As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/

Help with learning French and French programs!

GotreaGotrea Registered User new member
edited November 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Hello! I would like your advice of what kind of program I should use to learn French. So far, I have tried a classroom setting and have failed miserably. The only thing I took away from it was a lot of verb conjugation and some sentence structure. My vocabulary is almost non existent since the teacher was saying “If you can master French verbs, then you have basically learned 80% of the language.” Therefore, we mostly worked on verb conjugation.

Anyway, I am looking at Rosetta Stone and maybe a language exchange with someone in Quebec (I live in Canada so it would be ideal for both the French speaker and me). Of course I would start with Rosetta Stone first since I don’t want to come off as a total newb. Does anyone think there would be a better program to use? I’m also open to advice on how to learn French, such as:

How often I should use a program?
How often I should watch French TV or play video games in French (Yay, PS3 language change!)?
What areas of French are best to learn first?

The main point of this is for work but social conversation interests me more. I believe that if I can just learn to hold my own in a conversation, I’ll be able to slowly add more field related terms over time and my proficiency in French will skyrocket! Am I wrong to think this?

Haha, sorry for the long post!

Gotrea on

Posts

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    Is your work going to expect you to know French French, or Quebecois French?

    As much as the Quebecois will disagree, they are very different from the perspective of a non-native speaker.

  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited November 2011
    Quebecois français has a lot of different words than Parisian, FYI. EDIT: Beat by Thanatos.

    You need to practice, practice, practice. Did you not have others in class you could have conversation groups with? Was there no vocal in the textbook? You need to study your ass off.

    For vocabulary though, I'd use memrise.com and livemocha.com. The first is free and amazing. The second is pretty good, but costs per month after the first couple of lessons, but it's very cheap and your work is graded by actual French speakers who are on the same site learning other languages.

    I don't understand "how often" though. As much as you can! There's no "best area" to learn first. How far did you get in classes? What tenses do you know?

    Esh on
  • GotreaGotrea Registered User new member
    Well, I hope to work for the government so the ideal French to learn would be International French. However, I expect learning a bit of Quebecois francais would be helpful too!

  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    Gotrea wrote:
    Well, I hope to work for the government so the ideal French to learn would be International French. However, I expect learning a bit of Quebecois francais would be helpful too!

    Maybe. The accent and a lot of pronunciations are quite a bit different.

  • FireflashFireflash Montreal, QCRegistered User regular
    edited November 2011
    I guess you could play videogames in french, they use a pretty international french, although it's closer to France than Quebec french. But honestly even though I'm french, most of the time the games just don't feel right when played in french.

    If you like the Simpsons the Quebec translation is pretty awesome. I watch them in both languages and sometimes the quebec version is just plain funnier than the english one. And if you want a good Quebec TV series that uses a lot of slang you can check out Les Invincibles. Pretty funny and you can't get much more Quebecois than that.


    As a kid I think I learned more about understanding and speaking english from watching Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Home Improvement than I did at school.

    Fireflash on
    PSN: PatParadize
    Battle.net: Fireflash#1425
    Steam Friend code: 45386507
  • GotreaGotrea Registered User new member
    Haha! And who says watching TV will make you into a couch potato! Watching the Simpsons in french sounds like a great idea. I'll also look into Les Invincibles.

  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited November 2011
    Gotrea wrote:
    Haha! And who says watching TV will make you into a couch potato! Watching the Simpsons in french sounds like a great idea. I'll also look into Les Invincibles.

    Watching The Simpsons in French (Quebecois at that) with no vocab and no idea about conjugations isn't going to help you learn anything. You sound like you're looking for an easy out and there really isn't one.

    And if you want to learn French for international/government reasons (as you stated), Quebecois is a terrible dialect to learn. Did you take classes at a college or high school level?

    Esh on
  • Red RoverRed Rover Registered User regular
    Esh wrote:
    And if you want to learn French for international/government reasons (as you stated), Quebecois is a terrible dialect to learn. Did you take classes at a college or high school level?

