Groupetude Newsletter: week 17

Weekly English Fix

Back to school

Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

By Klaudyna Piatek April 26th, 2021

Vacation’s over kids! Time to go back to school, and back to a normal working week for mom and dad. It’s eerily quiet now in the flat, apart from the dog barking at random I-don’t-know-whats. 

As we steer towards the end of April, stay tuned to Groupetude to find out about our Facebook Lives throughout the month of May! We’re going all out, twice a week, with tips and tricks and more to help you learn. 

Also, don’t forget to join us on Thursday evenings for our Cooking Hour in French, where we cook and chat and are generally jolly! These workshops are absolutely free and provide precious practice. 

So don’t forget to book a spot, we’re limited to 10 people per workshop so that it doesn’t get too crowded and everyone ha a chance to speak! 


THIS WEEK’S

TOP STORIES

Bottoms up! Five things to know about proposing a toast in France

https://www.thelocal.fr/20210416/bottoms-up-five-things-to-know-about-proposing-a-toast-in-france/

If you want to fit into French society, you’ve got to frequent the apéro whenever you’re invited. Or, whenever you invite! And what’s important during an apéro? The toast! 

Oscars 2021: Full list of winners at the Academy Awards

https://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/oscars-2021-full-list-of-winners-at-the-academy-awards-1.6001854

Wondering what to watch this week? How about one of the winners? The list does seem to be at least a little bit more diverse this year. 


THIS WEEK’S

TOP TIPS

Long Term Improvement

Join a bookclub! I’ve just started one in Aix en Provence, where I live. We’ve come up with a list of books, now it’s time to choose one and set a date to meet! It’s hard getting started on a book in a foreign language, so one way to get around that is by teaming up with others. Go on, give it a shot! 

Vocabulary

Read the dictionary. Yeah, you read that right! Sometimes it’s fun, though I don’t mean from cover to cover! Looking up words in the target language itself is useful because you learn even more words through the definitions. Try it, it can’t hurt, right?

Grammar Spot

Write in your target language. Keep a diary, or write short notes or text messages to your friends. If you do it on the computer, you’ll get help from spell check! This totally helps me remember to add the extra “e” on a feminine French word. 


Ok, do you have any questions? Drop me line, I’ll get back to you ASAP! 

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Groupetude SARL

21 AV Jean Giono

13090, Aix en Provence

Quick French Tips

Quick and easy tips to "get" French grammar!

Hey everybody, so I know that some French grammar can be super elusive. Well, I’d like to help with that!

Here is our very first Quick French Tips post. If you have questions about particular aspects of French grammar, be sure to drop us a line and we’ll be back with a tip!

For today’s tip: y means there. Now, the « y » in French is rather versatile, so this isn’t the only way to use it, but it’s a good place to start!

So if you want to say you are going somewhere in French, and use a pronoun, then use « y ». Let’s have one more example:

  • If you want to say, « We went there for her birthday last time. » Then in French this becomes, « Nous y sommes allés pour son anniversaire la dernière fois. »

Does that make sense? Let me know if you need more help or examples!

My top tips for learning French and overcoming the dread of using what you already know!

Bonjour!

Are you frustrated, because French (and sometimes France) is frustrating?

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the Riviera

I am too sometimes, though a little less often now. What mostly frustrates me now is my terrible memory for all the special terms employed in French administration. And believe me, if you think there are a lot when you just come here to stay for a few months, wait until you open your own business!

But, before I got to this point, there was a very looooong journey.

Here are some things that helped me improve, and feel better. These aren’t in any specific order, and should be taken all together, if you only do one of them, chances are that it won’t take you very far!

