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Joyeux Poisson D’Avril!

Poisson d'avril

On April Fools’ Day in France children make and decorate paper fish and then tape them to people’s backs.  When their “victim” finds the paper fish on his/her back the person who put it there calls out “Poisson d’Avril” (“April Fish”).

If you want to play this joke on unsuspecting friends and family members but don’t have time to make your own fish here is a link for some you can print out:  http://jlongok.com/printable-fish-pictures/

I have inserted a video below that explains (in French) the origin of the holiday.

 

Montpellier et Accent Français (École de Langue) Par Ma Brillante Étudiante Joanne

Joanne
Joanne in medieval ruins in Montpelier

Vous cherchez une excellente expérience d’apprentissage de français en France? Vous devez considérer Montpellier.  Bien que j’avais été en France plusieurs fois auparavant, c’était  ma première expérience à une école pour la langue française.  Après beaucoup de recherche, j’ai choisi Accent Français parce qu’il correspondait à mes critères : une bonne expérience pour améliorer mon français,  l’opportunité  d’explorer des sites culturels et historiques et un endroit, préférablement dans le sud-ouest, où j’ai pu découvrir une nouvelle partie de la France. Enfin, je ne voulais pas que ce soit un boulot pénible. Donc, en Septembre 2014, je suis devenue étudiante à Accent Français à Montpellier dans le sud de France, seulement  121 km de Marseille.

 

Montpellier

Students with Jean-Pierre from Accent Francais
Place de la Comédie in Montpellier

Montpellier, située à 6 km de la Méditerranée,  est une très belle ville d’environ 250,000 personnes avec une grande population d’étudiants.  La ville est un mélange dynamique d’ancien et de nouveau. Le centre ville, qui est réservée aux piétons,  est vraiment charmant et vieux,  avec des rues pavées et de jolies cours.  D’autre part, Montpellier avait attiré beaucoup d’architectes avant-gardes qui ont crée de beaux bâtiments avec plein d’innovation.  En plus, la ville a un super système de tramways pour le rendre facile à traverser.  Tous les vendredis soirs de l’été, il y a  « Les Estivales »  sur l’Esplanade Charles de Gaulle avec de la musique, de la danse, beaucoup de spécialités alimentaires de Languedoc-Roussillon comme le canard, l’andouille, la paella, la tartiflette,  des fromage locaux  comme le Roquefort et des vins et aussi des produits mis en vente comme le sel du Camargue,  des bijoux, etc.  La ville de Montpellier : C’est magnifique et les gens sont très conviviaux.

 

Accent Français

Accent Francais signLa structure de l’enseignement à Accent Français est assez typique – de la grammaire, de l’écriture et de la conversation.  Le premier jour, le personnel administre un test de placement écrit et oral.  Mon cours a eu lieu cinq jours par semaine de 9h à 13h avec six autres étudiants internationaux.    Il y avait deux enseignants chaque jour – chacun enseignant pendant deux heures. Les professeurs sont très créatifs. Par exemple, un jour, nous avons créé un sondage et puis, nous avons fait l’enquête avec des personnes dans la Place de la Comédie. C’était effrayant mais  amusant à la fois. On peut rester à l’école  pour une semaine ou plusieurs mois.  Ils peuvent organiser un hébergement si vous voulez.

 

L’École de Cuisine d’Armand
L’École de Cuisine d’Armand

Il y avait des activités optionnelles supplémentaires pendant l’après midi et le soir telles que des films avec discussion, des visites guidées de certains endroits, comme l’intérieur de La Cathédrale de Saint Pierre, qui ressemble à un château de Disney.  Un soir, j’ai suivi un cours de cuisine à L’Ecole de Cuisine d’Armand dans le restaurant  « Le Jardin des Pates ».  Au hasard, il y avait cinq étudiants – quatre diplômés des écoles de Cordon Bleu aux États-Unis et moi, qui pouvais à peine faire cuire du pain perdu.  Oh la la !  Les étudiants avaient été placés dans des restaurants en France avec trois ou plus étoiles et ils avaient besoin d’apprendre rapidement un peu de français avant leurs stages, particulièrement les termes culinaires. Malgré mes doutes,  l’expérience était formidable pour apprendre français et incroyablement, ma tarte au citron et ma tarte aux poires à la Bourdaloue étaient délicieuse mais un peu mal décorées par rapport à celles du chef pâtissier.   Étonnant,  j’étais capable de traduire certains mots entre le chef et les étudiants.