    It all depends what you intend to do in the government. If you're just looking to get a job anywhere within the Canadian gov't then Quebec french is just fine. If you're looking for a foreign affairs type of job where you might be interacting with dignitaries from other french speaking nations... perhaps not. I say this as a Canadian gov't employee (who speaks french) and is surrounded by Quebecois at the office. :-)

    This message will self-destruct in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... !
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    Red Rover wrote:
    Esh wrote:
    And if you want to learn French for international/government reasons (as you stated), Quebecois is a terrible dialect to learn. Did you take classes at a college or high school level?

    It all depends what you intend to do in the government. If you're just looking to get a job anywhere within the Canadian gov't then Quebec french is just fine. If you're looking for a foreign affairs type of job where you might be interacting with dignitaries from other french speaking nations... perhaps not. I say this as a Canadian gov't employee (who speaks french) and is surrounded by Quebecois at the office. :-)

    I think this is a given.

  • KorlashKorlash Québécois TorontoRegistered User regular
    You guys talk as if our French was some kind of horrible, twisted dialect that no one can possibly understand but us.

    If you learn Québec French, it will really not be that hard to communicate with foreigners. I've never had problems being understood. Obviously it will be problematic if you greet them with slangs, but Québec French is not necessarily rustic...

    Learn Québec French. It is a big problem with the way anglophones are learning French in Canada right now that they learn from the French. Learning French from France will add an extra barrier of difficulty when trying to understand French Canadians. These are the people you're most likely to converse in French with, so your learning should be geared towards that. Once you've got a good grasp on the language, you'll have no problems at all being understood.

    Just think about the fact that tons of people get government jobs who speak Québec French. Clearly that isn't a problem.

    396796-1.png
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited November 2011
    Korlash wrote:
    You guys talk as if our French was some kind of horrible, twisted dialect that no one can possibly understand but us.

    If you learn Québec French, it will really not be that hard to communicate with foreigners. I've never had problems being understood. Obviously it will be problematic if you greet them with slangs, but Québec French is not necessarily rustic...

    Learn Québec French. It is a big problem with the way anglophones are learning French in Canada right now that they learn from the French. Learning French from France will add an extra barrier of difficulty when trying to understand French Canadians. These are the people you're most likely to converse in French with, so your learning should be geared towards that. Once you've got a good grasp on the language, you'll have no problems at all being understood.

    Just think about the fact that tons of people get government jobs who speak Québec French. Clearly that isn't a problem.

    No, but I can tell you that the French over here find it very amusing and don't really take it very seriously. Every time my host family hears Quebecois on TV they start laughing at it. So, if he plans on anything international, it probably isn't the best route.

    I love Canadian French personally. I actually prefer the sound of it and find it easy to understand.

    Esh on
  • KorlashKorlash Québécois TorontoRegistered User regular
    We find French from France amusing and don't take it seriously... So it's a case of picking your poison. Bear in mind that what your family sees on TV is likely French with heavy slang. I doubt they'd find the French in our news broadcasts hilarious.

    What I notice is that people from France seem to be incapable of adjusting to speaking with a Québec accent, while it isn't that hard for us to adjust to them. The only thing that can cause problems is our tendency to cut syllables, but that's easily remedied.

    Overall, I still say you should learn this country's French. It just makes sense to learn the local flavour of the language.

    396796-1.png
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    Korlash wrote:
    We find French from France amusing and don't take it seriously... So it's a case of picking your poison. Bear in mind that what your family sees on TV is likely French with heavy slang. I doubt they'd find the French in our news broadcasts hilarious.

    What I notice is that people from France seem to be incapable of adjusting to speaking with a Québec accent, while it isn't that hard for us to adjust to them. The only thing that can cause problems is our tendency to cut syllables, but that's easily remedied.

    Overall, I still say you should learn this country's French. It just makes sense to learn the local flavour of the language.

    It was people on shows like Le Grand Journal and La Nouvelle Edition. Quebecois musicians and such.

    Is The Simpsons you guys have dubbed in Quebecois or French French? The voice actors they have here are almost spot on. I almost spit wine all over my laptop the first time I heard Ralph Wiggum speak in French.

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Never tell a real French speaker that you're full using the Quebecois vocabulary. It translates to "I'm drunk" in real people French.

    What is this I don't even.
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    Darkewolfe wrote:
    Never tell a real French speaker that you're full using the Quebecois vocabulary. It translates to "I'm drunk" in real people French.

