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Posts tagged ‘French’

Learning French Through YouTube

Christmas is over and the new year has begun. As we rekindle last year’s failed resolutions to try to become more productive, why not try to turn a bad habit into a good habit?

I love YouTube for all of its counter-productive qualities, but why not turn those shameful YouTube binges into something more productive? Many of us are guilty of spending countless hours on YouTube watching everything from Harlem Shake renditions and twerking choreography to other shorts such as Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

But believe or not, there are some really awesome YouTube channels for learning– and I mean learning for almost everything.

Maybe after you watch some Nyancat or Jenna Marble’s weekly Wednesday video, you could try out these two channels:

Learn French with Vincent

Vincent is a great guy that posts awesome videos teaching vocabulary, useful phrases, and French grammar. He seems to cover everything so far. I often sift through his grammar videos to learn new mechanics and reinforce whatever the heck my French teacher was talking about that I didn’t understand because… you know, she said it in French. I think this guy’s love of teaching language rather than profit shines through in these videos. I do a lot of my language learning with this channel, especially when I want grammar and review.

And trust me, there is PLENTY of material. He has posted over 200,ooo videos! And if English isn’t your native language, n’inquitéz pas (don’t worry) ! Either he, his friends, or his fans have converted them to cater to native speakers of German, Portuguese, Arabic… the list goes on.

Extra French avec sous-titres

Extra French

These are videos of an some old Discovery education series. I have no idea who uploaded these, but they’re awesome for several reasons. If you’re a beginner looking to reinforce the basics that you’ve learned, then you must watch these. In addition, the acting is god-awful and the writing is even worse, but honestly, it makes them that much more fun to watch.

It’s kind of like French version of “Friends” except… bad. But it’s in French!

You can tell whoever wrote this series was very intentional. They are good at implementing basic vocabulary, grammar, and repetition for reinforcement. Honestly, I wish more series likes this existed for language learning.

For more resources, check out my previous post here.

Are any of you learning a language at the moment? If so, which one and what have you found helpful?

Learning French- No class required

Most people would probably agree that learning another language is a valuable skill. I certainly do, and that’s why I am in France. However, although many of us would like to learn another language, we can’t always just uproot ourselves and move to another country. Nevertheless, that is not an excuse for not trying to become bilingual.

Thanks to this marvelous system of interconnect computers known as the internet, it seems that you can learn almost any language– and do so for free. Before that, most of us probably learned French through this gem:

If you just watched that YouTube clip, then you’re either giddy with nostalgia or very confused. Let me know which by leaving a comment.

Without further delay, here are my resources at the moment, in no particular order:

1. FrenchPod101.com

This is service isn’t free– but the podcast is. Just search for “French Pod 101.” The only downside is that you’ll have to sift through the episodes because they’re not broadcasted in a progressive order. On Monday, they may post a beginner less, but then Tuesday they may post an advanced session.

The premium service is only $25 per month, and the resources available on the website are plentiful. There are audio lessons, flashcards, quizzes, etc. You can create a dashboard based on your level and listen to the audio lessons that consist of daily French conversations and read along with the transcript for anything you don’t understand. Afterwards, you can add the vocabulary words to your flashcard deck just by clicking a button. You’ll learn common French expressions, grammar, and also French culture.

They also offer the same resources for many other languages, including English, Spanish, German, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Polish, etc. 

2. News In Slow French

Again, this is a website, but it also offers a free podcast. This is my personal favorite at the moment. However,  I don’t recommend this to beginners. If you’re still trying to learn basic phrases and vocabulary, then hold off on this for a couple months– or not, maybe just use it as secondary study. I use this everyday while I’m on the train and metro.

News in Slow French is simply that: the week’s news spoken in slow French. Catherine and Rylan share the week’s top news stories while speaking slowly and enunciating each word so that you can train your mind to listen and comprehend while not feeling too overwhelmed. This is a great way to practice listening comprehension and acquire new vocabulary. Repetition is key. Pick about 4-5 podcasts and listen to them repetitively throughout the week after reading along with the transcript a few times first.

I love this program because I’m expanding my vocabulary in a practical manner by learning words that I’d want to know immediately. It also offers grammar lessons, and teaches a new French expression each week. However, this is only available through the subscription, which is also pretty cheap. I think I paid $100 for the entire year or something around that price.

The only downside I can think of is that now I have an irrational fondness for Rylan and Catherine. I really want to meet them and to know what they look like. I’d like to say thank you for  offering an awesome podcast. Maybe we can grab lunch. This is a usual side-effect that I suffer from while becoming a regular listener to a podcast. They have very nice voices and Rylan sounds like a very animated and funny guy. I think we should be friends.