 

Place de la Comedie in Montpelier
Photo of students with Jean-Paul from Accent Francais

Une des  meilleures choses de l’école était Jean-Paul, un guide employé par l’école pour animer des excursions pendant le week-end et quelquefois pendant le soir.  Jean-Paul est un polyglotte qui est outrageusement drôle.  Son héritage est occitan et il grandissait en parlant  l’ancienne langue du sud du France.   J’ai  trouvé qu’un voyage à Nîmes avec Jean Paul et un group de dix personnes était une bonne façon d’améliorer mon français et de m’amuser en même temps. On ne parle pas l’anglais et pour moi le cadre décontracté était le meilleur environnement pour essayer ma langue française. Le voyage à Nîmes était un grand moment de mon voyage parce qu’il y avait un bon group de personnes de partout dans le monde. Ces gens devenaient mes amis de vacances pour déjeuner ou dîner, et pour explorer la région.  Parce que le français était la langue commune, on devait pratiquer le français.  Je garde le contact avec plusieurs d’entre eux.

Préparation pour mon séjour en France

Alliance francaiseJ’avais étudie le français pendant plusieurs années à  Washington DC.  Mais un an avant mon séjour un France, j’ai décidé que j’avais besoin d’une stratégie plus personnelle. C’est alors que j’ai contacté Melissa Kerley.   Nous travaillons  la lecture, l’écriture, la communication et la discussion orale. J’ai lu presque 20 livres en français pendant 17 mois et j’ai écrit beaucoup de compositions.  Melissa me donne ses réactions. Ce qui m’a donne surpris le plus était que je l’apprécie énormément soit en français ou en anglais. Je ai toujours hâte de mes rencontres avec Melissa et mon évolution est sur une bonne voie.

 

Dr. Melissa Kerley
Dr. Melissa Kerley

Ne laissez pas le fait qu’elle est un érudit de la poésie français médiévale vous intimider, Melissa a les pieds sur terre.  Elle est flexible, vivante, et sympa.  Elle continue à bien adapter le cours à mes caprices.   Elle possède une excellente connaissance de la langue, la littérature, la philosophe et l’histoire de la France.  Depuis  que j’ai commencé à étudier avec Melissa, j’ai beaucoup appris et j’ai réussi à gagner plus de confiance en moi-même.    Grâce à Melissa, mes vacances en France étaient plus agréables. Je étais capable de simplement plonger dans la belle langue de français – les fautes et tout.  Vous cherchez une excellente expérience d’apprentissage dans le français à Washington DC ou en Virginie du Nord? Vous devrez considérer Melissa Kerley !

 

Notre Dame in Lyon
Notre Dame de Fourvière on the hill above Lyon
Paris Gargoyle Joanne's Husband Doug's Photo
Gargoyle view of  Paris from Notre Dame de Paris. (photo by Joanne’s husband)

Après avoir quitté Montpellier, je suis allée à Lyon et à Paris pour utiliser mes nouvelles compétences.  Bien que j’aie encore un long chemin à parcourir avant que je sois à l’aise en français, j’adore le voyage.  Et si je dois revenir à Montpellier pour y arriver, ainsi soit-il.

 

 

My Stellar Student Rick’s Summer 2014 Trip To Montreal

Rick and RosieThe time had come for a new bike.  This one would be custom made, hand built and equipped exactly the way I want it. An extensive internet search for a builder lead me to Chris Bishop in Baltimore Maryland. Chris has won numerous awards for his bikes. He is regarded as one of the best young builders in the country in addition Chris is a certified bike fitter. To top it all off he is in Baltimore, an easy bike ride from my home in Washington DC.

