Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How does it work ? Comment ça marche ?

Why do you post your French lessons online?
I put some of my French lessons and exercises online as a practice tool. A language student needs a regular practice in order to make progress. However, many of y'all don't have a lot of time to devote to daily practice. I wanted to put online a tool for learning and practicing French adapted to today's fast and busy lives. So my students would stop saying: "le chien a mangé mes devoirs!" *

"Susannah et le subjonctif" (good title for a Rohmer movie...)

How to use this blog to learn French?
Start by picking what you would like to do for your practice. On the right side, the French lessons are organized by level and by types of exercise. You can also use the "search this blog" tool and type in your level or the type of exercise or grammar point that you want to work on. If you don't have anything in mind, just browse the menu on the right until you see something for you.

What are the levels?
I use the official levels of the Cadre Europeen Commun de Référence pour les Langues, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The levels: A1 (beginner) A2 (pre-intermediate) B1, B2 (intermediate) C1, C2 (advanced). I added one, that I named "Racines", which means "Roots". It corresponds to complete beginner in French, and aims at providing a solid foundation on which to build.

How do I know my level?
If you are currently attending a French language programme, or studying at a University, you probably know your level. For all the other free learners, just pick what you think might be your level and experiment. You can self-assess your level by selecting a type of exercise entitled "Test", which mixes various grammar, vocabulary, cultural points. If you find the "test" you took too challenging, move to the previous level, if you find it easy, just go up to the next level.

What are your French lessons like?
There are different types of lessons:

- Topic-based: these lessons focus on specific points.
They can be situational, i.e. inspired by real situations, conversations. Their goal is to help students practice real-life interraction with native French speakers. They are an in vitro preparation for in vivo communication. For instance if you are planning a trip to France, you might want to check a lesson called "Au restaurant".
They can be grammatical, i.e. focused on one particular grammar point. This is especially helpful for students who need to review for school exams.
They can be based on learning new vocabulary, to help students expand their lexical capital.

These lessons all work together to provide students with tools for mastering the French language.

- Tests: these exercise-based lessons assemble a number of different points or topics relevant to a specific level. For instance a test for level A1 will feature some present tense, some definite articles, some adjectives, whereas level C1 test will have some conditional, some subjunctive, some pronouns etc. These tests can help assess your level as well as determine your strengths and weaknesses. If, when you complete a test, you feel that you are not quite mastering a certain topic, you can just go to the corresponding lesson.

What are the exercises like?
- As you might have noticed, I love fill-in-the-blanks exercises! I believe that they really engage the student, who has to be fully active.
- My exercises are short. Even busy students should be able to practice. If you do have more time, it's your choice to do as many exercises as you wish.
- These exercises are made for real life. Each sentence or text is chosen for its relevance. You will certainly have a chance to hear or use their content.
- People speak like that. For intance, I chose to use "on" much more than "nous" because that is what French people use. I chose "Comment ça va?" or "Vous allez bien?" over "Comment allez-vous?" because the latter sounds far too formal and artificial.

Are there different types of exercises?
Yes. Apart from the classic exercises, you can practice with:
- Texts : written documents, from the press mostly, for the more advanced. I select them for their relevevance and cultural interest, as well as their vocabulary and expressions.
- Songs : music is a fantastic (and enjoyable) way to learn a language. Songs are also part of a country's popular culture, and people often refer to singers, quote lyrics… You might want to know what they are talkin g about!

I am a student and I have a test next week! Help!
Don't panic! Pick the subjects that will be on your test and start practicing. Browse the column on the right, or type in the grammar points you need to review in the search engine.
If you can't find what you need, email me and I'll post something as soon as I can! sandrinedeparis (at) rocketmail (dot) com.

How are the lessons organized?
There are (generally) 3 elements in a lesson:
Theory: grammar explanation, vocabulary, with relevant exemples to put things in context.
Practice exercises: to, well... practice and get better at it.
Audio: to listen to a real French person. Reading and listening at the same time is a very efficient way of memorizing.

How do I practice with your exercises?
There are several ways of making this work for you.
- You can start with learning the theory. Read, make notes, make sense of it with the examples. And then apply your new knowledge to the exercises.

- Or, you can start directly with an exercise, before reading the theory. Starting with exercises is good: it helps you practice and develop your language intuition, a key element of language learning.

- You can start with listening to the Audio recording, if there is one. Listen to the sentences while reading them and doing the exercise. Or listen without reading and try to make sense of what you grasp. It's also a good way of developing your language intuition.

It's your lesson, your choice. Do what works best for you.

How do I know how I did on the exercises?
I post all the answers here, on a separate blog with only the responses. It's my only blog with ads. Please visit my sponsors (and make sure to browse their websites) to support my work!

How can I be really efficient in my learning?
Write down the sentences, the vocabulary, the grammar points on your French notebook that you carry everywhere, (you have one of those, n'est-ce pas?), your smart phone, or your computer.
Speak: Repeat the sentences, read aloud. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of reading aloud, of talking to yourself. Even if it's not perfect, it's good for you.

Who can use this blog?
Anyone who has a desire to learn French or improve their language skills. This is designed for people who want to have a regular practice, even short. There are different levels: chose your own.
Don't hesitate to do things designed for another level: for the more advanced, it's always good to review basic things. You might learn a thing or two and strengthen your foundations. For the newer students, you can try and read a challenging text or listen to something you don't quite understand. It's all good, don't panic: if it doesn't make sense now, it will at some point. Your brain registers the information. But step back if you are feeling overwhelmed. Step by step is the key.

Are you updating often?
I'm trying! My goal is to post a big sum of original French lessons for every level and every need.

What about © Copyrights?
These are exercises that I created and on which I worked a lot. If you wish to use them (in a non-commercial way, of course), please mention their author and link to my blog. For any question, you may email me: sandrinedeparis (at) rocketmail (dot) com.

Can I ask something? Request a lesson? Comment?
By all means! I love suggestions and feedback.

Sometimes, the print is a little small for me!
If some documents seem too small, click on them: they will appear by themselves and bigger. You can even drag the documents onto your computer, and print them.

Why all these colors for the levels?
The levels have colors, just like the rainbow, or the 7 chakras. I do live in Northern California after all…

*the dog ate my homework!


  1. Good one on Intuition and it helps a lot.

    Karim - Mind Power

  2. Very useful! Thanks from Greece! I'm a teacher of English, by the way, and I came across your blog .. using google key words. See, times are rough, no money for lessons, so, .. here we are! I also like your topics. I want to take the B2 test in May, I'm studying by myself at the moment, if I succeed, it will also be thanks to you and the vocabulary practice you offer.. As to the oral part, I'll find a way, with friends, but as to the writing, I have never written anything serious in french!

  3. Your blog is really informative to learn french language. Everyone should improve their native language and people should take various courses for improving their language. French learner can improve their language skill by taking Language course,learning French grammar and vocabulary books , Practicing french . In this way they can improve wonderful French language .