Storytime: I said I was born in 1900.

So i’ve been studying French for many many years but it has to be said.. as someone that hates maths, I still have a unique dislike for the way numbers are formed in French. I saw the picture below and had to share it because the struggle is so real. 😓

French numbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storytime:

So I spent 9 months in Quebec and the moment arrived where I had to go to the bank. It was all going soo nicely until I got asked for my date of birth. I proceeded to say the date..then the month and I am sure everyone around me started tuning into the interaction as I started saying the year and trailed off. I got as far as 1900 (which would make me a grand total of 118 – ageing super well apparently) and then my mind went totally blank and I just could not figure out where to go from there. I literally said “1995” in English, thank God the guy understood.

I thought I would share one of those classic language learning experiences.. nothing like a sweaty bank interaction but I survived! I can confirm that I can now reel off my date of birth with complete ease (having rehearsed it to ensure that never ever happens again!).

It’s all part of the fun and games of learning a foreign language. However, life is made easier by patient and understanding people like the bank cashier.

 

Have you had any awkward language interactions? Leave me a comment if so.

 

Until next time !

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Learn French – YouTube

Language learning can be quite a tiring, continuous thing and let’s be honest, nobody wants to have to spend hours and hours with their head stuck in a grammar book.

I like to use YouTube as a way to learn French, from watching more academic videos to enjoying a good vlog. For me it’s important to find entertaining ways to be educated.

Here are 4 YouTube channels that I am subscribed to:

Petite Douceur

Petite Douceur aka Laurie posts videos about food, make-up and she also shares recipes with her viewers. From time to time you’ll find a vlog style video on her page also. Definitely worth a watch if you want to become more comfortable with the Quebecois accent.

I contacted Laurie to ask her precisely how she would describe her channel and she said the following: Je dĂ©crirais ma chaĂźne comme une chaĂźne lifestyle sur le bien ĂȘtre. J’y partage mes coups de coeur du moment et des parcelles de ma vie // In English: I would describe my channel as being a lifestyle channel that focuses on well-being. I share my current favourites and parts of my daily life.

Laurie also has a blog which you can check out here.

Damon and Jo

Damon and Jo speak many languages between them, they travel all around the world and the best part about it is that they make the effort to speak in the language of the country that they are visiting. You will find videos in Italian, Portuguese, French and so on. This is the sort of channel for those of you that enjoy travel videos.  Their motto is to “Shut up and Go”, the idea is to stop making excuses, if you want to travel, learn a language.. get on with it. They are just two young people, living the travel and language dream all without breaking the bank!

For those of you who are wanting to talk/meet with other language lovers, Damon and Jo have set up a Facebook page called: Shut up and Go.

Francais Authentique

I had to include at least one “academic” based channel because although it’s great to find fun ways to learn French, sometimes you need to make sense of some of the terms you hear and this is where Francais Authentique comes in. There are soo many videos on this channel that explain in very brief but comprehensive videos, the terms and expressions that can often cause confusion.

Marie Anne

Marie Anne’s videos are always interesting, I love this channel ! Long story short, she is from France, she spent many years living and studying in Korea and now she currently lives in LA. All of her videos are in French and they vary from discussing the cost of living in LA to testing out different flavoured oreos. There are also many vlogs to choose from.

 

I hope you enjoy their videos, there are plenty more youtubers out there that can be of use throughout your language learning journey ! I picked the ones that I find the most entertaining and easy on the ear.

 

What other channels do you watch to help you with your language learning?

 

Until next time !

French Book Haul

Hello All !

Here is a list of the books I purchased whilst in Quebec. I have included the information from the back cover/blurb firstly in French and then it’s followed by an English translation. This is so that if you wish to purchase any of the books, you have a good understanding of what they are about.

 

Jaloux (Envy)- Sandra Brown

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Back cover/Blurb:

Lorsque Maris, Ă©ditrice new-yorkaise, reçoit un allĂ©chant manuscrit d’un certain P.M.E, elle comprend que le roman a le potentiel  d’un best-seller et cherche Ă  entrer en contact avec l’auteur. MenĂ©e par ses investigations jusqu’Ă  une Île perdue en GĂ©orgie, elle dĂ©couvre Parker Evans, un homme dissimulant son identitĂ© et son passĂ©, reclus dans une ancienne et inquiĂ©tante demeure coloniale. Quelque chose, dans son roman, fait froid dans le dos..

//

Maris, a New York book editor receives a manuscript submission by a writer identified only as P.M.E., that captivates her. P.M.E.’s blockbuster potential compels Maris to search for him. But Maris has just received a tantalizing partial manuscript submitted with the return address of an obscure island off the Georgia coast. On said island, Maris finds Parker Evans, a man determined to conceal his identity as well as his past. Something about this novel sends a chill down the spine..

