Understanding Spoken French: Common Reductions in Everyday Speech

A simple video showing the differences between written and spoken French.

I’m new to making videos and Youtube, but I’ve already uploaded a few travel videos and I plan to make more spoken & informal French videos to show people that learning written French from books is not enough.

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  • Kathy

    Cool. I find that watching these things on video helps better than just simply reading it. Your videos are also nice unlike some other ones which have hard to read font and colors. I like the colors and simple text on yours (like watching a powerpoint on youtube). Keep it up and please upload more videos. c:

  • Kathy

    Cool. I find that watching these things on video helps better than just simply reading it. Your videos are also nice unlike some other ones which have hard to read font and colors. I like the colors and simple text on yours (like watching a powerpoint on youtube). Keep it up and please upload more videos. c:

  • http://twentyeighthofmay.wordpress.com/ Sally

    Fantastic — brilliant video! Keep up the good work :-)
    .-= Sally´s last blog ..Rat killing on I’m a Celeb… =-.

  • http://twentyeighthofmay.wordpress.com Sally

    Fantastic — brilliant video! Keep up the good work :-)
    .-= Sally´s last blog ..Rat killing on I’m a Celeb… =-.

  • Jamie

    I’m currently obsessed with trying to improve my spoke French/accent, so I had fun watching this and repeating everything. Thanks!

  • Jamie

    I’m currently obsessed with trying to improve my spoke French/accent, so I had fun watching this and repeating everything. Thanks!

  • http://laprochainefois.blogspot.com/ cathy

    love it! i’ve had the “je ne sais pas” reduction explained to me, but never written out to me – very helpful to see it visually. thank you :)
    .-= cathy´s last blog ..ghent =-.

  • http://laprochainefois.blogspot.com cathy

    love it! i’ve had the “je ne sais pas” reduction explained to me, but never written out to me – very helpful to see it visually. thank you :)
    .-= cathy´s last blog ..ghent =-.

  • judyb

    Jennie,

    I am loving the stuff you have shared recently. Will you come to Seattle and teach my French class for me ? ;)

  • judyb

    Jennie,

    I am loving the stuff you have shared recently. Will you come to Seattle and teach my French class for me ? ;)

  • http://blog.langalot.com/ Patrick Crosby

    Thanks, I found this video very helpful! I always left the hint of an ‘n’ when saying “je ne sais pas”, but didn’t know I could just drop it all together.

    I hope you add more videos…
    .-= Patrick Crosby´s last blog ..Fast Online Foreign Language Dictionary =-.

  • http://blog.langalot.com Patrick Crosby

    Thanks, I found this video very helpful! I always left the hint of an ‘n’ when saying “je ne sais pas”, but didn’t know I could just drop it all together.

    I hope you add more videos…
    .-= Patrick Crosby´s last blog ..Fast Online Foreign Language Dictionary =-.

  • http://www.gwannelsandiego.blogspot.com/ Gwan

    Very nice, thanks! Funnily enough I was talking to a French guy on Friday and according to him only “Americans” say ché pas, and dropping the ‘ne’ in general is an American habit! Which I don’t think is true btw… I do drop the ‘ne’ constantly, which is perhaps a bad habit, but personally I don’t say ‘ché pas’, I don’t really think my French is good/colloquial enough yet to get that casual, I don’t want to sound like a textbook robot, but equally I think you sound a little bit bizarre if you get too slangy when you don’t speak the language perfectly. Or maybe it’s just because I’m not American :D
    .-= Gwan´s last blog ..Night train to Tours =-.

  • http://www.gwannelsandiego.blogspot.com Gwan

    Very nice, thanks! Funnily enough I was talking to a French guy on Friday and according to him only “Americans” say ché pas, and dropping the ‘ne’ in general is an American habit! Which I don’t think is true btw… I do drop the ‘ne’ constantly, which is perhaps a bad habit, but personally I don’t say ‘ché pas’, I don’t really think my French is good/colloquial enough yet to get that casual, I don’t want to sound like a textbook robot, but equally I think you sound a little bit bizarre if you get too slangy when you don’t speak the language perfectly. Or maybe it’s just because I’m not American :D
    .-= Gwan´s last blog ..Night train to Tours =-.

  • http://emmygration.blogspot.com/ Emmy

    good work jennie (and D!) Keep the revolution up! People need spoken French!
    .-= Emmy´s last blog ..when the classroom does strange things to adult learners =-.

  • http://emmygration.blogspot.com Emmy

    good work jennie (and D!) Keep the revolution up! People need spoken French!
    .-= Emmy´s last blog ..when the classroom does strange things to adult learners =-.

  • http://www.soyezlabienvenuechezmoi.blogspot.com/ Dedene

    Great! I’m passing this along to a friend who teaches French in the UK. He’ll love it!
    .-= Dedene´s last blog ..Ad for Canal+ =-.

  • http://www.soyezlabienvenuechezmoi.blogspot.com Dedene

    Great! I’m passing this along to a friend who teaches French in the UK. He’ll love it!
    .-= Dedene´s last blog ..Ad for Canal+ =-.

  • Corie

    Hey Jennie,

    I was a language assistant in Marseille in 2007-2008. I just came across your site, and am sending some lesson plan ideas the assistants in Marseille came up with when I was there. I thought it might be helpful and you could incorporate them into the “Lesson Plans” portion of your site. They’re listed below. For myself and the other assistants in Marseille, there was no official curriculum and no support, so we felt really frustrated — this is a great resource for current assistants!


