5 Francophone Songs I Can’t Get Out of My Head (and don’t want to!)

As I mosey around the beautiful country of Argentina, I’m trying to listen to a mix of Spanish and French language songs. I’m not about to let those French words slip away. Here are five of my favorites as of late.

Les Hay Babies | Fil de Téléphone

Sticks in my head. And keeps me happy while it’s there. I’m hoping that some of their cool rubs off on me by listening to them.

Les Colocs | Juste Une P’tite Nuite

Okay, it’s a bit of an oldie, but I love the harmonica. I must keep practicing.

Stromae | Papaoutai

We are late to the game on this guy, but finally got around to listening and watching his videos. Even the husband requests this song. And I might try copying the dance moves.

Lisa LeBlanc | Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la marde

This has also been on my iPod for a good, long time. Somehow, even though it’s a song about how life’s a bit, ahem, $hitty, I always have fun singing along.

And finally…

Karim Ouellett | Marie-Jo

Here’s another one that even the husband-who-doesn’t-understand-French likes to listen to. Also, Karim Ouellet was the first Francophone artist I saw in concert, so I have a soft spot.

That’s what I’m listening to lately. I’m not exactly on the bleeding edge of music, but when I find something I like, I like to put it on repeat and let those words sink into my vocabulary while singing along.

French speakers and learners, what else should I be listening to?

Bonjour d’Argentine, mes amis !

quilmes ruins, argentina

Want more Francophone songs/artists? Check out my post about 5 Quebec women singers who I like better than Celine Dion.

Like This? Watch That! | A Quick Guide to Quebec Television

blog reading, at computer

blog reading, at computerAhh, the hours I’ve spent watching television in Quebec.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for such a long time. When I first learned that I was moving to Quebec (and then still when I got here obviously), I wanted to know what local shows would be good to watch. While I might not have been understanding anything more complicated than Bananas in Pyjamas, I still wanted a show that I could get invested in. Something that seemed interesting to watch. I got to googling and found a list of the “most-watched shows” in Quebec. This gave me a list with a couple of the regular morning talk shows, mixed in with some really outdated examples. I’m sure there probably are newer and more helpful lists out there, but what I really wanted, was for someone to say, “Oh, you like watching Orange is the New Black? Then you will love Unité 9.” This list, to the best of my television-watching abilities, is that list.

Many Quebecois television shows have English shows that bear a resemblance. No, there are not exact equivalents. Sometimes, I really thought a Quebec show deserved to be mentioned, but the English-speaking equivalent is a bit of stretch. I’m not trying to say they are the same or had the same influence. I’m just trying to say that if you liked one, you might like the other. It’s a good place to start if you’re trying to find a show that interests you.

Another thing that I feel ought to be mentioned is that Quebecois television is not only different because it’s in French. Many of your favorite English dramas can be found dubbed over in French. This is great from time to time. I’ve certainly watched a few 2-4pm Lifetime movies on Channel 5 between classes. You’ll still pick up some vocabulary and expressions, but you’ll miss out on some of the cultural aspects that shows made in Quebec will provide. Oh, yeah, you’re more likely to hear the “f-word,” which isn’t really considered that strong in French.

One last point. I am not claiming this list is exhaustive. It isn’t. It couldn’t be. This list is a result of the knowledge I’ve picked up in the last year and a half. I’m sharing it in hopes that it will help someone else out. If anyone has suggestions to add, please feel free to send my way. I’ll edit as suggestions come in.

FInally, my code for recommendations:

  • *I watched it often and enjoyed it
  • **I loved it and highly, highly recommend it
  • ***It was a guilty pleasure. Therefore, I liked it, but don’t you dare judge me.

Dramas

  1. NYPD Blue, The Wire–>19-2** This has also been remade into an English language version. I’m partial to the French, because I got to know the characters. This series is very, very well-made and widely acclaimed.
  2. Friday Night Lights–>Les Béliers I didn’t actually watch this, so can’t recommend it, but if you want to follow a football team, this is for you.
  3. How I Met Your Mother–>Tu m’aimes-tu ?** There’s only one season, sadly. This rivals the top spot as my favorite Quebecois series. How I met your mother might not exactly be a drama, but both follow 20 and 30-somethings in a quest for love.
  4. Gray’s Anatomy–>Trauma, Médecins de Combat Attractive doctors saving lives. La Presse has an article discussing the Trauma’s exportation to the US.
  5. Orange is the New Black–> Unité 9** The Quebec series began before the Netflix series, actually. Both feature women inmates. I really enjoyed the first season of this. Season 2 was less intriguing, but I still made a point to catch up on every episode.
  6. Sex and the City–>La Galère*** There’s a lot less Manhattan and a lot less glam here. That said, you’ve still got a neurotic writer who is constantly surrounded with her three best gal pals.
  7. Law & Order–>Toute La Verité Get your legal drama fix here.