    Don't they use the French word for shopping cart to mean car?

  • KorlashKorlash Québécois TorontoRegistered User regular
    edited November 2011
    No? We use "char", which isn't really that strange considering that the word is used to describe many vehicles. It's not the word for shopping carts, at least not in the dictionary. It might be a slang in your region.
    Never tell a real French speaker that you're full using the Quebecois vocabulary. It translates to "I'm drunk" in real people French.

    ...
    Is The Simpsons you guys have dubbed in Quebecois or French French? The voice actors they have here are almost spot on. I almost spit wine all over my laptop the first time I heard Ralph Wiggum speak in French.

    It's in Québécois. Everything we have is in Québécois. We produce all of our media, and all our movies are dubbed by Québécois. This is also a pretty good reason why it would be better for the OP should not shy way from using material from Québec to learn, since there's just a whole lot more of it available (although he could find material from France online, I guess). And again, it really isn't that different.

    Ok, you prompted me to watch a video of the Simpsons dubbed in France. These voices are so positively terrible that my feeble human mind can't even begin to comprehend it. I want to punch Homer in the face. I think I prefer our version. :)

    I'm not really seeing why anyone would take you less seriously if you were to speak like people do in our news broadcasts... They speak perfect French, use no local slang, and pronounce everything correctly. They put less emphasis on the vowels than the French, but I don't see why that would make it funny. Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efEM72JSAgg Was that hilarious? I think that's the kind of French he should aim for, since it will be familiar to people here while being easily understood by everybody. Plus, it's not that much of an effort. It's really a stretch to call our French a dialect. There's some slang (just like the French have some slang), but it's not like you learn that in school. Our dictionaries are completely interchangeable. Pronunciation is the only difference between the two versions of French, there are no "extra words" to learn. And even then, there aren't that many letters that we pronounce differently. We just tend to shorten things. Where a French person will say "une", with a clear distinction between the two sounds, we'll just say it with a subdued "e" sound. That's really the main difference: our vowels have less emphasis put on them, and then to sound more "closed". He should really be able to understand both without difficulty. The two versions of the language have some different pronunciations, but it's easy for people on both sides to understand the other. I have talked to plenty of French people without making any effort to subdue my accent and had no problem at all being understood.

    Anyway, that was just my little educative capsule on why Québec French is not a horrible monster you should flee from. :) OP, do use local material to learn the language. Bear in mind that if you work for the government, you'll get to speak to all kinds of people, so training your ear to understand different versions of French isn't such a bad thing.


    As for the way you were being taught, it was mostly correct. You really ought to focus on verbs first, since getting the tenses wrong will totally screw up the meaning of your sentences, and the verbs do sound noticeably different based on the tense you're using. You need to start by studying the basic rules of the three groups of verbs (-er, -tre, -ir). I recommend buying a Bescherelle of verb conjugations. These are useful even for people who's first language is French. You'll see conjugation tables for every tense for all the verbs you will reasonably need to use. They are nicely grouped in categories so you can see the similarities in how they are written.

    Maybe don't focus on the details of the spelling at first, but at least learn how things should sound like. Whether or not you need to put a s or not at the end of a verb is only going to matter when you've got more experience. Slowly learn about the specific rules of spelling as you are more confident that you can carry on a conversation. I'd say the complexities of French really make it necessary that you look at the forest before looking at the trees.

    Make sure that when you learn a new noun, you learn its gender as well. You'll be understood if you get the gender wrong, but people will find it comical. There's no easy rule for that, you just have to learn it by heart.

    Now that I think of it though, learning from TV programs is sort of "advanced". You'll have trouble even recognizing the words that are being spoken. If you feel weak on your vocabulary, you might want to make a conscious effort to learn a few words every day and try to construct sentences that use them. I'm just saying that so you don't get discouraged if you can't understand a word of what they say on TV. Even in high school, after a few years of English classes, I had a hard time understanding English movies, despite being one of the better students in my class. They just spoke too fast for my brain to detect the individual words being spoken, yet I had no trouble understanding my teacher. That's because she was making a conscious effort to pronounce correctly. So maybe stick to news channels at first. Radio Canada (the French CBC) is good for that: they speak a very high quality of French which should be easy for you to understand. The news broadcasts are a good way to get yourself used to hearing people speak the language.