    High School: Get me off this Island
    You tell the students that you are going to play a role playing game. They are all on a deserted Island and there is a rescue boat coming but they can only save one of them. Each student has a card saying how old they are, their profession, family status ect. (For example: 10 yr old genius; 75 yr old Catholic Priest; 35 yr old , physicist and Mother of 2) Then as that person they have to get up in front of the class and convince the class why they should be the person saved. At the end there is a vote and one student wins. It can actually be a quite funny lesson. For example, in one class the Priest gave a lecture on how he could save everyone’s souls and that he could put in a good word with the man upstairs and ensure that everyone went to heaven.

    Elementary School: Vocabulary Words
    I put students in groups of three and gave each group a paper with vocabulary words for feelings (happy, sad, tired, etc) that they kept secret. Each group acted out their word and the other students guessed. I did the same for illnesses.
    Elementary School: Introductory Questions
    I asked students “Where do you live?” and “Where do you come from?” Students made up their answers, wich they had a fun time doing. Then I made a chart on the blackboard, with cultural icons’ names as the category headings. I had pictures of the icons students matched with the name; students guessed and put the pictures above the appropriate name. Then I made two rows across on the chart: the
    first, “Where does he live?” and the second, “Where does he come from?” students filled in the chart. Then I asked, “Who is English?” and “Who is American?”
    Elementary School: Classroom Objects and Placement
    I brought in a “paper person” named Flat Stanley, that my little cousin had drawn for me. Flat Stanley comes from a children’s book in
    the States, and in the book he travels all over the world. After going over appropriate vocabulary, one student placed Flat Stanley in a specific place around the classroom (next to the bookshelf, on the computer, etc), and chose another student, who said, “Flat Stanley is under the chair.”
    Elementary School: Clothing and/or Parts of the Body
    I would say “He has got brown hair. He has got a black T-shirt. He has got jeans.” describing someone in the class. The students would of course guess. Then they began to describe someone, making the sentences themselves. The student who gave the description would choose a student who would guess.

  • Corie

    Hey Jennie,

    I was a language assistant in Marseille in 2007-2008. I just came across your site, and am sending some lesson plan ideas the assistants in Marseille came up with when I was there. I thought it might be helpful and you could incorporate them into the “Lesson Plans” portion of your site. They’re listed below. For myself and the other assistants in Marseille, there was no official curriculum and no support, so we felt really frustrated — this is a great resource for current assistants!


    High School: Get me off this Island
    You tell the students that you are going to play a role playing game. They are all on a deserted Island and there is a rescue boat coming but they can only save one of them. Each student has a card saying how old they are, their profession, family status ect. (For example: 10 yr old genius; 75 yr old Catholic Priest; 35 yr old , physicist and Mother of 2) Then as that person they have to get up in front of the class and convince the class why they should be the person saved. At the end there is a vote and one student wins. It can actually be a quite funny lesson. For example, in one class the Priest gave a lecture on how he could save everyone’s souls and that he could put in a good word with the man upstairs and ensure that everyone went to heaven.

    Elementary School: Vocabulary Words
    I put students in groups of three and gave each group a paper with vocabulary words for feelings (happy, sad, tired, etc) that they kept secret. Each group acted out their word and the other students guessed. I did the same for illnesses.
    Elementary School: Introductory Questions
    I asked students “Where do you live?” and “Where do you come from?” Students made up their answers, wich they had a fun time doing. Then I made a chart on the blackboard, with cultural icons’ names as the category headings. I had pictures of the icons students matched with the name; students guessed and put the pictures above the appropriate name. Then I made two rows across on the chart: the
    first, “Where does he live?” and the second, “Where does he come from?” students filled in the chart. Then I asked, “Who is English?” and “Who is American?”
    Elementary School: Classroom Objects and Placement
    I brought in a “paper person” named Flat Stanley, that my little cousin had drawn for me. Flat Stanley comes from a children’s book in
    the States, and in the book he travels all over the world. After going over appropriate vocabulary, one student placed Flat Stanley in a specific place around the classroom (next to the bookshelf, on the computer, etc), and chose another student, who said, “Flat Stanley is under the chair.”
    Elementary School: Clothing and/or Parts of the Body
    I would say “He has got brown hair. He has got a black T-shirt. He has got jeans.” describing someone in the class. The students would of course guess. Then they began to describe someone, making the sentences themselves. The student who gave the description would choose a student who would guess.

  • Nadege

    Good job!

  • Nadege

    Good job!

  • Raemur

    Cool ad. I like. I always wondered about why it seemed as if they were going a bit fast. Keep it up, you’re helping alot of persons and your hard work won’t go unrewarded!

  • Raemur

    Cool ad. I like. I always wondered about why it seemed as if they were going a bit fast. Keep it up, you’re helping alot of persons and your hard work won’t go unrewarded!

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    Thanks everyone! I do plan on making many more videos. And Gwan, dropping the ne is definitely NOT just something Americans do. (That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, btw.) I hear j’sais pas more often than ché pas, but I almost never hear anyone say ne for any negative sentence.

    @Corie: Thank you for sharing your lesson plans!

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie

    Thanks everyone! I do plan on making many more videos. And Gwan, dropping the ne is definitely NOT just something Americans do. (That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, btw.) I hear j’sais pas more often than ché pas, but I almost never hear anyone say ne for any negative sentence.

    @Corie: Thank you for sharing your lesson plans!

  • http://my-english-now.blogspot.com/ Bren

    Fantastic video. Superb to hear the native voice along with the written expressions. More please!!!

  • http://my-english-now.blogspot.com/ Bren

    Fantastic video. Superb to hear the native voice along with the written expressions. More please!!!

  • http://www.sailyne.net/stuttgart Sailyne

    Great video. For the last one we can also say only “pas de chance” ou “pas d’chance” :-)

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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 January 2010, I started focusing more on teaching and learning languages in general. 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 the university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling (though now my trips are usually in Australia) and being an American abroad.

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