This book has been translated from English into French (The English edition is called ‘Envy’) so you could always read it in English first or the two simultaneously or.. just the French. You have options !

 

Les Sensations Fortes (Thrills)- Nancy Huston

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Back cover/Blurb:

L’amour étant capable d’accomplir certains miracles, le jeune couple arrive sain et sauf à la cabane, la bonne cabane, au bord du bon lac, et, quand ils sortent une clef, c’est la bonne clef. EncombrĂ©s de bĂ»ches, de sacs de couchage et de couvertures, ils s’engouffrent dans la petite maison en bois (c’est-Ă -dire, soyons clairs, en planches nues), et referment vite vite la porte pour que la neige ne s’y engouffre pas à son tour.

Ils se regardent.

Ils ne voient rien.

//

Love being capable of performing certain miracles. The young couple arrive safe and sound at the cabin. The good cabin by the lake and when they take out a key, it’s the right key. Cluttered logs, sleeping bags and blankets, they dive into the little wooden house (that’s to say, let’s be clear, bare boards) and quickly close the door so that the snow doesn’t get into it too.

They look at each other.

They don’t see anything.

Les Cigales* – Antonin Marquis

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Back Cover/Blurb:

En pleine grĂšve Ă©tudiante, Dave et J-P parcourent pendant quelques jours les routes de la Nouvelle-Angleterre. Entre un feu de camp et une promenade dans le centre historique de Boston, les deux amis rĂ©alisent comme ils ont changĂ© depuis leurs annĂ©es de cĂ©gep. La blonde de J-P, Caro, est restĂ©e Ă  MontrĂ©al pour enseigner le français dans une classe de troisiĂšme secondaire. TiraillĂ©e entre le confort de sa vie de couple et sa peur « d’ĂȘtre devenue plate », elle profite de ses dix jours de solitude pour rĂ©flĂ©chir. Les cigales met en scĂšne les angoisses de la gĂ©nĂ©ration Y oĂč chacun peine Ă  assumer sa libertĂ© et vit une remise en question presque constante de ses choix, de ses aspirations, de ses relations amoureuses…

Avec ce premier roman divertissant, Antonin Marquis brosse le portrait de trois jeunes qui « se cherchent », avec en toile de fond les questions de société soulevées par le Printemps érable.

//

In the midst of student protests, Dave and J-P wander the streets of New-England for several days. Between a bonfire and a stroll through the historic center of Boston, the two friends notice that they have changed since their time at cĂ©gep. J-P’s girlfriend Caro lives in Montreal where she teaches French to a Secondary 3 class.

Torn between the comfort of life as a couple and the fear of “having become dull”, she makes the most of the 10 days she has alone to reflect. Les Cigales holds the mirror up to the anxiety of generation Y, where everyone struggles to assume their freedom and experiences an almost constant questioning of their choices, their aspirations, their romantic relationships


With this first entertaining novel, Antonin Marquis paints the portraits of three young people that are “looking for themselves”, against a backdrop of societal issues raised by the Maple Spring.

* I wasn’t completely sure of how to translate this one, les cigales literally means: grasshoppers but “ĂȘtre cigales = to be a butterfly” so.. the author is trying to get along the idea of growth/change.

La femme qui ne vieillissait pas (The woman who never aged) – GrĂ©goire Delacourt

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Back cover/Blurb:

Ce qui est arrivĂ© Ă  Betty est le rĂȘve de toutes les femmes. Et pourtant.

//

What happened to Betty is what all women dream of. And yet.

 

 

Please leave any book suggestions down below, i’m always looking for new books to add to my collection 🙂 

 

Until next time !

My French Favourites – Books + Films

Hello All ! I am going to share with you 2 of my favourite French books and 2 of my favourite French films. Feel free to leave your favourites in the comments so I can check them out.

Bleu Blanc Vert – MaĂŻssa Bey

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This novel follows the 30-year period following Algeria’s independence through the lives of two Algerians. It starts in 1962 with a girl and a boy and progresses with them as they grow up and begin their adult lives together, the story ends in 1992.

The use of these two characters allows the reader to get a male and female perspective on the same events, which I think is one of the main reasons why this book works so well.

 

Le PrĂ©nom – Matthieu Delaporte & Alexandre de la PatelliĂšre

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This is a pretty well known French Comedy play which has also been turned into a film.

“Over dinner, Vincent and his sister, Elizabeth gather with their spouses and a childhood friend; however, when Vincent, whose wife is pregnant with their first child, mentions that he has chosen a highly controversial first name for his child, all hell breaks loose.”

It’s very funny and likely to become one of those books that you reread. The script format makes this much easier to read and digest than a novel.

