Who speaks French?

According to this article in 20 Minutes, French is the fifth most spoken language in the world with 274 million people (That’s a lot of people to practice and converse with). Outside of France, most are located in Canada and Africa. It is expected that 715 million people will speak French by 2050, 85% coming from Africa. It is the fourth language in terms of user on the Internet.

See the statistics below:

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New Friends with French

It can sometimes be very intimidating to talk to someone in their native language, when you are no master of the language in question. But you still need to practice the oral in order to improve and breach the gap.

One way to do so is to join groups with like minded enthusiasts, who are also looking for someone to speak with. Even better are groups where a fluent French speaker is willing to share the secret of the language with you all.

One way to find such groups is through Meetup, it is a great website find local groups that spans various interests, including languages. I encourage you to join one of those groups if you want to progress. Not only you’ll be able to listen and speak fluently, you will also make new friends.

Paris: Most affordable City for Youth

From this article, Paris was named the most affordable city for youths.

Several reasons for that:

– High minimum wage at $12.84 per hour, compared to London at $8.63 per hour
– 3rd in affordability to go to cinema
– 6th in rental charge
– 4th in transportation charge
– 2nd in Burger and conert price behind Berlin
– 3rd in flight prices

However Paris is 22nd out of 25 in the level of tax.

So if you’re looking to improve your language, why not go live in Paris.

Lire en Francais

I have found out from my students that as an adult learning French, finding books to read that are not too childish are hard to obtain.

So it was with great pleasure when I saw the books from CLE International. They have a wide range of books for all levels, from beginner to more advanced. I have found the beginner’s book at a very good level, with simple words and a good story. When a word or a phrase is assumed not to be known by the editor, there is are some description at the bottom of each page.¬†At a more advanced level, they have a shortened version of French classics such as Madame Bovary (picture above) or Les Miserables.

There are also exercises after each chapter to make sure that you’ve understood what you’ve read. It’s a great way to improve your French !

Duolingo

One of the best apps that I have encountered to learn languages in general is Duolingo (https://www.duolingo.com). You can use it online or on any smartphone. The exercises are fun, very much like a game as you are progressing through various levels, earning experience points after you have passed each exercises.

There are various kind of exercises:

– Writing after listening a phrase being read

– Translation in both ways English to French and French to English

– Reading a sentence in a microphone (which you can avoid, if you’re too embarrassed to speak to the phone in a foreign language during commute).

No more than 3 mistakes can be done, otherwise you’ll have to do the exercise again.

You are also able to skip levels by taking the required test if you feel that the first few levels are too easy for you.

I find it a good complement if you have a few minutes to spare during the day.

Alex

Art de vivre

I’ve come across this good article on the BBC about the French art de vivre and its decline in France. Worth a read. I particularly like this quote, which I find somehow a bit true:

“The old French art de vivre is still there. It’s an ideal. It’s a bit like the ideal of an English gentleman. You don’t often find an English gentleman, but the ideal is there and it informs society as a whole,” he says.

“It is the same with our art de vivre. Of course times have changed, but it still survives. It is that feeling you get in France that in human relations we need to do more than just conduct business. We have a duty to entertain, to converse. And in France – thanks to our education system – we still have that ability to converse in a general, universalist way that has been lost elsewhere.

“That is the art de vivre. It is about taking your time. And wine is part of it, because with wine you have to take your time.

“After all, that is one of the great things about wine. You can’t swig it.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21929287