Category Archives: Website

Thanks for Russian, Spanish and Italian Recordings

By   April 14, 2010

I just wanted to say спасибо, gracias and grazie to the awesome people who have recorded mp3s for the Russian, Spanish and Italian tutorials recently.  We really appreciate your generosity, Marina, Renzo and Corrado! (All three are fans on the Facebook page if you would like to thank them personally.)

You can listen to the mp3s while you are on each page by using Yahoo Media Player – the play button should automatically appear – or you can right-click on the MP3 button to download to your computer. If you use Firefox, I highly recommend the DownThemAll add-on so that you can download all of the mp3s in one click.

I believe I have found someone to do the German recordings, and David will continue to provide the French audio.  If you are interested in contributing sound files of your native language, let me know!

Eavesdropping on the French [New MP3]

By   March 21, 2010

I’ve finally uploaded another French Listening mp3 and this one is a little different from the others. First of all, it is much harder to understand because I was basically eavesdropping on random conversations. It starts out with Mamie working on a crossword puzzle, then Parrain talking about winning the lottery and retiring, then Patricia asks Douné if he wants his hair cut, Parrain mentions the end of the world in 2012 according to the Mayan calendar, and then Obama shows up suddenly and the subject gets changed again to staying with a friend. Did you get that in English?? Now try it in French:

This is yet another reason why French is hard to understand. When Anglophones are sitting around a table talking, usually only one person talks at a time while everyone else listens. The opposite happens with Francophones. Several people talk at the same time so it makes it even harder for foreigners to follow along. (This isn’t a dig at Francophones, just an observation – and further support for the need to learn culture and language simultaneously.)

The previous 20 mp3s that I’ve uploaded have been representative of spontaneous, unrehearsed speech which I find much more helpful than carefully scripted and pronounced dialogs. The major difference with this mp3 is that no one knew I was recording them at the time, and so they didn’t have the chance to change their way of speaking like so many people do when they realize their words can be saved forever.  The goal is to make the listener aware of all of the false starts, fillers in speech, and especially slang vocabulary that are so hard to learn from books or even movies (movies are scripted and rehearsed, after all).

I’m trying to bring the real French language to those who want to avoid the catch-22 of language learning: you want to learn the real language before you go abroad so you won’t be totally lost and confused; however, the only way to learn the real language is to go abroad and be constantly exposed to it. I know there is no substitute for living in the country where the language is spoken and interacting with native speakers, but it’s not always an option for certain people. So thank goodness for the internet!

Updates to Come Soon, I Promise!

By   March 18, 2010

Just a short message to let you know/promise that I will update the site soon. I fully intended on adding more comparative material and French exercises and listening resources this weekend, but of course real life keeps getting in the way. I actually have some revision and translation projects to work on, as well as phonetics exams to grade, and a real deadline that I have to stick to over the next few weeks. But the review of language learning communities and a new informal French video are coming soonish.  I only work 8 days at my real job during the month of April, so I should be able to get a lot accomplished then.

I have finally created a Facebook Fan page for ielanguages, so please join if you want to keep in touch on there. You may have also noticed the new Wibiya bar at the bottom of the blog, which allows you to see what’s happening immediately on my Twitter account as well as the Facebook Fan page. Plus you can quickly see what photos I’ve uploaded to Flickr and what videos I’ve uploaded to Youtube, choose to go to a random post on the blog, or translate the page into a different language. I especially like the Online feature as you can see who is online and where in the world they are. The power of the internet to bring people together when they are so far apart geographically will never cease to amaze me.

As am I going on 4 different trips this May & June, I’ve decided to expand the Travel Photos section of the site and add more useful information on traveling in general. I like sharing my photos and helping people realize that traveling, especially in Europe, is actually quite cheap and easy to do. And of course the whole point of traveling (at least for me) is to discover how a new language is used in everyday life and hopefully become a better citizen of the world by experiencing a new culture. So of course, I also want to add to the realia page by taking pictures of signs, menus, tickets, brochures, etc. for authentic exposure to the language instead of relying on instructional books that tend to only teach generic words that are not used often enough.

French desserts

In France, un cake isn’t really a cake – at least not in the American sense of the word.