An exchange of emails confirmed I had chosen the right builder. Chris has a “Yes I can” attitude, it would be my bike form the ground up not an adaptation of a standard design.  Now the long wait 11 months as good builder is busy.

Finally it was time to bike to Baltimore for the fit season. After a tour of his shop Chris measured my old bike by the millimeter. He measured the length of the wheelbase, height of the pedals, the relationship of the seat to the handlebars and more. The old bike fit well, Chris’s goal was to make a better bike. Next I was measured including the length of my arms and legs. Next step and a very important part of the process was to create a mockup of the new bike on a “fit cycle” which is a stationary bike that  can be adjusted to emulate the new frame design.  I pedaled the fit cycle while Chris observed making notes. He then measured the angle of my knees and arms as well as my back to confirm the trial dimensions where correct. My old bike was put on a stand and I again pedaled while the builder observed and took more notes.  After all the measurements and trial pedaling the most important question;” how do I want the bike to feel?”  I like to cover about 60 to 65 miles in a day.  I would like it to be comfortable I also want good power transmission (-not too soft-). Chris said “I got it, leave the rest to me.”  In few days later he sent CAD drawings of the new frame for my approval.  The bike would be ready for paint in just a little more than two weeks. Again to wait, this time for the painter(good painters are busy), a comparatively short 5 weeks.

After more than a year came the e-mail: The bike was complete with all components installed and ready to ride.  When I pick up the bike in Baltimore it was first week in January the temp was about 30°f a bit too cold for a test ride.  Fortunately there was a nice brake in the weather within a couple of weeks that gave me the opportunity to give the marvelous looking machine a test ride. As expected it rides as beautifully as it looks. The setup was nearly prefect, just lowered the seat a bit and off I went looking for a fast downhill run. A fast downhill run will spotlight any flaw in the frames deign or build. At just over 30mph the bike was straight and smooth as expected.

 

Montreal & Le Cantons

The trip had two distinct parts. A week of biking in the charming Eastern Cantons of Quebec, then return to Montreal for a week of Montreal Complètement Cirque (International Cirques Arts Festival)   http://montrealcompletementcirque.com/  as well as  general site seeing. As a bonus I had the good fortune to be in Montreal for one of the fireworks displays of the International d’art Pyrotechnique de Montréal.

The train trip to Montreal from Washington DC requires a change of the trains in New York City.  The trip form New York to Montreal is rated as one of the most scenic train trips in the US. After leaving New York City the Adirondack route follows the Hudson River then to the shores of Lake Champlain.  The lovely scenery helps make the 10 hour trip more interesting. Once In Montreal I headed to the “Plateau de Montréal”. I rented a very nice small apartment that was my “base camp “for the entire stay in Quebec. Le Plateau is a most agreeable somewhat trendy neighborhood with a great variety of restaurants and shops. A small but well stocked supermarket was an easy stroll form the apartment and there was always a patisserie nearby.   Two Metro Stations where by close as well.

My bike arrived two days later by FedEx which gave me time to get acquainted with the neighborhood. Once the bike was reassembled and  the panniers where packed it was finally  time to begin the two day trip to the resort town of Magog  about 180km due east of Montreal. The first day’s ride began by crossing the Pont Jacque Cartier (Montreal is an Island) though the suburb of Longueil, finely to the open nearly flat farm land dotted with small towns of the Belle Provence.  The first stop was Grandy for an easy 50 mile day. The B & B on the eastern edge of Grandy was outstanding; it felt a like stay at grandma’s house. The curtains were burnt-out lace, the tissue box had a lace trim covers and off course a four poster bed.  The hostess, Carole, was perfectly cast for the part. http://www.unefleur.ca/ .   A hardy breakfast featuring homemade muffins topped with jams made from local ingredients was the ideal start to the day.  Une Fleur au Bord de L’Eau    is just yards from the Velo Route Verte #1 which winds along an old rail line to Waterloo about 22km (14mls). This section of the Route Verte #1 http://www.routeverte.com/rv/home   is absolutely the best biking is ever.  http://www.estriade.net/ . After leaving Waterloo I followed route 112 winding past Mt. Orford into the resort town of Magog.