3. Le Petit Quotidien

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One of the kids has a subscription to this and I keep stealing them. These are a great resource to practice reading and acquire new vocabulary– but since it’s for children, the writing isn’t complicated. This also makes them perfect for a beginner to lower intermediate because you can focus on acquiring new vocabulary while not feeling intimidated by an overwhelming amount of complicated grammatical structure. Instead, you reinforce the grammar you have already learned while picking up maybe only a couple new structures.

The stories are fun and often come with supplemental information. The pictures help by providing context clues and visual aids to remember and recall what you’ve learned.

Each issues covers vocabulary, current events, the weather, etc. Additional information varies, but from these I’ve learned French vocabulary for geography, earth science, cultures, etc. You’ll learn by reading about fun educational topics that range from “How Earthquakes Work” to “What is Racism?” In all seriousness, that was one of the headlines for one of the editions earlier this week. It’s a great tool for youth education. Does anyone know if the New York Times has something like this available for kids in the United States? If not, they absolutely should.

Although the resources that I’ve just listed pertain particularly to French, there’s most likely an equivalent out there for most languages. However, if anyone reading this is interested in finding resources for another language, then please leave a comment and I’d be glad to take on the challenge and see what I could find!

But of course, it goes without saying that the best way to improve your language learning process is to TALK. TALK. TALK. TALK.

And I know: it’s easier said than… said done. I have difficulty seizing the opportunity to practice and I actually live in France. But there’s resources for that too that I’ve recently found!

I’ll continue that topic next week. Bisous!

For more resources, check out my other article about Learning French Through YouTube

Pardon My English

I came to Paris without having studied French other than a month or so before I left. Before then, my knowledge of French didn’t extend much beyond silly phrases from childhood cartoons– such as this:

We all loved this guy back in the day...

We all loved this guy back in the day…

I think it would be informative for me as well for others for me to recount what methods are working for me and which ones are not.

If you or someone you know is trying to learn another language, particularly French, then perhaps you’ll find this useful– and also, I’d love to hear from you.

What I have found to make this process difficult is the following:

Paris is inundated with English.

Paris is a #1 tourist destination and receives something around 20 or so million visitors per year. In result, English is everywhere. It’s the language of business and commerce, and therefore, it is the language world. Most locals and tourists can speak decent English and often use it on  a daily basis. This is great when you’re a tourist visiting for a few days, but not when you’re trying to learn French while living in Paris. The French immediately pick up your accent and will often switch to English.

However, I will not pin this as rude. I’ve read quite a number of blogs or heard accounts of people being offended when the French switch to English. If you visit and this happens to you, don’t take offense. It’s not because they don’t like your accent, it’s because they’re trying to accommodate you and they’re probably excited to practice English too. Just keep replying in French. If it’s someone you’re comfortable with or know personally, then ask them to speak to you in French.

On a related note, don’t feel intimidated to speak French (this is an issue I battled with everyday as well). Immediately address people here in French– and always precede your encounters by greeting them with “bonjour.” It means a lot to them for you to at least take a stab at French while asking for directions, even if you’re awful at it. (Which is another topic I’d like to address in the future.)

Before I left for Paris, I heard many stories about Parisians being rude and criticizing foreigners’ French. I’ve yet to feel any criticism or judgment. Yes, I have witnessed some confused expressions from those who couldn’t make sense out of whatever I managed to garble out. I honestly think that most feelings of being judged derive from one’s own lack of confidence.

Worst case scenario involves me giving up and apologizing. I often say (in French), “I’m sorry. I still learning French.” And that often eases the situation.

But really, English is everywhere.

Right now, I’m writing this article in a Starbucks in Opèra. They’re playing Christmas music– in English of course, and I’m referring to all the classics and contemporary renditions: Frank Sinatra to Michael Bublé. I feel more up-to-date on American cinema than I’ve been in the past few years. Most films are available in “V.O.” or “Version Originale” with French subtitles. Furthermore, going to the movies here is much cheaper, so I enjoy it much more often than I used to back home.

All in all, if you’d like to learn French in Paris, go for it! It’s available as long as you’re disciplined– but if you want to learn English too, that’s plenty available.

In my opinion, most key factors to learning a language, derive from motivation and discipline. I don’t care what articles are out there ranking how difficult one language is compared to another. I don’t agree with them. If you’re motivated and disciplined enough to learn, then you will learn.

In my past 3 months, I’ve picked up so much more French than I’ve expected to– and I want to share my tips and resources with everyone because I think I’ve found some great stuff that’s helpful! So for the next few weeks, I’ll be posting about this subject.

In the meantime, here are the simplest, yet most essentials tips. For anyone who has researched the best ways to learn a language, you’ve heard this over and over again, but my experience so far prove them to be axiomatic.

1. Stay disciplined. Study and practice every day.

2. Incorporate all facets of comprehension and production on a daily basis: listening, reading, speaking, and writing.

3. Go out of your comfort zone. Walk around and meet other people who only speak that language and make friends. You may spend a long time struggling to communication, but nothing expedites the process faster than immersion.