March = Spring = Sun = Motivation

By   March 2, 2010

I was pleasantly surprised by the weather yesterday. Now that March is here, it seems like spring is too. It was sunny and not raining for once, so I got to walk to work. I hope it stays this way and winter doesn’t come back because the sunshine gives me motivation to actually get things done. Plus I have less than 7 weeks of my job left, and then I go on a lot of fun trips this summer (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Croatia, and Italy!)

Glorious sun

I am continuing with reviewing the online language communities, though I have to admit I’m only focusing on 4 or 5 since the rest did not have much free content or they were simply sites for finding language teachers. I’m most interested in ways to learn vocabulary and pronunciation online for free, without necessarily needing a teacher or having to pay for anything.

And I am still working on a new informal French video, though I can’t decide if I should focus on more reductions in speech or informal vocabulary missing from textbooks. Perhaps I’ll just do both!  The first video has been up for about 2 weeks and it already has over 1,300 views, so I hope I’m helping all of those people to understand spoken French.

The French Listening podcast now has 20 mp3s available, and I think I’m going to take a little break before I figure out what to do next. I’ve got lots of audio to transcribe for the next round – interview with David’s grandma about her family moving from Italy to France in 1931 to escape fascism and what Annecy was like during the war plus random conversations that are basically eavesdropping. I wanted to record natural speech without anyone knowing that I was in fact recording because people change the way they speak (they tend to use less slang and talk slower) when they know they’re being recorded. I tell them afterwards that I was recording, of course!

Lastly, I’ve decided to focus more on the multilingual aspect of the site and attempt to update the vocabulary lists as well as the comparative tutorials. I’m looking for a way to allow people to choose which languages they want to compare instead of keeping with the English-French-Italian-Spanish order that is currently available. Any coders/tech people know how to do this? Javascript maybe?  So for example, if someone wanted to compare just English-French-German, they would just need to choose those languages and the page would automatically generate with only those lists.

Thanks to those who bought my French Language Tutorial book or sent a donation. I really appreciate your support!

I Love Multilingual Lists of Vocabulary and Verbs

By   February 18, 2010

For those who also love multilingual vocabulary lists or verb conjugations, I’ve updated the Romance and Germanic lists so they fit better on the screen. The Romance languages include French, Italian, Spanish and some Portuguese for the vocabulary part and only French, Italian and Spanish for the verbs. Germanic includes German, Dutch, Swedish,  and some Danish and Afrikaans for the vocabulary sections, and German, Dutch and Swedish for the verb conjugations. Here are the index pages with links to each individual page:

Romance Languages Vocabulary

Romance Languages Verbs

Germanic Languages Vocabulary

Germanic Languages Verbs


Multilingual Lists of Vocabulary and Verbs


Other multilingual sites:

Book2 is my favorite as it provides 100 audio lessons on basic phrases and vocabulary for A1 & A2 level in 40 languages. You choose which two languages to learn or compare, so it is not only English-based.

The MediaGlyphs Project Vocabulary List Generator allows you to select 2-3 languages and a theme for vocabulary to display the lists.  It is updated by volunteers and some languages have much more content than others, but many languages are available. allows you to search for a term or phrase in bilingual texts (French – English, English – French, English – German, English – Spanish or English – Portuguese) that have been translated by professionals. Many of them are official European Union texts.  It is essentially an easier way to search the internet for a specific word, and it turns the texts into a comparative corpus. Linguistics nerd will love it!

Poliglottus offers basic vocabulary of 1,300 words in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian and basic verb forms in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Sardinian – though only two languages can be compared at once and the lists are not labeled (no themes for vocabulary and no tenses for verbs).

Romanica Intercom is a site for comparing and learning the grammar of the main Romance languages (Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Italian and French), though it is a bit hard to navigate and the interface is only available in Catalan or Spanish.

Gilles’ Langues site in French, English, Italian, Spanish and German is very helpful too. He includes some memory games to play as well as PDF and EPUB versions of his vocabulary lists PLUS lots of mp3s of the words.

Internet Polyglot offers lots of language combinations to study lists of vocabulary, many with pronunciation and games.