    If you love hockey and RDS is available in your region, you could always try to watch the games in French. The announcers speak great French. It would help you learn the language while being a pleasant activity.

    Not sure I've got much more advice beyond that. I learned English by basically immersing myself in the language, so maybe that's what you need to do, once you feel comfortable enough. That exchange with the Québecois sounds like a great idea in this regard. I know a French girl who didn't speak a word of English when she came to Toronto. A year later, she has a huge accent, but she can be understood easily.

    Korlash on
    396796-1.png
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    Korlash wrote:
    No? We use "char", which isn't really that strange considering that the word is used to describe many vehicles. It's not the word for shopping carts, at least not in the dictionary. It might be a slang in your region.

    Chariot is the word in French. Char in my dictionary say "Tank, chariot".

  • VanguardVanguard But now the dream is over. And the insect is awake.Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Rosetta Stone is expensive and not worth it in my opinion. I'm teaching myself French now. I use three different books, audio tapes, and I listen to some books (like actual literature) on my iPod. This is something you need to practice everyday.

    I use the Berlitz self-teacher because it's easy to do on the subway. This has been good for building some basic vocabulary, sentence structure, etc. It is in no way comprehensive.

    I have a textbook that I copy the exercises out of. I also take detailed notes on the different parts of language.

    I have a dictionary of French idioms that I consult as I need it.

    The audio tapes I use are also Berlitz and are mostly there so I can practice pronunciation.

    When I'm being diligent about this, I get in an hour of practice daily.

  • KorlashKorlash Québécois TorontoRegistered User regular
    edited November 2011
    Esh wrote:
    Korlash wrote:
    No? We use "char", which isn't really that strange considering that the word is used to describe many vehicles. It's not the word for shopping carts, at least not in the dictionary. It might be a slang in your region.

    Chariot is the word in French. Char in my dictionary say "Tank, chariot".

    Hmm, I could see how some confusion could arise here.

    Char in French can be used in different contexts. My copy of the Larousse says it can be used for tanks, hippomobile cars, sail cars, parade cars and funeral cars. It can also be used for the vehicle, open at the back, used in antiquity during games and warfare. In English, you would use the word "chariot" to refer to that thing. There's also a reference to the Québec usage of the word.

    However, under "chariot", I don't see anything related to this antique car or anything appearing in the definition of "char". The most relevant definition is that chariot can refer to a something used to carry loads across small distances, so I guess it's fair to use that for shopping carts. In Québec, we call them "panier d'épicerie" (grocery baskets).

    The main point is that char =/= chariot. There is no common link in these words' definitions. They refer to different vehicles altogether. If someone uses the word chariot in French to refer to the antique vehicle open at the back, it is an anglicism. Using char to refer to a shopping cart is just plain incorrect. Both my "Petit Larousse" and Encyclopedic Larousse confirm this. What dictionary are you using? If you used a French to English dictionary, I could see how you'd have been led to believe the words are the same, but they are not in French. The only link I can find, is that in France, some people use "chariot" to refer to some agricultural vehicles which are elsewhere called "char", but that's clearly not the meaning we're after.

    Just to make sure, I just checked wikipedia and again, the two words do not mean the same thing. Incidentally, we're supposed to be writing "charriot" now. Urgh, stupid French reform...

    Korlash on
    396796-1.png
  • AlthusserAlthusser Registered User regular
    Do everything Vanguard says basically. Don't get bogged down in this argument about chariots. You should probably be studying vocab every day. WRITE EVERY DAY! Reviewing and studying is important but you'll do a lot better if you make PRODUCING the language the focal point of this whole endeavor. Doesn't matter if you "sound like a newb"! Of COURSE you sound like a newb, you're learning the language! Kindergarteners are better at it than you! Who cares? Go on http://www.lang-8.com and start writing in French. French people will correct it for you. It really helped me learn Japanese and you can start with "My name is _____. Today I walked to the beach. It was hot. I hate summer!" if you have to.

    If you're going to watch Simpsons in French make sure you're actively paying attention, picking up on words you know, etc. Don't worry if you get lost here and there, just focus on areas of understanding that you can build on + learn new words from context.

Sign In or Register to comment.