Archive for the ‘French Media’ Category

A shout out for a French tutorial site.   Leave a comment

HelloFrench and her youtube site: Learn French with Elisabeth – HelloFrench. The HelloFrench website is the better choice since she does a rundown of news stories. The downside is that she doesn’s use videos, but she does review current events. She also provides the vocabulary.

The excerpts aren’t as hard as the ones you hear on the B2, but they are good for getting used to the news on the radio. RFI or one of the broadcast services is better for more advanced French learners. Given that using the News was one of the techniques used in my intensive french course back in the day, I recommend checking out this site.

I just learned Elisabeth is from Belgium (as is Dylane, French with Dylane). My opinion is that you want to listen to as many different French accents for the DELF. Well, and I did live in Belgium.

J’ai réussi le DELF B2.

“Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma.”

― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Well, now I have the official piece of paper from the French Government attesting that I have achieved the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level of B2 for French. In addition to having spoken it for most of my life: I am now officially recognised as a francophone by an official body: The French Ministry of Education!

What if Terry Gilliam had directed the Harry Potter films?

He could have. I found this out by looking up to see if Jean Rochefort had been in any of the Harry Potter films. He didn’t, but this turned up:

J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series of books, is a fan of Gilliam’s work. Consequently, Gilliam was Rowling’s first choice for the director of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2000. Warner Brothers refused to consider Gilliam as director, instead selecting Chris Columbus for the job. Recently, Gilliam stated in relation to this episode, “I was the perfect guy to do Harry Potter. I remember leaving the meeting, getting in my car, and driving for about two hours along Mulholland Drive just so angry. I mean, Chris Columbus’ versions are terrible. Just dull. Pedestrian.” Gilliam, though rumoured for a day or so to direct Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as per IMDb, has stated that he will never direct any Potter film.

The reason this came up in the search is that Rochefort was supposed to play Don Quixote in Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. That project flopped but was documented in Lost in La Mancha. Somehow these two missed projects joined together to get my alternative history mind going.

Anyone familiar with Gilliam’s work can imagine how cool the Harry Potter films would have been had Terry Gilliam directed them!

The B2 listening comprehension section

This was hard because you hear the excerpt twice. Unlike at home, you can’t go back and replay the track. This is a sample similar to what you will hear when you take the test:

Yes, there are silent bits in there where you will read the questions and then answer them. The invigilator turned on the recording and left the room while we did this section.

Your best bet for preparing is to listen to RFI: especially since one of the clips was from their Sept Milliards de Voisins. Do as many sample clips as you can listen to here: Listen to the podcasts as well:

The ideal would be to work with a francophone who can point out the “phrases” used in French (where words put together get a new meaning: e.g., freiner des quatre fers is to dig one’s heels in). You know what I am talking about if you study French. English does it as well, but not to the extent French does. The phrases can throw you when you get to the questions since the question will be about the figurative meaning of the passage.

Listen to as much French as you can and do the clips is the best advice for this section. You may want to write summaries of what you listened to as well. The crux of this test is how much did you understand the subject of the clip.

General thoughts on the DELF B2:

I like to think I passed the test, but I am prepared to take it again if I didn’t. That said, what do I think was the most useful? What would I do differently? What strategies would I advise someone who wants to take the Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française or the Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française to use?

First off, the best thing is to either grow up speaking French, or spend some time in France, or other francophone region, living the language for 3-6 months. Better yet, a year using French as much as possible with francophones. It’s not really useful doing this unless the people you are interacting with are native speakers. There are linguistic nuances which just taking a course won’t give you.

That’s probably not an option if you are reading this. The next best thing is to listen and to watch French media. RFI ( is a really good choice since most of the listing segments came from them. You will have a bit of a leg up, especially if you heard the segment in question. I’ll take more about the different parts of the test in subsequent posts.

Reading is also helpful for learning orthographie. But it’s better to get a good handle on spoken French since the reading and speaking parts were fairly easy. Speaking was the easiest, but it helped to have listened to the clips. That said, there are a few site run by the French Government and media to help you prepare for the test.

You definitely want to take the test and can get old copies of the test here: The new format test is the most useful since that was pretty much what the test was like. The more I look at those, the more I think I did all right.

The two places you will have the most control over are the speaking and writing sections. The reading and listening sections are pretty much multiple guess on spoken and written segments. Again, taking the tests are the most helpful. I think working on the listening “comprehension” is the more useful of the two.

I’m not sure how useful most of the pass the DELF books are, other than the ones that prep you for the writing part. It really is go in with a bunch of “phrases tresors” and fill in the holes. “Phrase tresor” was a term used at Chateau Ceran for phrases that would prove useful in learning French. In this case, they are terms that are useful for making an argument. More on that when I talk about the writing part.

