It is fitting I post this on the day that a Frenchwoman, Marion Bartoli, wins a Wimbledon title.
You may recall a few weeks ago as I began this journey to learn some basic French phrases and culture with the goal of being able to respectfully function on a currently unrealistic but dream trip to France for Roland Garros. You may also remember that I am purely limited to the resources of YouTube videos and online help forums. It has been a slow-moving journey so far. For the last few weeks, I’ve been unable to find time to squeeze in daily French lessons even though the language teacher in me is scolding the fact that I know it would be more beneficial to be getting smaller chunks of language over a longer period of time. I’m working towards that now.
As I mentioned in my last post, I began by joining a few online Learn French help forums. They are quite expansive and almost a bit overwhelmingly specific to someone new to the language. The most helpful resources I have found so far have been through the very comprehensive About Learn French forum which has pretty much links to everything you may find yourself needing as a pursuer of the French language.
I decided to start with some YouTube videos.
Here is my recorded first attempt at some basic phrases:
Obviously, I’m running into a myriad of pronunciation struggles which I anticipated but are frustrating nonetheless. In Spanish, all vowels (A, E, I, O, U) have ONE pronunciation and are (with rare exceptions) ALWAYS pronounced. So when you are reading in Spanish, it is relatively easy to read phonetically once you know the pronunciation of the vowels. My struggle with getting to know French is that when I see a word like “elles” I would never assume it is pronounced the same as the word “elle” yet I learned that this is the case. I then decided as a foundation to search for suggestions on the forum about understanding basic French pronunciation. I read the following:
This particular video is about 2.5 hours long so I have only viewed about 20 minutes of the first few lessons focusing on alphabet and numbers. I found it very helpful to start with the basic pronunciation and learning the definite and indefinite articles where Vincent begins his lessons. I am planning on re-viewing some of his videos (especially numbers) to practice and then continuing in further to this particular video series to learn more.
I also over the week or so watched the following as well to kind of hop around and see if I can find something I’d like to stick with:
I learned two verbs with this video- to eat and to love (I believe anything related to eating will come in handy when traveling). It seems a bit advance for where I am at though. I don’t really have the vocabulary to produce sentences with these verbs despite being able to conjugate them.
This is one I viewed that I might not return to because although it was relatively authentic they did not identify what each phrase met. Therefore, I could repeat them and not actually know what I am saying because they don’t ever actually tell you exactly what you are saying.
I am feeling relatively confident with my greetings and a little better with my pronunciation after watching these few videos but am looking forward between now and the next posting to finding out how to ask how much something costs, practicing more with numbers, finding the appropriate way to ask where the bathroom is and maybe some general direction phrases (or maybe just “I’m so lost! Help!”).
Taking a break from the language portion, I found that Bastille Day, a national French holiday celebrating the birth of the French republic is fast approaching on July 14th. To celebrate, I hope to get a bit of an authentic French food taste. Beyond Ratatouille (the movie not the food) and Julie and Julia, my experiences with French cuisine have been very limited. So I took a peek at UrbanSpoon to see what kinds of places I could check out and have found three intriguing creperies in the Detroit area: Le Petit Zinc in Corktown, What Crepe? in Royal Oak/Birmingham/Ann Arbor and Good Girls go to Paris in Midtown. I have never eaten a crepe before nor do I know very much about why they are so popular in French cuisine. I plan to look up more cultural resources to find out more about French restaurant etiquette and common cuisine pronunciation.