Festive traditions in France & Christmas Vocab List

  • L’Avent – Advent
  • Un ange – angel
  • Une chandelle – candle
  • Une carte de Noël – Christmas card
  • Un chant de Noël – Christmas carol
  • Le jour de Noël – Christmas Day
  • Le réveillon de Noël – Christmas Eve dinner
  • La veille de Noël – Christmas Eve
  • La fête de Noël – Christmas party
  • Un cadeau de Noël – Christmas present
  • L’arbre/Le sapin de Noël – Christmas tree
  • Le père Noël – Father Christmas
  • Un santon – figurine in a Nativity
  • Un jeu – game
  • Un jouet – toy
  • La crèche – manger
  • Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas!
  • La Messe de minuit – midnight Mass
  • Le gui – mistletoe
  • Le jour de l’An – New Year’s Day
  • La Saint-Sylvestre – New Year’s Eve
  • Le réveillon du Nouvel An – New Year’s Eve dinner
  • Un cadeau – present
  • Un renne – reindeer
  • Un ruban – ribbon
  • Un traîneau – sleigh
  • La neige – snow
  • Une boule de neige – snowball
  • Un bonhomme de neige – snowman
  • Une peluche – stuffed animal
  • Noël sous la neige – white Christmas

French children traditionally leave their shoes in front of the fireplace on la veille de Noël (Christmas Eve) before they go to bed. Père Noël (Father Christmas) visits them while they sleep and if they have been good leaves presents in and around the shoes. In northern and eastern France, there is a parallel tradition which celebrates Saint Nicolas on December 6th. Adults traditionally wait until le jour de l’ An (New Year’s Day) to exchange gifts, although, increasingly, families are exchanging gifts on Christmas Day.

Festive traditions An important aspect of Christmas in France is the Nativité (Nativity) with its crèche (manger) and santons (figurines). The latter are often hand-made and passed down through the generations. Mistletoe is hung above the door and is considered to bring for good fortune. Note that it does not have the ‘kissing’ connotations of other countries! The sapin de Noël (Christmas tree) is not as important in France as, for example, in the UK, but it does still form part of the Christmas celebrations. Christmas trees are decorated a few days before Christmas and Père Noël will often leave sweets and treats on its branches in addition to the present in the children’s shoes. Unique to Lyon is the Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights), where every house in the city will place a candle in their windows, producing a spectacular effect. The celebration usually lasts four days, culminating on 8th December.

Le réveillon de Noël The most important Christmas event in France is la Messe de minuit (midnight Mass) followed by the eating of a meal known as the réveillon de Noël (from the verb réveiller, to ‘wake up’ or ‘revive’). Although fewer and fewer French attend midnight Mass, it is still an important part of Christmas for many families. The ré- veillon represents a symbolic awakening to the meaning of Christ’s birth and is one of the most important meals of the year. Traditionally the réveillon is a family affair and the meal is eaten immediately after midnight Mass at home or in a restaurant. The meal varies from region to region, but typically will involve seafood, followed by a cooked bird and the traditional bûche de Noël (Yule log). This cake is made from chocolate and chestnuts and represents the log burned from Christmas Eve until Epiphany in parts of France. The log-burning is itself based on an ancient pagan Gaul tradition of burning a log for the duration of the winter solstice. La Saint-Sylvestre – 1st January French New Year is celebrated with a feast called the réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre.

On New Year’s Day friends and family exchange good wishes and sometimes gifts. The president also uses Saint-Sylvestre to make his annual address to the nation. L’Épiphanie – 6th January The final celebration of the festive season in France is Épiphanie (Epiphany) on 6th January. The tradition on this day revolves around the eating of a special cake known as the galette des Rois (literally ‘cake of the kings’). A small figurine or fève is placed inside the cake. The cake is cut into pieces and distributed by a child, known as le petit roi, or l’enfant soleil. Whoever receives the piece of the cake with the gift inside is declared King or Queen for the day and gets to choose a partner.

en Français

Ala veille de Noël, les petits enfants français laissent traditionnellement leurs chaussures devant la cheminée avant d’aller au lit. Le Père Noël leur rend visite pendant qu’ils dorment et s’ils ont été sages, il laisse des cadeaux dans leurs chaussures. Dans le nord et l’est de la France, il existe une tradition similaire : c’est la célébration de Saint-Nicolas le 6 décembre. Traditionnellement les adultes attendent le jour de l’An pour échanger les cadeaux, bien que les familles le fassent de plus en plus le jour de Noël.

