How to Learn French…When You Already Speak It (Part 2)

Oui_je_parle_francaisA follow up to my previous post ‘How to Learn French…When You Already Speak It’ and the problem advanced French students have with progressing in French. My last post focused more on free resources and now I’m going to list a few that you may need to pay for (but personally I think they’re worth the money)

Read (and listen to) Audio Language Magazine 

When I started to feel I was an ‘advanced’ French learner, I started to think I could casually read French magazines, newspapers and watch French movies designed for native speakers. While this isn’t necessarily detrimental, it’s not necessarily the best way to improve. I started reading about ‘audio language magazines’, essentially they’re magazines that are written entirely in a foreign language, but usually come with either a bi-lingual glossary or a transcript. But their most important feature is that they come with native-speaker audio. Continue reading


Why I Quit French (at Australian universities)

why_learn_a_language_42One of the bloggers I read recently pointed out the sad news that many foreign language programs are being cut in Australian universities, as Jeannie points out it seems we are far from entering ‘the Asian century’ which the Government wanted to introduce last year. In a nutshell the Australian Government wants more children to be literate in an Asian language (specifically Chinese Mandarin, Japanese, Indonesian and Hindi), you can read my thoughts about it here.

The reasons for these cuts to foreign language classes are numerous, from the more than $2 billion funding cut to universities to lack of enrolment. Jeannie brings up some good points but I’d like to add my perspective because I may have been part of the reason for language class cuts in Australian universities.

Simply – I quit. Continue reading

French Mistake #349: When English is Wrong

mistakeA lot of people will tell you that one of the advantages of learning French for an English speaker is that we have a lot of similar words. It’s true that a lot of English words have French origin like fiancé and words we can’t be bothered finding a translation for (e.g. crepe, baguette, beret)

The problem is we often completely fuck up or change the original pronunciation.

So when I was in the Alsace region and was explaining in to my friend Pierre all the French words in English, I mentioned lingerie. If I try to explain how I said it phonetically I suppose it was something like ‘lawn: jerr: ray’ and he had no idea what I was talking about. Continue reading

French Mistake #3021: ‘Let’s Piss Off’

swearingWhen I first moved to France and started making friends with people my age, I realised I would have to start learning slang. I already knew a few slang terms and a lot of bad words (“putain” (fuck) is still my favourite French swear word) but there was still a lot I didn’t know in the beginning.

I found a few alternatives for saying ‘let’s go’ in French. I had previously learned ‘on y va’ in French classes, but came across ‘on se casse’ on the internet. ‘Se casser’ is a verb meaning to break and was apparently a slang way to say ‘let’s go,’ kind of like ‘let’s shoot off’ in English… or so I thought. Continue reading

French Music You May Like

imagesWhen you ask a French person what music they listen to, they’ll most likely rattle off a list of English-speaking artists. “Beyonce!” “AC/DC!” “Gotye!” they’ll tell you. It’s rare to hear any of them mention a French singer or band. The music that’s in ‘fashion’ for les jeunes (the young people) is English music. And most of them have no idea what the songs are about.

This used to be a really bizarre concept to me, but I’ve begun to realise that just because you don’t understand a song, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Music is much more about the actual music than the lyrics. (NOTE: Click on the titles to hear the song) Continue reading

What’s My Party Trick? You’ll Be Impressed

magic_tricks_hatSometimes I get to show off my ‘party trick.’ It usually happens with people asking what I ‘do’ and then inevitably I’ll mention I spent some time in France.

“So, do you speak French?” they’ll ask.

“Yes” I’ll say.

Then their eyes grow wide and a smile spreads across their face, “oh cool! How do you say X in French? How do you say Y? What’s a really bad word?”

Once I’ve rattled off a few sentences, they’ll look at me with glee and awe as if I’ve unscrambled a rubix cube in front of them. Continue reading

Q and A What Are Your Tips for Learning French?

I recently got an email from a girl I went to uni with. She contacted me after reading this blog and told me how she was really keen to start learning French and what resources she’d recommend to start learning, particularly online resources.
My first reaction when I hear someone say they want to start learning le francais my reaction tends to be something like this:



So anyone taking a remote interest in learning my favourite language already wins brownie points and I was more than willing to help them get started.

Continue reading