The bottom line is that unless you are a francophone, or can spend intensive time with some before the exam, you will need to study. But even francophones can have some problems with these tests because of how the questions are written (take the sample course to see). I’m planning on doing a few posts on the test. One for each of the four segments, one for prep material, study hints, and a final summary. I’m not sure which of the four I should start with: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking, or writing. In a way reading and listening overlap as do speaking and writing. There are some differences.

Quoi ce bordel, Manny ????

Emmanuel Macron praises OrelSan perhaps a bit more than is deserved

You can find the words here / Vous pouvez trouver les paroles ici

Qu’est-ce qui se passe , Emmanuel ? Premièrement, vous avez changé les couleurs du drapeau. Ensuite, vous mettez Josephine Baker au Panthéon. Maintenant, vous faites l’éloge d’un rappeur. D’accord, Je devrais écouter ce cd, mais j’ai déjà entendu ses autres travaux.

Je n’en suis pas sûr que je le décrirais comme un sociologue. Oui, je suis en accord avec ses exprimaient concepts car je suis plus un pessimiste qu’un optimiste a propos de la situation mondiale. Pour autant, l’expression d’idées dans une chanson fait-il de quelqu’un un sociologue ? Ne faudrait-il pas une analyse plus poussée pour attribuer des qualités académiques à cette chanson ? De plus, le fait d’être d’accord avec ce que dit quelqu’un ne le rend pas correct. On ne fait que partager une opinion : vraie ou fausse. Il s’agit un besoin de quelque chose en plus pour faciliter la résolution du problème au-dela un liste des complaintes .

Le métier de politicien consiste à trouver et à mettre en œuvre des solutions aux problèmes. On peut exprimer un accord avec les idées des chanteurs et chanteuses néanmoins on doit travailler sur les problèmes sociale. La reconnaissance sans action n’a aucun sens pour la société.

OK, I agree with the sentiments expressed in this song. They apply both to France and the US, but as I say: it’s one thing to make a list of complaints. It’s a different thing to bring about change.

Someone should do an English version for the US.

Actualités de Brexit

Now, I know where my news about Brexit will come from in the most part: Le Figaro.

Now I’m really surprised that I never made anything of my degree in European Legal Studies. Toss in my thesis for my JD dealt with fisheries. Maybe I should have asked the Greenpeace chief in Brussels for a job instead of hoping for big bucks in the world of business when I found out he was a neighbour (and all round nice guy).

Exam anxiety

OK, I test in at either advanced intermediate (B2) or advanced (C1) CEFRA (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level depending on the site doing the testing. I’ve been told the grammar on the French B2 is stuff that is pretty easy. Still, I am back at Kwiziq taking their tests, but I think they are like a US public school which passes you to the next level whether or not you are ready for it. Also, Kwiziq is really more about test taking than actual knowledge.

I have been reading the following French newspapers for the last year or so: Le Monde, Liberation, and L’Obs. They are all considered advanced by this website. I decided to take a peek at L’Express which they say is intermediate in skill level.

Compared to this Dickensian sentence from Le Monde

Il aura fallu près de dix années de mobilisation, scandées d’annonces aussitôt suivies de piteux démentis, mais le résultat est là : à Venise, depuis le 1er août, les bateaux de croisière de plus de 25 000 tonnesn’ont plus le droit d’emprunter au ralenti le canal de la Giudecca pour passer devant la place Saint-Marc, offrant aux croisiéristes un point de vue unique au monde – et aux habitants de la ville l’impression désolante d’être frôlés par des monstres à l’effrayante démesure. Jusque-là, ce parcours pouvait être emprunté par des navires allant jusqu’à 110 000 tonnes.

The amusing thing is that the three I read are considered Lefty. Liberation was “founded in Paris by Jean-Paul Sartre and Serge July in 1973 in the wake of the protest movements of May 1968. Initially positioned on the extreme-left of France’s political spectrum, the editorial line evolved towards a more centre-left stance at the end of the 1970s.” L’Express is conservative.

Go figure.

See also:

Translation of above:

It took almost ten years of mobilisation, scandalised by announcements immediately followed by pitiful denials, but the result is there: in Venice, since 1 August, cruise ships of more than 25,000 tonnes have no longer been allowed to use the Giudecca Canal to pass in front of Saint Mark’s Square, offering cruise passengers a unique viewpoint in the world – and the inhabitants of the city the distressing impression of being brushed by monsters of frightening excess. Until now, this route could be used by ships of up to 110,000 tonnes.