to spend nearly three wonderful years with her. I met him in October 2006, shortly after my arrival in France, and even though his doctor thought that he would have passed away by then, he was full of life and happiness. That is how I will always remember him.

Au début 2006, on lui a diagnostiqué un cancer du poumon au stade IV, qui a un taux de survie de cinq ans de 1 à 5%. Et il a survécu pendant plus de cinq ans, ce qui (j’aime bien penser) est la preuve de son dévouement intarissable à sa famille. Pendant ce temps-là, sa petite-fille Mélina était née et il a pu passer trois années merveilleuses avec elle. Je l’ai connu en october 2006, peu après mon arrivée en France, et même si le médecin avait dit qu’il s’en serait déjà allé à cette époque, il était plein de vie et de bonheur. Je m’en souviendrai toujours de lui comme ça.

André with his granddaughter, Mélina, in 2008
André avec sa petite-fille, Mélina, en 2008

Thank you André for creating such a great family and letting me be a part of it. Thank you for teaching me and so many others the French language. You will never be forgotten.

Merci André d’avoir fondé une famille exceptionnelle et de m’avoir permis d’en faire partie. Merci de m’avoir appris à moi et à tant d’autres la langue française. On t’oubliera jamais.

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


Buy Now