Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Apprendre le Français

Always pushing myself to learn and discover new things, I have signed on as a student at Alliance Francais here in Chicago for the past two sessions, fine tuning my listening and speaking skills with regards to French.  Listening I've got down pretty darn well--I can listen to someone speaking and not transfer everything that they are saying into English.  Initially, in the days when I did have translate, I hated that people wouldn't use that little 3 second delay apparatus so I  could stay on track with the rapid fire French coming out of their mouths.  Have you ever listened to a news story or conversation, comprehending maybe 60 to 70% with the resulting translation minus the other 30 to 40%  occasionally being fairly disastrous (or very funny)?  

For those of you wanting to work on your French, I would suggest checking out, an interactive classroom offered by one of the public television stations in France;  TV5.  As it is all in French, you do need a little understanding of the language to get you started.  There is a weekly "journal" or newscast to listen to and then you are directed to their on-line exercises of fill-in the blanks, true/false questions and matching.  They don't make things easy by talking slowly--it is that difficult rapid fire, I have about 5 marbles in my mouth to make it more difficult to understand French.  But it is a great tool to enhance one's comprehension.  There's even an on-line dictionary that all of us in my house use for reference.  I keep it in my bookmark bar so I can get to it easily.  

Another place I visit each morning is le 8 heures newscast on  This is their morning program--much like the Today show, with a 10 minute news segment.  It's short and sweet, the gentlemen giving the news are easy on the eyes and they make an effort, I do believe, to be understood in terms of their speaking.  I use to start all my Paris mornings here while my daughter was getting ready to head off to school.  I wish they had the whole show on Internet--it was fun to watch.  

Finally, there is, a 24/7 news channel that you can access all day and listen to in English, French or Arabic.  It is my least favorite of the three but is always available and for those of you who find yourselves awake when you should be sleeping, this might be a worthwhile place for you to pass the time until slumber gratefully takes a hold of you once again.

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