Thursday 9 August 2018

Why should you start your language lessons in August?

September is a very busy month for language teachers and agencies, as it is 'back to school' or 'office'. It is the official end of summer in everybody's head. So why should you start your French or Spanish lessons in August?

1.     You will have priority access to the teachers' timetable. Evenings, early morning and lunch times are very popular slots. There are only 5 working days in a week if a teacher doesn't work at weekends, so book them fast if you can only do these times. Bear in mind tutors need travel time between lessons, so can only do 2 or 3 hours per evening.

2.     There is a certain 'joie de vivre' in summer that we don't have in winter. Use this joy and summer happiness to start your lessons. Language conversations in summer are mostly around nice weather, holidays, which is the nicest and easiest topics to talk about.

3.     For tutors, travelling from lesson to lesson in the evening in daylight is more pleasant in summer. If you want a late start, book it now.

4.     Tutors usually teach less hours in summer and are less tired/more relaxed in summer, this means a more patient teacher who has more time to reflect, prepare lessons and do research for you and the topics/books/programmes you are interested in.

5.     On holiday, you can study/revise at the beach and maybe practise a few words with your family or even better, the natives, if you're in France, Spain, Italy, Greece...

Have you ever started language lessons in summer? How was it? Were you more relaxed to learn?

Thursday 3 May 2018

Which French words can get you into trouble? When words become sexual.

This week, French President Macron called the Australian Prime Minister's wife delicious, thinking of the French adjective délicieuse, which is perfectly flattering and polite. Except that we don't call people delicious in English; well, not in formal situations. It is very easy to end up in a very embarrassing situation, here are a few French words and expressions to be wary of.

Avoir envie de versus envier:
avoir envie de : to want/to feel like
envier: to envy
If you say J'ai envie de toi instead of Je t'envie, you're saying you want someone sexually instead of saying I envy you. Oups.

J'ai envie d'une glace: I feel like having an ice-cream. This is ok.

Qu'est-ce que tu fais cette nuit? What's wrong with that one, you might think. La nuit in France is from 11pm/12am. In English, we always use tonight for the evening. Asking somebody what s/he is doing cette nuit might get you into an awkward conversation.

Say: Qu'est-ce que tu fais ce soir? Unless you really mean cette nuit...

Baiser versus baisser
Just make sure you pronounce these verbs properly. You don't want to say the wrong one.
's' is like a 'z'
'ss' is a strong 's' like the one in 'Sail', not a 'z' sound.

Je t'aime versus Je t'aime bien:
Je t'aime: I love you

Je t'aime bien: I like you
Je l'aime bien: I like him/her
Je les aime bien: I like them

Have you got embarrassing stories because you used the wrong word? Is there a word you always misuse? Which is it? Is there a word you never use because you can't pronounce it right? Please write in the comments.

'London at night' photo credit: Sophie Marette

Thursday 26 April 2018

Confused with 'revenir' and 'retourner'? Read on...

Revenir and retourner create a lot of confusion and mistakes for French learners.

Here are some examples which I hope will help:

Retourner: to go back (not home)
Je voudrais retourner en Thaïlande I would like to go back to Thailand.

L'année dernière, je suis retournée en Grèce, c'était super! J'ai revu mes amis grecs.
Last year, I went back to Greece, it was great! I saw my Greek friends again. 

Revenir : to come back (come home)

Je reviens à Londres mardi I'm coming back to London on Tuesday.
A quelle heure tu reviens ce soir? What time will be be home tonight?

Quand est-ce que tu reviendras ? When will you be back?

Quand est-ce que tu es revenu? When did you come back?

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Funny French expressions

Avoir les pieds en éventail: to relax/not to do anything

Poser un lapin: to stand somebody up

Faire un carton : to be successful

Dormir sur ses deux oreilles: to sleep soundly

Monter sur ses grands chevaux: to be on one's high horse

Mettre du beurre dans les épinards: to earn extra money

Monday 9 April 2018

Craving for some sun? Here is some...summer like French music

You can listen to these at Daho l'aime pop exhibition at Philarmonie de Paris, Cité de la Musique (Pantin métro).
Daho l'aime pop

'Her', a French band, is playing on 10th April 2018 at the Jazz Cafe in Camden London.

Her groupe français

Thursday 15 March 2018

How to translate 'busy' in French?

The word busy is part of every londoner's conversations. Therefore, its wrong translation is a daily occurence in my routine as a French teacher. This post has been long overdue! Read on. 

Comment dire busy en français?

Il y a du monde: for trains, buses, concerts, shops, anywhere with a lot of people. 

C'est chargé: timetable, agenda, programme, day.

Une journée chargée m'attend. I have a busy day ahead of me. 
J'ai un emploi du temps chargé cette semaine. I have a busy schedule this week.

Occupé: person, phone (engaged), toilets

C'est occupé: it's busy

Je suis occupé(e): I'm busy


Thursday 22 February 2018

Flu and cold season - Talk about illness in French

Comment ça va? How are you?

Je suis malade: I'm ill

J'ai un rhume: I have a cold

J'ai la grippe: I have the flu

Important cultural note: the word flu - for my French mind - is over-used in England. In France, la grippe is only when you are in bed and can't move. If you're at work or can do things, you don't have la grippe).

J'ai été malade/au lit pendant une semaine: I was ill/in bed for a week

Qu'est-ce que tu prends? What are you taking?

Tu as vu un médecin/un docteur? Have you seen your GP?

Bon rétablissement: Get well soon

Je prends: I take...

Je suis mort/kaput: I'm dead

Je ne peux plus bouger: I can't move

J'ai été hospitalisé/e: I've been hospitalized

Je suis allé/e/j'ai dû aller aux urgences:  I had to go to A & E

Tu as un mouchoir? Do you have a tissue?

J'ai été en congé maladie pendant une semaine: I was off work for a week

Le congé maternité: Pregnancy leave

La carte vitale: the Sécurité sociale (French NHS) card French people present to their doctor/specialist/chemist, which allows a free or reduced rate consultation/free or reduced rate medicine, depending on your mutuelle (private insurance). If you don't have one, you will be looked at as if you're an alien.

What phrases/words would you like me to add on this post?