BePolyglot was a pay language portal about the 5 main Romance languages. Below is an example of one of their free pages. [Unfortunately this website no longer exists, but you can view the free pages using the Internet Archive.]

Multilingual, but more work for you: Theses sites offer plenty of languages, but they are not compared side-by-side like with the sites above. You have to do a little more work to see both languages in action (two browser windows open if you have a widescreen monitor or using one language that you are advanced enough in to learn a second, for example).

LanguageGuide is a pictorial audio vocabulary site. All of the languages use the same format and pictures.

Euronews has video clips of the news in several languages (with transcripts, though not word for word sometimes). Euranet and Presseurop are similar sites, though Euranet has fewer transcripts and Presseurop doesn’t seem to have any audio. Radio Praga is another site for articles with audio.

LingQ uses the same beginner stories in each language offered (the lessons Who is She?, Greetings, Eating Out, etc.) so you could download the mp3s and text for each language you wanted to compare and make your own side-by-side comparison.

Deutsche Welle’s podcasts are available in 30 languages, so you could use your strongest language to help you learn German.

Lastly, if you’re interested in the 23 EU languages, the official site has a recording of the same text in every language so you can see and hear the differences (or similarities) among them.

Updated September 2012

Vacation is for Working

By   February 16, 2010

I’ve been on vacation from the university since Thursday afternoon, but I’m not going anywhere or doing anything special. I’ve actually just been working at my computer everyday. Last night I managed to finish preparing all of my lessons for the rest of the semester (8 weeks left) and wrote a midterm exam. All that is left to do is grade the 50 or so recordings my students did last week. The other big plans for this week are to wash my car and cut my hair. My life is so exciting during the semester!  I should be trying to look for a new job for October, but I really do not want to continue teaching English (unless it’s the same lectrice position, which is highly unlikely) because I’m tired of only thinking and working in English all day. By the time I’m finished with grading/preparing/giving classes in English, I am too tired to focus on other languages.

Working at the computer all day

I know I should be practical about working as an English teacher, because really, what other job in France can I get since I’m a non-native speaker of French and I have no degrees earned from a French university? It’s just depressing to think about never becoming a French teacher and never getting to do what I really want to do in life. And no matter what the next job is that I can find in France, I will be doing twice as much work for half as much pay. Ah, the joys of living in the land of low salaries.

Actually I have been doing other things than just working in English – yesterday I spent hours upon hours collecting the paperwork needed to renew my residency card. I am, of course, missing some of it since I have to wait for one document from Paris, and we need to find a day when David can come with me to the préfecture because he has to sign a document there. I never actually received my new card from June when we moved to Chambéry, and now I’m afraid French bureaucracy will continue to screw me over, which means I will be illegal in France & the EU as of May 7 and the university won’t give me my salary. I can’t wait to start the citizenship process at the end of this year. Knowing that the préfecture could refuse my residency card at any moment because I’ m “only” PACSed and not married to a French citizen has been a nightmare for the past 3.5 years.

Moving on… All I really want to do is study languages and travel and help others learn languages too.  My website lets me do that, but I don’t make nearly enough money to survive with it alone, especially since it’s mostly in dollars. I am trying to finally market it more and I’ve joined a few more social networking sites (look in the right sidebar) to get my site out there. I have pretty decent traffic already since my site has been around for over 10 years (thank goodness I was geeky in high school) but I don’t have any products to sell, which is how bloggers & webmasters make real money. I’m really torn on the idea of selling things though because I don’t think education and business should mix. My site has always been free because I don’t want to deny anyone an education just because they don’t have money.

On the other hand, I am facing unemployment once again and I would love to work on my website full-time. If I didn’t have to work in English everyday, I could accomplish and create so much more. I’ve been thinking about giving French lessons online through language communities and selling e-books & paperback books of my tutorials and other materials I’ve been working on for a long time.  Plus the fact that so many people have been stealing my tutorials and selling them as their own for the past 5 years has really gotten to me. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s free for the taking and you can make money off of it!  It’s impossible to keep up with all of the pirates on Ebay and Tradebit and report them all. If anyone is going to make a profit off of my hard work, it should be me, right?

