Le Français #1 part #2 (My first French lesson)

So… I know this post is far too late, but better late than never isn’t it?

I’m just glad I’ve gotten down to it at last. This is part 2 of the first lesson of French that I had from P. It is a continuation from the previous post where I wrote about the pronouns and two main verbs Être and Avoir.

This section should ideally deal with the Vowels (Voyelles) and their sounds. But I realise as I write this post that this is a rather difficult topic since describing sounds can be quite a difficult task.

Anyway the vowels of French are – A, E, I, O, U  and Y

And their sounds are basically that of

La voyelle A E I O U Y
Le son fAther Elephant India Orange glUe universitY
L’exemple L’arbre {larbre} (The tree) l’éléphant {lelefan} (The elphant) Malin {Melan} (Smart/Clever) L’arange {Auranje} (l’Orange) La revue {La review} (The review) Le xylophon {Le gzilofon} (The xylophone)

What is to realise is that there are accents such as

  • Aigu (acute) accent – ´
  • Grave (obtuse) accent – `
  • Circonflexe (carat) accent – ^

that can be added to vowels like “e” to change their sounds in ways that are very difficult to describe in words. I think if I do it, I’d rather do it on a video or at least an audio file. May be another time!

Another way to change the sound of vowels is to combine them. More about this and also about the gender of words in the next post.

Thanks P once again.

See ya folks around!

Le Français #1 part #1 (My first French lesson)

Viva le français! I’ve always wanted to say write that and feel like I have somehow earned the right to.
Well, It’s been 12 years since I last spoke french and yesterday, I started again thanks to P. She came to one TAL Café session and right away agreed to help me with my French. Isn’t that sweet of her? I think all french people are sweet. It’s sad that there are rotten tomatoes everywhere and France has it’s fair share which makes the entire country look snobbish even to the french themselves. For example a friend girl I met once, told me that she hated people from Paris because she felt like they were all snobbish.

Anyway, without further adieu, here’s part #1 of what I learned in class.

First up: Pronoms (Pronouns)
Je (I), Tu (you), Il/Elle/On(he/she/one), Nous (we), Vous (you pl.), Ils/Elles (They).

Next: Deux verbes importants (Two main verbs)
ÊTRE (to be) and AVOIR (to have).

Finally, conjugation of these two verbs with those pronouns

Pronoun Conjugation Example
Je suis Je suis dans la maison. (I am in the house)
Tu es Tu es Indien. (You are Indian)
Il/Elle/On est Il est heureux. (He is happy)
Nous sommes Nous sommes ici. (We are here)
Vous êtes Vous êtes forts. (You are strong)
Ils/Elles sont Ils sont vilains. (They are naughty)


Pronoun Conjugation Example
J’ ai J’ai vingt neuf ans. (I have 29 years [age])
Tu as Tu as beaucoup d’argent. (You have a lot of money)
Il/Elle/On a Elle a de beaux cheveux. (She has beautiful hair)
Nous avons Nous avons la force du nombre. (We have strength in numbers)
Vous avez Vous avez de grandes maisons. (You have big houses)
Ils/Elles ont Elles ont de petites voitures. (They have small cars)

I have used google translate to help me with some of the examples. So I hope I have them all correct and with no silly mistakes. Well I guess P will correct me if I’m wrong anyway.
Thanks for reading. Hope that this helps you on your way to learning French. Watch out for Lesson #1 – Part #2. It’s coming soon.


Techniques to learn a language

This evening at TAL Café, while teaching M and P basic Swedish, something interesting happened. I made a rather well grounded statement. One that has found itself stuck in my mind. One that I found to be rather well thought. I was speaking about methods of learning languages and I came across a thought which has since forced me to read a little about it.

Language learning can be done in many ways. Omniglot suggests, methods such as mind maps or image recall, group interaction, word repetition and softwares. Mindtools on the other hand seems to entirely suggest that the only way to master a language is to use rote learning. Memory techniques such as Linkword method and Roman Room Mnemonic are their suggestions. Then there are bloggers and life hackers and bloggers such as Gabriel Wyner, Charlotte Bowen, Tim Ferriss and Mark Manson who have their set of ideas.

I find that all of them talk about grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. But none of them focus on the way we have naturally learnt languages since our birth. No one gave us a list of 100 common words or a dictionary as kids. I know I know! Everyone will immediately tell me that, we learnt mostly by imitation and repetition. I agree. But aren’t we forgetting the impact of context? We learnt the meaning of most words by context. We were never taught the meaning of most of the words we know in our mother tongues. It came by context. We rationalised them, connected them to circumstance and derived more than meaning from them.

So to you my language learning friends, I completely agree with my friends above and the links that I have posted are all very helpful. But don’t forget to learn from context. It is something that you already know how to. You’ve just not intentionally used that skill in a long time. Dust it off and start and you’ll see that it is the most powerful tool in the shed when it comes to learning languages.

Until next time,



English Song of the Day – #11

Where Is the Love?Black Eyed Peas

TAL Café

English Article of the Day – #11

The Ant and the Grasshopper

Aesop (620–564 BC) Greek fabulist (story teller)

In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content.  An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”

“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present.”  But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.  When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.

Then the Grasshopper knew the Moral of the Story: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

TAL Café

English Word of the Day – #11


verb tr., intr.: 1. To mislead or deceive, especially by a false display of confidence.
noun: 2. An instance of bluffing; also one who bluffs.
adjective: 3. Good-naturedly direct in speech or manner.
noun: 4. A broad, steep cliff or promontory. 5. A grove or clump of trees.
For 1, 2: From Dutch bluffen (to brag). Earliest documented use: 1674.
For 3-5: From obsolete Dutch blaf (flat), or Middle Low German blaff (broad, smooth). Earliest documented use: 1666.

“Answer with authority and they’ll believe the bluff. How many of us love that advertisement where the dad tells the kid that the Great Wall of China was built to keep the rabbits out?”
Karen Hardy; Parents Must Teach, Too; The Canberra Times (Australia); Mar 10, 2012

“Kip Hawley, the man who runs the TSA, is a bluff, amiable fellow who is capable of making a TSA joke. ‘Do you want three ounces of water?’ he asked me.”
Jeffrey Goldberg; The Things He Carried; Atlantic (New York); Nov 2008.

“Record snowfall of more than 16 feet on the bluff has chased moose to the lower elevations.”
Naomi Klouda; Moose Don’t Mix With Dogs, People; Homer Tribune (Alaska); Mar 28, 2012.

TAL Café

English Song of the Day – #10

Sorry, Blame It on MeAkon

Hope you guys like it!

TAL Café