Traditions festives En France, la Nativité est un moment important de Noël avec sa crèche et ses santons souvent faits main et transmis d’une génération à l’autre. Le gui est suspendu au-dessus de la porte afin de porter chance mais sans la tradition du baiser des autres pays! Décoré quelques jours avant Noël, le sapin tient une part importante dans les célébrations mais moins cependant que dans d’autres pays tels que le Royaume Uni. Le Père Noël laisse souvent des friandises sur les branches lorsqu’il dépose les cadeaux dans les chaussures. Célébrée uniquement à Lyon, la Fête des Lumières se tient sur 4 jours, le moment phare prenant place le 8 décembre. Les habitants dé- posent une bougie sur le rebord de leurs fenê- tres, ce qui produit un effet spectaculaire.

Le réveillon de Noël Pour les Français, la messe de minuit suivie d’un dîner appelé «le réveillon de Noël» (du verbe «réveiller») est le moment le plus important de la célébration de Noël. Bien qu’en nombre décroissant, de nombreuses familles se rendent toujours à la messe. Le réveillon permet de revivre symboliquement la naissance de Jésus et c’est l’un des repas primordiaux de l’année. Le réveillon se passe généralement en famille et le repas est consommé juste après la messe de minuit, à la maison ou au restaurant. S’il varie d’une région à l’autre, le menu typique se compose de fruits de mer, d’une volaille rôtie et de la traditionnelle bûche de Noël. A base de chocolat et de noix, le gâteau symbolise une bûche qui se consume de Noël à l’Épiphanie dans certaines régions de France. C’est l’héritage de rites païens qui consistaient à faire brûler une bûche pendant le solstice d’hiver pour garantir une bonne récole. La Saint-Sylvestre – 1er janvier La nouvelle année est fêtée lors du réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre.

Le jour de l’An, familles et amis s’échangent leurs meilleurs vœux et s’offrent parfois des cadeaux. Le président choisit ce jour pour adresser son discours annuel à la nation. L’ Épiphanie – 6 janvier La saison festive se conclut le 6 janvier, lors de la célébration de l’Épiphanie. Les familles et amis se partagent alors une galette des rois. Une fève y est dissimulée et un enfant désigné comme «le petit roi» ou «l’enfant soleil» distribue les parts. Celui qui trouve la fève devient le roi ou la reine d’un jour et doit choisir un partenaire de sexe opposé.

Credit/Source: Sophie Arsac for The Bugle

The Results Are In! The 3 Best Online French Grammar Checkers

You’ve put a lot of sweat and tears into your French…

…but maybe you still flub your grammar sometimes.

Hey, that’s okay.

We all make mistakes.

The good news is, French grammar checkers can rescue you from at least some of those mistakes.

You may think the capabilities of automated checkers are so limited that there is simply no point in bothering.

However, the best ones can actually be really handy: These checkers will flag things like gender errors, failure to use the subjunctive or article issues (like using des instead of de).

And they’ll also check your spelling, of course.

Plus, if you can wait a little longer, there are sites where human beings are willing to graciously fill the role of online grammar checker.

For the purposes of this article, I put all of the major free online grammar checker options to the test, as well as one popular site where human native speakers correct each other’s texts.

My test text was a 450-word description of my apartment for Airbnb; I translated it into French, intentionally including mistakes that are common for beginning and for advanced students of the language, as well as some mistakes common for un-schooled speakers who “pick up” French by speaking it.