Magog almost looks like a movie set. Rue Principle is lined with restaurants and upscale shops. There are more than 90 restaurants for a town of 25,000.  The B & B in Magog was totally wonderful. http://www.ausautdulit.ca/ .   A truly warm and friendly welcome accented with bright colors. The first day in Magog was spent just getting settled. After an absolutely picture perfect breakfast (hand to run up to  get the camera) the rest of the day was devoted to exploring the town. Vacations can be filled with difficult decisions such as which was the best Gelato shop.  Each day after breakfast I would head out of town in a different direction for leisurely ride of 20 to 30 miles. The scenery was lush green rolling hills overlooking Lake Memphremagog.   Choosing a restaurant for dinner was again a difficult decision as there so many choices.

On the return trip to Montréal I followed the same route, again stopped in Grandy at Une fleur au bord de l’eau.  On the final day of the road trip the weather looked threating. It was only 50 miles back to Montréal so kept a steady pace with few stops, I covered the distance in 3 ½ hours(not bad at 72 years old).

Montréal  Completement Cirque: http://montrealcompletementcirque.com/

 

La deuxième partie :: Now for a  week of the finest circus performances one can ever hope to see. Each performance was in a different venue. The range was form the large in the round theater of TOHO (Cité des arts du cirque,) to a small converted factory as well as performances in parks. Venues where in diverse locations thought out the city which offered the opportunity to explore some of Montréal’s many interesting neighborhoods. Performances ranged from large scale productions including multimedia productions to a captivating one woman show.

A wonderful bonus was the opportunity to see one of the entries  in the International Fireworks Competition  http://internationaldesfeuxloto-quebec.com/en/    The Jacque Cartier Bridge is closed to traffic to allow a marvelous view of fireworks the below. Thousands lined the bridge to watch a world class fireworks presentation.

Quebec may be officially bi-lingual but English is a distant second. True their French heritage food is always good in Quebec. From a sandwich shop in a small town to elegant restaurants you will always be pleased.

Next is Quebec City.

A Celebr “-ATION” of French Nouns

Today’s French concept is quite useful and one of my personal favorites. Now, I don’t advocate for being lazy when it comes to learning a language but I do appreciate a good shortcut to make things easier. Let’s explore how most English “-ATION” nouns convert to French easily (with some minor accent and spelling changes). But that’s not all, folks, because all French “-ATION” nouns are feminine so you don’t have to worry about gender.  Formidable!

KEEPING IT SIMPLE

  • Most English words ending in “-ATION” convert to French with minimal or no changes in spelling
  • All French nouns ending in “-ATION” are feminine
  • Removing the suffix and replacing it with “-É” gives us the verb in passé composé for most nouns

GETTING STARTED

Remember, although most of these English nouns transition without any changes, some words may need accents and/or letter changes here-and-there.

I’ve provided an example list of French nouns below – let me know if I’ve made any errors and I’m happy to fix them! Following the steps above, read through the list and you’ll notice how the root for the passé composé exists in each word.

Table1

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

An exercise to drill this concept into notre cerveau? Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle:

  • In the 2nd column, write all the French nouns listed above
  • In the 1st column, look at the corresponding noun, replace the suffix and write a simple passé composé phrase:

COLUMN 1                         COLUMN 2

j’ai accusé                              l’accusation
tu as communiqué              la communication
il a créé                                  la création

Don’t forget accents and be mindful of spelling (e.g. the “c” in the communication becomes a “q” in the passé composé)! The point of this exercise is to train ourselves to seamlessly replace the suffix with “-É” for passé composé. By the end of the list, we should see a noticeable difference in how long it takes to convert.

SO THERE WE HAVE IT

  • Most English words ending in “-ATION” convert to French with minimal or no changes in spelling
  • All French words ending in “-ATION” are feminine
  • Removing the suffix and replacing it with “-É” gives us the verb in passé composé for most nouns

Feel free to look up more English-French words that follow the same sense as the above and the gods of French nouns and passé composé will thank you.