Food on TV

  1. Top Chef–>Les Chefs
  2. Come Dine With Me–> Un Souper Presque Parfait*** People (usually with a wide range of personalities) cook or each other and invite them over to their homes. Each person rates the others’ meals.
  3. PBS’s Test Kitchen–>L’Epicerie** Very useful, practical cooking knowledge in most cases.
  4. Parts Unknown, but with a less caustic host–>À la Di Stasio** The likeable host tours Montreal, Quebec and the planet while eating great food.
  5. Rachel Ray, Guy Fieri, etc.–>Ricardo* Ricardo is the chef to know. My students and friends always mention his recipes and cookbook. His program follows the typical invite-a-guest-to-cook-a-nice-meal-with-you-in-a-neat-half-hour pattern.

Comedy

  1. The Simpsons–>The Simpsons** The premises of the episodes will be the same, as well as the jokes that translate. But they do a great job of adding in regional jokes and references. (The characters can be difficult to understand for newbies).
  2. SNL–>SNL Quebec SNL Quebec is just starting. Last I knew, it was produced on a monthly basis as a trial. The show format was exactly the same, and the sketches were of a similar style. Expect to hear anglophone accents exaggerated. (I would maybe find it funny if the anglophone accent wasn’t actually easier to understand for me).
  3. Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report–>Infoman* THe host reports the news of the week in a satirical fashion. Many of my students really enjoyed this as well.
  4. The Middle, Everybody Loves Raymond–>Les Parents** Witty family show for all ages.
  5. Portlandia–>Les Bobos** Sooo good. This might be favorite of all of them. And I probably only caught 2/3 of the jokes (they speak quickly for me). Portlandia’s humor and themes meet Montreal’s Plateau residents.
  6. If SNL happened once a year–>Bye Bye** The New Year’s Eve program with great comedy sketches.
  7. Fargo (the TV Series), Dexter–>Série Noire* Even the husband, who couldn’t understand more than a few words, liked this show. I guess he could just sense the clever, dark humor. Where you think the show won’t go, it goes.
  8. Modern Family–>La Vie Parfaite A quirky sitcom about a blended family.

Reality TV

  1. Shark Tank–>Dans L’Oeil du Dragon Almost exactly the same concept.
  2. Mythbusters–>Les Stupéfiants Almost exactly the same concept.
  3. Who Do You Think You Are–>Qui êtes-vous ?* You get to learn about celebrities and the history of Quebec at the same time. Well done equivalent.
  4. My Strange Addiction–>Les Accros I can’t watch this stuff. Gives me the willies.
  5. Judge Judy–>L’Arbitre Exactly the same premise. And the same type of sass you expect.
  6. Real World meets Survivor–>Occupation Double I have never actually watched it, but people make references to it from time to time.

News and Documentaries

  1. Frontline–>Enquête** Take the time to look at a few news stories a bit more in-depth than the nightly news can.
  2. General Nightly News–>Téléjournal This is as you’d expect.

Home and Lifestyle Shows

  1. Design on a Dime–>Decore Ta Vie This is an old standby. Everyone I’ve asked here seems to know it.
  2. Cribs–>Design V.I.P.* Okay, not exactly the same thing. But there is a focus on interior design and you get to see parts of celebrity homes. With Design V.I.P., there is renovation on one part of a celebrity’s home.
  3. What Not to Wear–>Notre garde-robe des rêves

Children’s and Teens’ Shows

  1. Sesame Street–>Passe-Partout People actually asked me if I was from Quebec because I made mention of this childhood staple (surely, it wasn’t because of my accent).
  2. Saved by the Bell–>Watatatow Okay, this one is probably a stretch. But how I feel about Saved by the Bell defining my generation is how many people of my age feel about this show.
  3. I’m brainstorming to add more here…

Games Shows

  1. Cash Cab–>Taxi Payant 
  2. Family Feud–>La Guerre des Clans*** I never watched Family Feud. I have no idea why I always seemed to end up watching La Guerre des Clans here.
  3. Match Game–>L’Union fait de la Force Good for learning vocabulary along the way.

Talk Television

  1. Good Morning America/The Today Show–>Alors, On Jase ! or
  2. Jimmy Fallon/David Letterman–>En Mode Salvail* or Penelope McQuade
  3. Hardball (but not all politics)/Bill Maher–>Tout le Monde en Parle The name of this show is fitting. Everyone really does seem to be talking about it. The host, Guy A. LePage, hosts guests to discuss a wide range of timely topics (not just politics). This could be celebrities or people in the middle of their fifteen minutes of fame.