And who am I kidding, I also made some nice, fat grammatical errors of theunintentional sort.

For comparison, I submitted my text to a professional, native-speaking French writer and translator who happens to be a friend.

Each grammar checker had its merits as well as flaws. All of them have free options for French learners.

In this post, we’ll look at only the absolute best of the best checkers, whom they’re best for and how to use them.

Check My French! The 3 Best Online French Grammar Checkers

Scribens

This website is pretty plain and the tool is not as well-known as the others, so I was surprised that it won out overall in terms of thoroughness of corrections, ease of use of the interface and clarity of the grammar explanations.

Here’s what you should know about Scribens:

  • It flagged gender problems throughout the text, including where an adjective was not immediately adjacent to the noun it was modifying. For example, it corrected “le chambre principal est petit” to la chambre principale est petite” (the master bedroom is small); other checkers often failed to catch petit.
  • It did not erroneously flag too many proper nouns, like Barcelone(Barcelona), Picasso and Gaudí, which some checkers did.
  • It corrected some more complex issues, like use of the subjunctive, and even had a convenient drop-down box with the corrected subjunctive for you to click on to replace your own silly text. Most others didn’t offer features for such complex types of correction.
  • A great feature for learners and grammar nerds is that it not only provides that drop-down box with the corrected word that you can click on, but also a short grammar explanation within the box, and a link to therègle générale (general rule), a page that provides even more explanation and—important for learners—a few examples.
  • The free version allows you to paste quite a bit of text into a box and check it immediately on the page. There is a premium version for €39.90 that allows you unlimited text and has plugins for browser windows and desktop word processing programs.

This is the best choice for those who are starting out with French and want to have their grammar explanations and the interface in English. It allows you to check a smaller block of text in one go, and did not flag quite as many true mistakes as Scribens, but may still be more useful for you depending on your level and preferences.

Here’s what you should know about BonPatron:

  • It caught some subjunctive issues and other more complex grammar issues.
  • It does not have a drop-down menu that allows you to select the correction; you have to type it yourself. Some learners may find this beneficial, however.
  • The grammar explanations in English were somewhat generalized but quite clear. This is not going to tell you the exact correct answer necessarily, just that, for example, you need a feminine article of some sort.
  • There is a check box to indicate if you are writing in the first-person feminine, so that the tool will check the text accordingly. I tested this, and it seems to work fine.
  • At the bottom of the page, your errors are linked to pages with much longer grammar descriptions in English of French grammar rules that you have violated.

The Human Grammar Checkers at Lang-8

There are a lot of issues with French that no automatic grammar checker is going to catch and make clear to you, especially if you’re not a native speaker.

Written French can be a vast horror, and if you happen to need a lot of guidance with your writing, using any automatic grammar checker can be like putting a Band-Aid over a severed limb.

That’s why it’s great to know about Lang-8, a resource that lets you get your writing corrected by native speakers.

I submitted the same text for correction on Lang-8, and then for karma (and for the site’s point system) corrected some other users’ texts in English. About 24 hours later, I received my correction.

The writer who corrected my text on Lang-8 changed many of my phrasings; some because they were wrong, but also a lot just because she could come up with words that sounded better, or were more standard in a given context.

For example, I wanted to say that there were both “tripots et restaurants chics” (dive restaurants and fancy places) in my lively neighborhood.Tripots apparently sounds awful, though, so she reformulated my phrase to“restaurants du plus populaire à l’ultra-chic.”

There are also cultural issues to consider in cross-cultural writing that, for now, no grammar checker is likely to master. “You shouldn’t call the bedroompetite at all,” she said. “By Parisian standards it’s actually quite large! No French person will be disappointed.”

So you may not be lucky enough to have a French writer friend nearby to check your text, but you can get always get native speakers to correct it at Lang-8.

The Lang-8 correction was not quite as complete as my friend’s, but absolutely far more complete than any of the automatic grammar checkers.