 

La Haine – Mathieu Kassovitz

“Mais l’important, c’est pas la chute, c’est l’atterrissage”//“What’s important is not the fall. It’s the landing”.

839033_BYSEA_laA gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural tensions in modern-day France, specifically the low-income banlieue districts on Paris’s outskirts.

A young Arab is arrested and beaten unconscious by the police which sparks riots in the notorious suburbs. Aimlessly passing their days on their home turf, the 3 main characters, Vinz, Hubert and SaĂŻd —a Jew, an African, and an Arab—give human faces to France’s immigrant populations. The film follows their simmering resentment at their marginalisation which eventually boils over. This film perfectly demonstrates and holds the mirror up to France’s identity crisis.

I love this film, truly love it. I watched it for the first time whilst in sixth form and fell straight in love with it. I then went onto doing a presentation on the film and the issues it raises, during my undergraduate studies and it shaped my speaking exam topic choices from then on. A must watch !

 

Untouchable – Olivier Nakache & Éric Toledano.

This film is based on the unlikely friendship between a quadriplegic (a person affected by paralysis of all four limbs) French aristocrat and his Arabic ex-con carer. Click here to find out more about them. When you watch the film you’ll realise how nicely the director has included the often amusing and beautiful moments that the pair shared.

untouchableIn the film, a Parisian aristocrat hires a young man to be his live-in caretaker. Although very different the two men bond and develop a close friendship. This film brings together two people from two very different walks of life, two people that you wouldn’t expect to be friends but nevertheless two people that bring joy to each other’s lives. A feel good film that’ll have you smiling, laughing and potentially crying mostly happy tears. Also, there are some great songs throughout by Earth, Wind & Fire and the wonderful pianist Ludovico Einaudi.

 

What’s your favourite French book and/or film? Let me know in the comments

 

Until next time !

Language & Identity Conference

Hello One & All !

Yesterday I went to a conference in London. It was my first time attending a conference  and so I thought I would share some thoughts on it.

Why did I go?

My reasons for going were as follows:

  • It posed as the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about Canada.
  • I wanted to learn more about the relationship between language and identity within Francophone Canada.
  • I have been thinking about whether I want to do a PhD after my MA and I thought that through listening to the findings of researchers that chose that educational path, that it would give me an insight into the extent of the research they conduct even after completing their PhD.
  • Last but not least, I wanted to practise speaking French and expose myself to dialects from other Francophone areas within Canada minus that of the GaspĂ© Peninsula which I had become comfortable with during my time in Canada.

What was it about?

There were 12 speakers (but I only heard 11) that discussed their findings on the topic of Language and Identity in Francophone Canada whilst all tackling the subject from different and interesting angles.

Here is a copy of the programme:

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What did I learn? / What did I find interesting?

Matthew Hayday (University of Guelph)
Elements of distinctiveness: The French Fact and English-speaking Canada’s identity politics since the Second World War

  • What I found quite interesting was the progression of language changes within the government and how that played out in the day to day lives of Canadians. The Official Languages Act (Loi sur les languages officielles) came into force in September 1969 which gave French and English equal status in the Canadian government. This meant that all federal institutions had to start providing services in English or French on request.

From this act being implemented, it was interesting to be presented with examples of how people tried to incorporate the two languages into children’s tv and also into songs. For example, in the late 1980’s, 3 Canadian muppets were added to Sesame Street. One of those muppets was French-Canadian Louis (pronounced Louie) the Otter, making the show bilingual.

“All Canadians should capitalize on the advantages of living in a country which has learned to speak in two great world languages” – Pierre-Elliot Trudeau.

  • What also intrigued me was the uproar that came after the Act was implemented. The word “racism” was used by Anglophones within Canada who felt that French would end up having a higher status than English, which would disadvantage them within the workforce.

From my understanding, a lot of work has been done over the years to give people a chance to take advantage of the bilingualism in Canada. An example that illustrates this is the fact that more schools offering French from an early age. Despite this, in the grand scheme of things, in Ontario for example (which is where Hayday is based), only 11.2% of the population can speak both English and French. So after 49 years, there is still work to do in order to help both sides of the community to profit from Canada’s bilingualism.

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Panel 1 – Canada overall / Le Canada dans son ensemble:
ValĂ©rie Lapointe-Gagnon (UniversitĂ© de l’Alberta) Ces anglophones qui sont montĂ©s aux barricades: la dĂ©fense de la dualitĂ© linguistique canadienne par Gwethalyn Graham, Gertrude Laing et Scott Symons, 1950-1970.

Lapointe-Gagnon spoke again on the idea of Canadian dualism and the fact that in the 60’s, the government recognised the fact that dualism exists within Canada and that they needed to “remake”/”reconstruct” a new Canadian identity that encompassed both parts.

