My networked learning project continues this week with a dive into some French culture. As my previous post had discussed, I had not yet ever tasted the beloved French crepe. I was recommended to try Good Girls Go to Paris which is conveniently located a stones throw away from the Detroit Institute of Arts. I decided in the spirit of my new found cultural now ledge that we should go and celebrate on July the 14th or Bastille Day which is the day to honor the birth of the French Republic. The cafe offered sweet and savory crepes and we got one of each. Our savory crepe had Brie cheese, roast beef and cranberries. Our sweet crepe had chocolate, almonds and coconut. I was able to stand and watch them make the crepes. The chef swore to me that they were easy to learn to make. My favorite part of the crepe making process is the crepe spreader that they use to spread out the batter on the griddle. My husband called them little squeegees. As you can see even though we shared, the crepes proved to be too filling and rich for us to finish. They were quite delicious. Their versatility reminds me of that of the Latin American tortilla. Then we continued on to make a morning of the affair with an exploration of French art at the DIA and a trip to the Detroit Historical Museum, a place I had never been. Did you know that Detroit, means “the strait” in French and was chosen because it was located at the narrowest part of the Detroit river so that it could be defended by cannon shot?
On the language side of things, I have been practicing my greetings and common everyday phrases once or twice a day with my husband. I think I have the essential greetings pretty well memorized- pronunciation might be another issue. I encountered the following YouTube video that included a basic French toolkit involving ordering from a restaurant and getting a taxi. I thought these phrases were very simple and necessary for our tourist purpose of travel. I think I have “I want”/ “Je voux” and “please”/ “S’il vous plaît” down which I think could be extremely helpful in many different situations.
Learn basic French: The best basic French toolkit
As I grow a bit more basic vocabulary, I find myself really struggling to imitate the appropriate “r” sound in French so I turned to the French help forums looking for suggestions. Not surprisingly, there had already been multiple requests made about how to best make sure you are saying it correctly and it emphasized that English speakers frequently have trouble with this sound. Practice, practice, practice seemed to be the take away but I did find some links that recommended certain tricks to try and imitate the way it should feel when you make the sound correctly.
Overall though, the more sure-fire suggestion was that I speak with a native speaker and get feedback on my pronunciation in person. That is a bit difficult to accomplish using only help forums & YouTube videos! Even things like Google Hangouts & Skype sessions were still suggested to be a bit challenging to learn pronunciation just because you have the microphone interference. I think considering my purpose of communicating with other people face to face, it is difficult to truly measure my progress without being able to attempt a conversation face to face with someone. I feel like spending an hour face to face with a French speaker would probably trump several hours of my efforts on YouTube and help forums.
Here are some videos I will be checking out before my final post:
Learn French- Basic Phrases for Tourists
Learn to Speak French-Basic French Phrases- Paris Travel Guide
Social Niceties in French