Bescherelle… Le Jeu? Only in France!

This is how hard French conjugation is – you can make a game out of it!

Introducing… Bescherelle, le jeu!

From the back:

Dites-vous un ou une anagramme ? Un ou une astérisque ? Savez-vous conjuguer tous les verbes ? Le pluriel d’un ail ? D’un corail ?… Testez vos connaissances sur la langue française avec les enfants tout en vous amusant ! 

Translation: Do you say un (masculine) or une (feminine) anagramme? Un or une asterisque? Do you know how to conjugate all the verbs? What’s the plural of garlic? Or of coral? Test your knowledge of the French language with the children all having fun together!

Wait – are you telling me that even French people don’t know this shit? That a French child might not know if an asterisque is masculine or feminine? Or how to conjugate a verb? Then how’s a foreigner ever supposed to learn? 😦

Two of the greatest challenges I find with the French language are

  • Remembering if a word is the masculine ‘le’ or feminine ‘la’
  • Verb conjugation
My own mother tongue does not have a lot of conjugation making French conjugation particularly difficult for my English-speaking brain. The majority of English speakers likely don’t even know what conjugation means.
I remember completing my French homework at the kitchen table when I was in high school and I mentioned the word ‘conjugate’ to my Dad. He furrowed his brow and asked ‘what does conjugate mean?’
There is such a lack of conjugation in English that not only do we not know what it means, but we never have to think how to put a verb into a tense and rarely how to spell it.
I felt slightly encouraged and discouraged at the same time, when I found out that French conjugation is hard for French people. There are many French people even in their adult years who need to look up a verb to make sure they have conjugated it correctly, and as one of my students told me, every French student has a ‘Bescherelle’.
A Bescherelle is a French grammar guide, and up until living in France I thought it was only for foreigners who were learning French.

Are you for Francophones or Francophiles Monsieur Bescherelle?

But even French native-speakers need their own Bescherelle to write their own language properly. I feel I can compare it to my needing a dictionary to spell words like ‘bureaucracy’ and ‘among’ in English, despite having a degree in English journalism and always being ‘good’ at English at school – I still make mistakes in it.

Conclusions:

  • French conjugation is hard, more when you want to write the language than speak it
  • There is no shame in needing to check a conjugation (if a French person needs to do it, then I will need to do it at some point too)
  • I cannot stop revising my conjugation rules… EVER!
And to answer ‘Bescherelle… le jeu!’s’ questions I’m going to guess it is UNE asterisque and UN anagramme, I have no idea what the plural of un ail is – ails? And as for the plural of coral – would that be corails? And do I know how to conjugate all verbs? Hell no!
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6 thoughts on “Bescherelle… Le Jeu? Only in France!

  1. Got that game! It’s great.
    I’m not sure whether I bought it amazon.fr or .com but I had it shipped all the way to Melbourne.
    In the end, French grammar is very confusing, even for us so as long as you can communicate, who cares if you make a few mistakes? My father likes pointing out when I make one; he still remembers a mistake I made when I was about 10 but he’s a grammar snob. Not everybody is like him 😉 (and his English is far from being great$

    • Hm… Maybe I will have to try buying it online and ship it to Melbourne! It’s always a work in progress, I know I can communicate in French very well but I can be hard on myself especially for making mistakes with verb conjugation and gender or any mistake for that matter… I’m a bit of perfectionist, but that’s a Virgo trait 😉 By the way, your English reads like a native speaker in your comments – Felicitations ! 🙂

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