As always, let me know if you have any comments/corrections/feedback below!

M. Matt

English “-OR” to French “-EUR”

Bonjour! In an earlier post, we talked about English “-IST” words and how most of them can onvert into French “-ISTE” words. We also learned that most of those converted words are masculine. Today, we’re going to follow a similar concept by examining how most English words ending with “-OR” will convert into French words that end with “-EUR”. We’ll take a quick look at words that involve people and those that don’t.

Now, there are feminine versions for some of the French words below (e.g. the vendor = la vendeuse). However, we won’t get into that for today. For now, let’s just say that most English words that make this French conversion are masculine. We’ll revisit gender soon enough! For now, let’s keep things as uncomplicated as possible.

WORDS INVOLVING PEOPLE

Below are examples of “-OR” peeps who become “-EUR” peeps:

  • the senator = le sénateur
  • the doctor = le docteur
  • the director = le directeurDoctor
  • the author = l’auteur
  • the conductor = le conducteur
  • the educator = l’éducateur
  • the vendor = le vendeur
  • the decorator = le décorateur
  • the governor = le gouverneur
  • the narrator = le narrateur

And don’t forget the English words you already know:

  • the amateur = l’amateur
  • the chauffeur = le chauffeur
  • the connoisseur = le connaisseur
  • the entrepreneur = l’entrepreneur
  • the masseur = le masseur
  • the provocateur = le provocateur
  • the saboteur = le saboteur
  • the voyeur = le voyeur (scandale!)

WORDS NOT INVOLVING PEOPLE

For words that don’t involve people, most of them are feminine and I’ve included some examples below:

  • the color = la couleurRumors
  • the horror = l’horreur
  • the honor = l’honneur
  • the rumor = la rumeur
  • the interior = l’intérieur
  • the exterior = l’extérieur
  • the favor = la faveur
  • the error = l’erreur
  • the inferior = l’inférieur
  • the terror = la terreur

MORE RESOURCES

The lists above offer a beginning – many more words exist that apply to each group. If you’d like to search for more words, WordbyLetter.com is a good resource for English suffixes. It might not be the most visually pleasing of sites but it gets the job done. Just type in the suffixes you want to see in the ‘Words Ending With’ field and the words will come-a-flowin’.

As always, feel free to let me know if I’ve missed anything or if you’d like to share anything. As a student myself, I appreciate any chance to learn!

À plus tard!

M. Matt

Une Petite Fille With a Story…

Voici une jeune fille adorable.

Cette jeune fille adorable veut vous dire une histoire.

L’histoire que cette jeune fille adorable veut vous dire est tout aussi adorable.

Maybe this is a good way to remember the names of some animals because, let’s face it, cuteness makes me want to remember things. There is a whole lot happening in this story so pay attention because she is NOT going to tell it again.

Totes adorbs.

And don’t you forget it.

English “-IST” to French “-ISTE”

DrinkingCoffeeBienvenue, fellow French learners! My name is Matt and I’m one of Dr. Kerley’s students. Like many of you, I’m learning French and I’ll be blogging regularly about a variety of things – language resources, French concepts, my deepest secrets, and more. Feel free to leave comments below because we can certainly help each other learn. That’s me to the left with a look of hope on my face. Most likely,  this photo was taken after I successfully used l’imparfait and le passé composé in the same sentence. Baby steps, y’all.

Alors, commençons!

“IST” BECOMES “ISTE”

Eiffel tower with pink balloonsAlthough memorization can be an effective (and necessary) way of learning a language, it’s also important to learn using larger concepts. These concepts add many words to our vocabulary in a very short amount of time –  bypassing the rote memorization of lists. Why? Because once we know a concept, it can immediately applied.

For today’s example, we’re going to look at words in English that end in “-IST”. Most English words ending in “-IST” can be converted into French by adding an “-E” to the end. Another great aspect? The majority of these French words are masculine!

It’s a two-for-one deal today, folks: not only are we adding a bunch of words to our vocabulary, but we’re learning their gender. We may slip here and there until we learn the gender exceptions but it’s definitely a start. For now, let’s just say that the odds are ever in our favor.