While you never know how well the native speakers on the site know their own language (French is a challenge even for the French), one advantage is that several people may eventually correct your text, so you get various perspectives on what is correct or the best phrasing (although this can be confusing, too).

Lang-8 has a social feature that allows you to friend other users and build a more personal connection, so that you can develop relationships and people to count on as you move forward with your writing. It’s not uncommon to make appointments with other users on Skype to talk through texts, for example.

 

The verdict? If you can understand a French interface and grammar explanations, use Scribens.fr for quick grammar checks. If not, useBonPatron.com, which has good explanations in English.

But, as discussed, all of the automatic options are limited in terms of what they can do to help you write correctly in French, so if you have the time you should make the effort to exchange corrections with someone on Lang-8.comor in real life.

With the tools above, you should be better able to tackle the correction of any French text that you might produce, whether it’s for the pleasure of writing, improving your language skills or more concrete tasks like convincing traveling Francophones to rent out your “normal”-sized room.

 Credit/Source: for FluentU by MOSEHAYWARD

The 10 Best French Movies on Netflix for French Learners

Source:  fluentU.com / written by Elizabeth Cook

In the mood for a cinematic treat?

Many French learners already know that watching movies is one of the best and most pleasurable ways to learn through immersion.

Some are even aware of techniques for using movies to accelerate their learning.

Finding the movies themselves, though?

That can be a hassle!

You have a limited amount of time and don’t want to waste it watching something boring. Even worse, imagine starting a movie only to find that it involves absolutely no French conversation!

FluentU offers fun, authentic French videos specially selected for learners. You can watch these videos instantly and enjoy several features that give you control and flexibility, such as optional subtitles and active learning tools.

But when it comes to feature films, you’re sorta left to fend for yourself. Which can be tough.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best films for French learners that are currently on Netflix.

We’ve considered not only the quality of the movies but also the features included—all in order to give you the best possible learning experience.

All you have to do is sit back and enjoy!

The 10 Best French Movies on Netflix for French Learners

In the mood for a cinematic treat?

Many French learners already know that watching movies is one of the best and most pleasurable ways to learn through immersion.

Some are even aware of techniques for using movies to accelerate their learning.

Finding the movies themselves, though?

That can be a hassle!

You have a limited amount of time and don’t want to waste it watching something boring. Even worse, imagine starting a movie only to find that it involves absolutely no French conversation!

FluentU offers fun, authentic French videos specially selected for learners. You can watch these videos instantly and enjoy several features that give you control and flexibility, such as optional subtitles and active learning tools.

But when it comes to feature films, you’re sorta left to fend for yourself. Which can be tough.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best films for French learners that are currently on Netflix.

We’ve considered not only the quality of the movies but also the features included—all in order to give you the best possible learning experience.

All you have to do is sit back and enjoy!

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

What Makes a French Movie Ideal For Learning1

Before we get into the movies themselves, here’s a look at factors that went into their selection.

Read more of this article HERE

 

Want To Know The Language Of The Future?

Want To Know The Language Of The Future? The Data Suggests It Could Be…French

As published in Forbes.com April 14, 2014:

“For many centuries, France was the official language of culture, and erudition. It was the language of diplomacy and arts. Aristocrats in Imperial Russia spoke French, even amongst themselves, as Tolstoy and many others documented. In short, if you wanted to be educated, you had to speak French.

Things have changed a lot since then. With the decline of France and the rise of the Anglosphere, English is now the world’s lingua franca. But French remains an official language in many international institutions, from the UN to the European Union to the Olympics Committee (founded by a Frenchman), and learning French still retains some cachet.

French may be a beautiful language, but few would argue it’s the most useful, and almost nobody would argue it’s the language of the future. John McWhorter spoke for many when he wrote an immediately viral piece titled, “Let’s Stop Pretending That French Is an Important Language,” attacking New York City’s bilingual education programs.

Here’s the thing: the data suggests that French language just might be the language of the future.