 

Le Vocabulaire de la Ferme | Vocabulary and Resources for French Learners

vocabdelaferme

In the past two months, I’ve been on two farm tours (Lufa Farms here and Ferme le Crépuscule here). And then I explained to conversations partners and co-workers what I’d been up to. There were quite a few words that I felt comfortable using, such as ferme, pesticides, chevalbiologique, boucherie, and champs. Easy peasy.

sheep

But then there were some words that I needed to review. For example, for an entire day I went around talking about the poulains that lived in the poulailler, or the foals that lived in the chicken coop. Thankfully, Alex helped me out and corrected me.  I haven’t actually had to use the word poulailler for over a year, since a friend invited me to her in-laws’ place about an hour and a half from Montreal. I decided it might be time for me to beef up (pun intended, as usual) and review my farm-related vocab a bit, especially since I’ll be spending my July at my parents’ farm, the beginning of August at my in-laws’ ranch, and a bit of time this fall visiting agricultural sites and farms. Here’s the list I’ve been quizzing myself on.

French Farm Vocabulary

french farm vocab

Also, be sure to remember that it’s agricole, not agricultural. This one I remember, because my students always try getting away with using the agricole in English.

More Farm Resources in French

If you’re looking to review a bit more or see some of these things in context, check out some of the links below.

1. I love using the Ikonet Visual Dictionary. Here’s a screenshot of the images it provides. There is also audio provided.

Taken from http://www.ikonet.com/fr/ledictionnairevisuel/alimentation-et-cuisine/alimentation/ferme.php
Taken from http://www.ikonet.com/fr/ledictionnairevisuel/alimentation-et-cuisine/alimentation/ferme.php

2. If we were sticking around Montreal, I would check out Montreal’s Portes Ouvertes Sur les Fermes du Québec in September. The website’s got a nice video to watch for a bit of listening practice. (She speaks nice and slowly!)

3. Also, for a quick read and a lovely group of photos on Daylesford Farm in England, take a quick look at this Papilles et Pupilles blog recap.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Bon pratique, mes amis !

So Much French, So Little Time | Our French Learner’s Resource Guide

Why, yes, I do speak a bit.
Why, yes, I do speak a bit.

I’m so excited you’re learning French! Really, I mean it. The more people I know who speak it, the more opportunities I have to speak it, too!

This is my ultimate resource list of resources. It’s posted here as much for me as it is for others. I like having a nice list of [Internet and IRL] places or resources that have helped me in my quest to understand and properly use the language of Molière. All listed items are things I actually used and found especially helpful (though I’ve used many more along the way!) I’m always open to other suggestions!

For starters

Mango Languages: Note that you might already have free access through your local library! Mango languages teaches you basic conversations in French (also has a Canadian French option). There is also a little bit of context provided for the conservations in English.

DuoLingo is a very similar option to Mango Languages, but is free for everyone. You’ll be able to learn vocabulary, grammar, and even be quizzed into recalling it. If you choose, it will even evaluate your pronunciation. (I’m listed as LeMoine, feel free to add me!)

Coffeebreak French podcasts: I loved this when I started learning. It provides short, digestible key vocabulary in context. The basic lessons/podcasts are free, but longer lessons or written materials can be purchased. MOSTLY FREE

The Ikonet French Visual Dictionary: I used this often to practice up on vocab while actually seeing it.

the rest of l’histoire French/English vocabulary lists: Please let me know if you find these useful or if you have suggestions for new topics 🙂

Linguee is a great internet service that finds bilingual sites using the words you want to search so you can see them used in context.

Grammar exercises

  • About French: I think I’m developing a girl-crush on Laura K. Lawless.  I Google my French need, and there she is. In all seriousness, this has a number of level evaluations, grammar explanations, quizzes, vocab lists, and oral comprehension exercises. FREE
  • Bonjour de France: A free and varied website, offering a FLE resources, exercises, links to recommendations, and more much in an up-to-date, easy-on-the-eyes format, all the while placing skills within the appropriate level. FREE
  • Le Point du Fle: Similar amount of resources as About French in my opinion, but better grammar exercises. Recommended by one of my French instructors for practice before exams.  FREE
  • Languageguide.org: Great vocab lists and diagrams, with options of quizzes. Also has grammar section and small section of readings. FREE

Finding real humans

  • Conversation Exchange | When I first moved to Montreal, this website was a godsend. I can’t even count how many conversation meet ups that I had as a result of signing up. It’s a worldwide site, but some cities have much more active groups than others.
  • For those of you in Montreal, I highly recommend Friends of the Grande Bibliotheque’s Conversation Groups. There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, and they’re so nice that they’ll let you take all three if you start at beginner. These are great not only for practicing language, but the instructors that I had did a great job of introducing Quebecois culture.
  • Meetup.com | Check the Meetup site for options in your city. Vancouver has weekly meet ups that I definitely plan to take advantage of.
  • Check out italki French instructors and/or people looking to exchange. For a review of italki, check out the Irish Polyglot’s review.