Anyway, I should probably stop complaining and get back to work. The weather is getting better (high of 10° C / 50° F this week!) and I have plenty of cheap trips coming up in May & June to look forward to, plus I get to see friends from back home. Living in France may be frustrating to me sometimes, but living in Europe is still pretty nice.

French Listening Resources: Weekly Updates to Podcast

By   February 12, 2010

I’ve just uploaded the latest mp3 to the French Listening Resources podcast, so it will be available for download soon through iTunes or immediately through the site. I’m going to try to update every weekend and also provide the transcript right away (in text format and as a new page so you can listen and read at the same time). Currently most of the mp3s have transcripts available, but I’m still working on a few of them. And eventually I will add the translation into English and some notes on the vocabulary.  Any thoughts on what would be helpful for getting the most out of these listening resources? Interactive exercises? Explanations of vocabulary choice or grammar usage? Any requests on topics?

French Listening Resources Podcast Logo

Let me sleep! And study languages! And work on my site! (I hate insomnia.)

By   February 2, 2010

Thanks to my insomnia and headaches, I haven’t been able to work much on my website or study languages. I basically get up, feel like a zombie, go to work, come home and still feel like a zombie and then try to sleep, unsuccessfully. Monday through Thursday. Luckily I have 3 day weekends, but that doesn’t mean I can actually sleep then either.  I have about a bazillion and one things on my to do list, but I can’t do many of them because I am just too tired. Working on my website and studying languages is what I love most, and yet I can barely sit at the computer because I need to lie down and I definitely don’t want to listen to audio in German or Italian when I have a never-ending headache.

I wanted to finish typing the French Listening Resources transcripts & import them to LingQ, create French-German and French-Italian flashcards, record more mp3s in French (especially for the slang vocabulary), create audio flashcards for Spanish, finish the IPA transcriptions for French, and and and… everything! I’ve managed to update Twitter and join a few more sites like StumbleUpon, FriendFeed, Youtube – though I have yet to make any language videos of my own, another thing to add to the list! Social networking is exhausting. But that’s the best way to get my site out there and let people know that there are free resources for learning informal French as well as two languages at once. I really wish I could spend all day helping others learn languages, but it doesn’t exactly pay the bills in France.

Maybe when my current job is over in April, I will succeed in crossing everything off my list. Until then I can only attempt small updates here and there. Tonight I was able to add a few more words to the Informal French & Slang page and a few days ago I created individual pages for the Listening Resources, but that’s about it. Now I’m going to attempt to sleep. Wish me luck.

RSS Times Three: Automatic Updates

By   January 24, 2010

I now have three RSS feeds for my site (well, four if you count my Twitter). Most of you are probably reading this through my blog feed, but I also have a feed for website updates and I just created a new feed for the mp3s that I upload to the French Listening Resources page.

So for the RSS junkies, here are all the feeds:

Jennie en France Blog

Updates to

French Listening mp3s OR you can subscribe directly through iTunes by clicking here

Isn’t technology great?

Refocus on French & Languages

By   January 20, 2010

I’ve decided it is grand temps that I get organized and focused on learning languages again. I feel as though I’ve been too distracted and/or lazy lately. I haven’t finished nearly as much as I would have liked on my site and I certainly haven’t been studying the way I used to. So to begin, I’m going to refocus my blog topics and attempt to mostly stick to teaching & learning languages, especially French. Foreign languages is one of the few things I’m very passionate about and I love knowing that I can help others learn through the internet.  And since I can’t exactly teach French in France, I’m going to try my best to do it online and spread the love of Francophonie to everyone.

I will still post about Chambéry and the Alps from time to time, but if you’d like to see beautiful photos and videos from this area, then I suggest you head over to Cynthia’s blog at  I’m sure I’ll still find some aspects of French culture that boggle my mind, and of course I will keep everyone informed of my love affair with the préfecture and our rocky carte de séjour relationship. (Still no news after 7 months…) But most of my energy is going into helping people learn  languages, and HOW to learn them.

As for my website, I am continuing with the IPA for the French tutorials and uploading more listening resources (exercises to come… someday). I would also like to finish the comparative tutorials because there is a serious lack of multilingual learning material on the internet for those of us learning several languages at once.  Being bilingual will never be good enough for me!