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Rachelle Vessey (Birkbeck, University of London) French and English language
ideological debates in Canada: Evidence and examples from the media.

One of the main areas of discussion for Vessey was the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission and how they have dealt with bilingualism. It was mentioned that at one point CRBC attempted to have a bilingual radio station but then people started listening to American radio instead. Throughout this presentation, Vessey also touched on the fact that from her research, the English language tends to be used for more functional purposes in articles and seems to be slightly taken for granted. In contrast the French language articles seemed to use more “emotional” language.

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Panel 2 – Canada overall / Le Canada dans son ensemble
Jean-Pierre Corbeil (Statistique Canada) Le recensement canadien et la
construction sociale, politique et scientifique des identités francophones
au Canada.

Corbeil discussed several interesting things on the basis of the relationship between statistics, the categorisation of people that fall into the same racial (language) group and the characteristics of those groups. He also mentioned that there is this variation between how people are being defined by the state and also how they personally identify so: external categorisation VS personal identification. This is something I want to delve into more in the future so that I can truly unpick it because it seems the state has over simplified it by stating that there are Anglophones, Francophones and Allophones (people that speak another language that isn’t English or French) but it’s more complicated than that.

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Panel 3 – The West / L’Ouest
Catherine Levasseur (UniversitĂ© de MontrĂ©al) Être bien plus que francophones: expĂ©riences de mobiltĂ© et de transnationalitĂ© de jeunes en contexte minoritaire au Canada.

One of the main things Levasseur touched on was how children view themselves. She mentioned that oftentimes, their identities are based on that of their parents or their grandparents so for instance, a child with a Hungarian mother and a Canadian father may identify as Hungarian despite being born in Canada. This could be due to the weight that this part of their identity holds socially within their day to day lives.

To close, it was a very interesting conference which definitely pushed me to think more about the complex relationship between language and identity, along with the struggle to equally represent the identities of those in Canada.

Halloween Celebrations

Happy Halloween !! 

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No your eyes are not failing you, this is in fact another blog post a day after the last one, don’t get used to it !

It has to be at least a good.. 15 years since I actually did anything for Halloween and to be completely honest I kind of forgot it was approaching until my housemate mentioned that she was throwing a Halloween Party.. my first thought: uh oh.. socialising with a bunch of Francophones.

For the days that led up to the party I was dreading it.. I even tried to find an excuse to get out of it but.. in a small town the excuses don’t exactly form and present themselves at the required pace.

I am glad I didn’t manage to find a good excuse because it was actually a really enjoyable evening. I have to admit though it was super tiring having to converse in French for 6 whole hours, my brain felt absolutely fried by the end of the night and my verb conjugations slowly but surely jumped out the window, one by one as the fatigue settled in.. you know you are tired when you say something in French and whilst the other person is responding you have to question what you just said and why you said it in that order. An experience nonetheless !

Friday 27th October – 

Saturday 28th October –

The day after I was invited to go to a Halloween Parade and a Haunted House.. now anyone that knows me is aware that I am soo jumpy ! On that same morning, I was washing up and my housemate appeared behind me without making any noise and started talking, I almost died on the spot.. but yet proceeded to think it was a good idea to go to a Haunted House. Well, I never said I was logical..

The parade was really cool, I did take a few pictures, none of which came out very well because it was soo dark. The local library projected ghost figures and things that reminded me of dementors from Harry Potter on the windows. So far I was doing fine, having a nice little chitchat with the family who had invited me, about London, languages.. winter. The parade continued then ended at the Haunted House, I kid you not, I think the whole of Matane had come out that night to be frightened out of their skin. There had to have been at least 100 people waiting so we decided to head back later and in the meanwhile I popped to have a cup of tea with the family. To my surprise when we arrived at their house, 2 dogs came running towards me tails wagging and one happened to be a pug..I absolutely love pugs (just a side note, Christmas is not too far away so if anyone wants to buy me a pug, just go ahead).

Back to the Haunted House, it’s safe to say I jumped a few times. They had created a narrow corridor effect using lockers, cages and curtains and then plotted actors around the place. I honestly don’t think I will forget one of them that was dressed as a killer nun.. it’s not an easy thing to cancel out. I would say the worst part was probably this white tunnel-like part where the space just felt as though it was getting smaller and out of nowhere, peoples hands started grabbing at our legs. As someone that appreciates their personal space and is jumpy, you can imagine my reaction was amusing to those around me. Apparently I was pushing one of the people in front of me through the space.. I like to think it was just me offering my support as opposed to hurrying the process up. It’s not like I was scared or anything .. *cough*.

One last thing, I got into work today, only to be greeted by one of the students who was more than ready for Halloween:

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It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to teach an adult size baby !

 

Once again.. until next time !