Access to authentic language material

  • Tou.tv | You’ll have to create an account to access many things, but it’s still free. Here you’ll be able to browse many Quebecois television programs. (Use the Hola browser plug-in and set it to Canada for better access).
  • NETFLIX | If you’ve got Netflix, take advantage of your subscription and make use of those foreign language sections.
  • Youtube.com | Whether it be wrong or right, you can find a lot of full-length French-language movies on Youtube. Search for film complet and see what you come up with.
  • SBS French film database | For oodles of free and legal-to-watch French-language films.
  • Newspapers: I read La Presse from Montreal at least once a week. The iPad application/version is amazing and once you download an issue, you’re free to browse it offline (it’s free!). I occasionally browse Le Monde from Paris as well.
  • The Internet Children’s Digital Library: Browse through 56 French-language children’s books for free whenever you want. No need to sign up.
  • The Boob Tube: If you’ve got a television and happen to be in Quebec, you’ve got some great options available on basic television.

Helpful/Fun blogs to follow

  • The French Truly Blog: This Seattle-based French language and culture instructor maintains a super cute, super fun blog. The first time I stumbled upon the blog, I found myself scribbling away notes of oodles of things I wanted to look up. Someday soon, I might just mosey south of the Canadian border to attend one of her French culture events.
  • Le blog du frenchteacher: French instructor posts about once a week or so, on a variety of topics. Articles are typically easy for beginner students. FREE
  • OffQc/Quebec French Guide: Blog focusing on Quebec French/slang. Provides transcriptions of Quebecois commercials, television clips, etc.
  • Bringing Up Baby Bilingual: Sarah does a nice job of showing how French is incorporated into her family’s everyday lives.
  • Les Boulets à Montréal: Never met these folks, but sure do find their blog to be witty.

Other people’s lists of French resources

No freakin’ way was I the first person to put up a list of French resources. Many librarians (wow, librarians are great people!) have created LibGuides (resource guides) and made them available online.

Here’s a French Libguide from Brown. Here’s another (better) one from the University of Newcastle.

The Most Helpful General Language Learning Blogs

blog reading, at computer

I might spend more time than most browsing blogs on a daily basis. Blogs of all kinds. Thank God for RSS and Feedly, right?

blog reading, at computer

But they can be so darn helpful. Blogs taught me how to cook, blogs have inspired me to dabble in yoga, run a half-marathon, and I’ve even made friends thanks to them. Through my efforts to learn a second language, I stumbled across oodles of language learning blogs. Many are focused specifically on one language, and can be of great help, but there’s also a world of blogs that are meant to encourage and inspire you to learn any language at all. Whenever I feel like giving up or feel stuck, I take a stroll around the Interwebs to gain some new perspective. These are the blogs have helped me along the way.

  • Everyday Language Learner: This blog is my personal favorite, although the posts have seemed to slow lately. (It might be my favorite because the blogger comes to us from good ol’ SoDak!) There is a concise emphasis on learning your target language, not becoming an all-knowing polyglot. He provides very practical and pragmatic information.
  • A Polyglot Dream: Luca, a polyglot, learned languages without necessarily being taught and uses his blog to focus on learning languages instead of traditional teaching methods. There are great articles about how to choose which accent to mimic, how Quebec French is different from standard French,  stories from guest posters on how they’ve learned a language, etc. This is my number 2 fave.
  • Fluent in 3 months: This is probably the most popular among language learning blogs of this niche. Benny speaks something like 8 languages at a conversational level, has spent the last ten years traveling, and just released a book. I have to be honest, in the beginning, the author of this blog got on my nerves a bit. He’s can be a bit blunt; some might say too much so.  And while I wish I would have achieved fluency in three months of study, it didn’t happen for me. Still, he writes/creates some really inspiring and spot-on content as far as language learning is concerned. Of the suck-it-up kind. The guest bloggers he invites also post great reads.
  • Speaking Fluently: Hyperpolyglot/language consultant sharing tips, videos, and generally inspiring stories, while not making you feel bad for being where you are at. I like his focus (which comes across as very sincere) on using a foreign language for opportunities, not for coming across as flashy and impressive. (Trust me, it doesn’t make me feel impressive most of the time…usually humbled!)

As usual, I know there are many other blogs out there that I’m missing. If you happen to know of a blog that is helpful or inspiring for those trying to learn a language, I’m all ears keyboard. Happy blog browsing!