French isn’t mostly spoken by French people, and hasn’t been for a long time now. The language is growing fast, and growing in the fastest-growing areas of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. The latest projection is that French will be spoken by 750 million people by 2050.

A study by investment bank Natixis even suggests that by that time, French could be the most-spoken language in the world, ahead of English and even Mandarin.

The study’s methodology is somewhat questionable, since it counts as French-speakers all the inhabitants of countries where French is an official language, which probably won’t be the case. And almost certainly, as a second language, English will remain the lingua franca (pun intended).

But the point still stands: French is still a fast-growing, global language. The other mooted language of the future, Mandarin, despite being excruciatingly hard to learn for most Westerners, will probably not be that given China’s certain demographic slide. Meanwhile, French will be present on all continents, and particularly predominant in a continent that, by 2050, should be a fast-growing economic powerhouse–Africa.

If you were to pick a language of the future, you could do a lot worse.”

Source/credit:  Forbes.com

 

Language Lundi #2

language lundi #2

(Source credit: French Property News)

###

Answers:

Who am I?: Blanc; Roux; Ducasse

Past Participles: su; ouvert; eu; mis; fait

Faux amis: grape; sensitive; to claim; uninhabited; to attend; disappointment

Odd one out: Pyrénées-Orientales; le parapluie; la confiture

Idioms: a.to be well read; b. to be speechless; c. to be at home; d. to meet someone halfway; e. to be over the moon

Language Lundi #1

On any given Monday, I will post French language exercises of various levels, to help you improve your language learning – bonne chance & stay tuned!

C’est en forgeant qu’on devient forgeron! (Practice makes perfect)

Unscramble the letters to find four verbs:

eanhrtc

sadrne

rotirs

laclieciru

(all answers below)

crossword 2-24-14

Credit: LivingFrance

Answers:

Verbs: chanter, danser, sortir, accueillir

Crossword:

Across: 1-sourd; 4-obeir; 7-geste; 11-taupes; 13-litteraire; 14-essence; 15-magasin; 16-deja; 18-etes; 19-herbace; 21-athee; 22-belge; 24-pluie; 28-sentier; 29-haïr; 30-vent; 32-dejeune; 34-disparu; 36-toutlememe; 37-rasoir; 38-etant; 39-fumer; 40-annee

Down: 2-orage; 3-repassage; 5-bellemere; 6-intime; 8-epais; 9-tyran; 10-peigner; 12-singes; 17-entre; 20-chien; 23-grandpere; 25-livraison; 26-mesurer; 27-briser; 31- devenu; 32-droit; 33-jeton; 35-utile

Versailles – A Word Search

 Find the capitalized names below in the letters box:

Robert de COTTE            Jean-Baptiste LULLY                    Jean RACINE

PLACE D’ARMES            Jules Hardouin-MANSART         RICHELIEU

GRAND CANAL             MARIE ANTOINETTE            Hubert ROBERT

JEU DE PAUME            Cardinal MAZARIN                   TRIANON

MENAGERIE             Mme de MAINTENON                COLBERT

LA FRONDE              Mme de MONTESPAN                 LOUIS

Charles LE BRUN     Mme de POMPADOUR               MOLIERE

André LE NOTRE            François d’ORBAY                  ORANGERIE

Louis LE VAU            François BOUCHER                   MARBRE

Bernard de JUSSIEU

A C E L A N A C D N A R G P Y T
B R I C H E L I E U M J L L J R
E R U O D A P M O P K E L A U E
R D F L R G H E I J N U O C S B
E J E B D A U N V P L D R E S O
I F I E B A N A Q T E E E D I R
L E B R U N W G R X V P H A E N
O G H T C Z Y E E S A A C R U O
M A N S A R T R Y R U U U M X N
M O N K Q P L I V A I M O E W E
S C O T T E R E U C B E B S D T
M O N T E S P A N I Y R I N C N
N M A Z A R I N T N A U O Z B I
M J I E R B R A M E O R H D I A
L K R E R T O N E L F F E G A M
N E T T E N I O T N A E I R A M