Below are 40 examples of English “-IST” to French “-ISTE” words to get us started:

  • the activist = l’activiste
  • the alarmist = l’alarmiste
  • the antagonist = l’antagoniste
  • the artist = l’artiste
  • the cyclist = le cycliste
  • the biologist =le biologiste
  • the botanist = le botaniste
  • the capitalist = le capitaliste
  • the centrist = le centriste
  • the communist = le communiste
  • the conformist = le conformiste
  • the economist = l’économiste
  • the dentist = le dentiste
  • the dermatologist = le dermatologiste
  • the extremist = l’extrémiste
  • the fascist = le fasciste
  • the feminist = le féministe
  • the finalist = le finaliste
  • the florist = le fleuriste
  • the humorist = l’humoriste
  • the idealist = l’idéaliste
  • the journalist = le journaliste
  • the linguist = le linguiste
  • the materialist = le matérialiste
  • the minimalist = le minimaliste
  • the moralist = le moraliste
  • the nationalist = le nationaliste
  • the nutritionist = le nutritionniste
  • the optimist = l’optimiste
  • the pacifist = le pacifiste
  • the pessimist = le pessimiste
  • the pianist = le pianiste
  • the populist = le populiste
  • the racist = le raciste
  • the realist = le réaliste
  • the socialist = le socialiste
  • the specialist = le spécialiste
  • the stylist = le styliste
  • the terrorist = le terroriste
  • the tourist = le touriste

And JUST when you thought the fun was over, there’s even more. Below are four words that also happen to be French “-ER” verbs. And as we all know – “ER” verbs are always a welcome sight:

  • he exists = Il existe. = EXISTER
  • I insist = J’insiste. = INSISTER
  • She persists = Elle persiste. = PERSISTER
  • One resists = On résiste = RÉSISTER

MORE RESOURCES

Wiktionary has a nice list of French words suffixed with “iste” to check out. Also, there is a handy list of English “ist” words arranged by frequency at More Words. Take a look at both lists and generate some of your own combinations. If anything you’ll learn a bunch of fun English words that end in “-IST” that you never knew existed. You know, everyday words like “antivivisectionist”, “dodecaphonist”, and “martyrologist”.

Soon, we’ll take a look at words in English that end in “ion” and the ridiculous amount of words and verbs you can quickly add to your French vocabulary. Good times.

À plus tard!!

M. Matt

4th Postcard from Gary at L’Institut de Français

I have been working with Gary for three years.  He recently took part in an immersion program at L’Institut de Français in Villefranche-sur-mer and agreed to send me updates on the institute and his experience there.  This is his fourth “virtual postcard”.  If you haven’t read the others yet make sure you do.  Elles sont fantastiques aussi! Continue reading “4th Postcard from Gary at L’Institut de Français”

3rd Postcard from Gary at L’Institut de Français

I have been working with Gary for three years.  He recently took part in an immersion program at L’Institut de Français in Villefranche-sur-mer and agreed to send me updates on the institute and his experience there.  This is his third “virtual postcard”.  If you haven’t read the others yet make sure you do.  Elles sont fantastiques aussi!

Bonjour Melissa.

I learned something yesterday that will astonish you.  One of my classmates, Jim, an engineer from Australia who I think is 48, is in the level just below mine.  In any case, he and I went for long walk along the coast yesterday, around St Jean-Cap Ferrat.  He told me he started studying French ONE YEAR AGO (now he’s in level 5 and I’m in level 6, of 7!).  I think he is very hard-working and dedicated.  He bought the entire French in Action program for the first 26 lessons (there are 52 in total).  French in Action contains a lot of material; videos, audio tapes, workbooks, study guides, etc.  It was Jim’s goal to do all 26 lessons before he came, and he just made it he said.  He spent two weeks on each lesson, working hard.  He said it’s possible to do French in Action completely independently, but there is one part of each lesson where one really needs a teacher.  I was shocked that Jim could make almost as much progress in a year as I’ve made in 8!

À bientôt!  Gary