  1. Talk to your neighbors. I know that often, French people seem a bit cold and suspicious of foreigners, but if you smile at them nicely and try to talk to them, they will usually be very happy to talk to you too! Then they’ll ask you lots of questions and you’ll have a neighbor to chat to every once in a while. It’s great practice! Of course, these are questions you will have answered a million times, but, the more you practice them, the better you’ll get!
  2. Frequent the local shops and once again, chat to the proprietors. Many of them will love the chance to speak to new people and although they will probably try to practice their English, if you tell them you are trying to learn French, they will be over the moon and more than willing to help!
  3. Sign up for a local activity, any normal local activity. It has to be French though, forget expat groups, you won’t learn French that way. Expat groups are great when you’re homesick and you need people to chat to to get away from learning. But, if you sign up to let’s say, a local yoga studio and get talking to the other members, you will quickly make French friends and progress much more. When I signed up to a theatre group in Nice, the members and teacher were all so lovely and supportive.
  4. Don’t expect to make friends too fast. As I mentioned in my first point, the French can be a suspicious bunch sometimes. Plus, they already have their friend groups and busy lives, so the best thing to do is to stick to it. If you have young kids, take them to the local playground after school. It may take some time, but eventually, the other parents will start saying hello to you and then having entire conversations with you. Most young parents have at least rudimentary English as well, so you should be able to communicate even when you can’t find your words.
  5. Again, for the youngish parents, if you have time, volunteer at the parents’ association for your kids’ school. If your kids are at a private bilingual school, then sign them up for extra curriculars outside of the private school network so that you can chit chat to other parents in French while you wait around for the activities to end.
  6. Read! Go to the bookstore, buy a book you’re sure you’ll like, and read it. It will be really hard at first, but you’ll get there in the end. Who cares if you don’t understand everything, that won’t kill you, just keep going and little by little it’ll start to sink in.
  7. Watch stuff in French. Arte is great, so is France 5, there is a great show called Echappées Belles about travelling that you can watch without needing to catch every single word.
  8. This probably shouldn’t be all the way down here, but: take a course! Sign up for a French course. The best ones will be those where you have contact with your teacher several times a week. Also, prefer groups to individual lessons, they’re better because you really learn how to converse in French with other people. Plus, you get to meet others who are in the same boat so you’ll feel less lonely.
I visited the observatory in Nice with a friend I met in my local theatre group. My French was ok at the time, but definitely not fluent!

Okay, I think I’m out of ideas for now. In any case, you probably won’t do all of the above, but you should try. The French course is important because it will be easier to figure out the language with a competent teacher and peers to communicate with. The chit chats with neighbors and locals are important because you can get practice that way, and eventually, get to know your community.

Good luck everyone and if you have questions, drop me a line!

Also, if you just need a chat because you’re feeling lonely, get in touch through Facebook or Instagram!

Grammar Mondays: adjectives 2

Did you notice, also, how the nationality always comes right before the noun? So, the order here would be: adjective, color adjective, nationality, noun.

Example: The old blue book. Or, a black French bulldog.

Of course, don’t worry if you mix some of these up, people will still undersand you, and the point is to be understood. The main thing to remember, really, is to keep nationalities right next to the noun. Example: a tall Polish man.

Now it’s your turn to try. Look around you and write a paragraph describing what you see. That could mean: describing the room you are in, the view from your window, or the person sitting next to you at the office. The best way to improve is to practice a specific skill until you get it right. So if that skill is descriptive writing, then you must describe things as well as you can, then go back and edit. Ask someone who has already mastered the skill to give you feedback, then edit again, etc.

Good luck. If you have any questions, let me know, I’m here to help!

Newsletter: week 9

Weekly English Fix

This week: Brownie Bonanza

Photo by Klaudyna Piatek

By Klaudyna Piatek March 2, 2021

Welcome everyone to this, the week before we open officially! Our very first event: the Brownie Bonanza. Join our baking workshop and learn how to make brownies for free! You can easily sign up by clicking on the link: https://groupetude.com/event/brownie-bonanza/ and filling in our sign-up form. 

This first week of March is proving to be a little unnerving due to Covid uncertainty. Nobody really knows what the government has planned, and this does nothing to help our collective anxiety. However, here is one way in which we can try to counter this. 

Hiking! My husband and I have discovered hiking with our 4 year old son. Of course, we don’t climb to the highest heights, but our kiddo has surprised us by being quite resilient and happy and even excited to go on our weekly hike. This way we not only enjoy the outdoors, but we’ve been able to see what our lovely region has to offer. Highly recommended to help with cabin fever. So, have a look around where you live, even a nice walk can do so much good! 

THIS WEEK’S TOP STORIES

10 virtual tours of spectacular buildings around the world

Phoebe Taplin

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/mar/02/10-virtual-tours-spectacular-buildings-around-world-vr

If you have the travel bug without the possibility of travel, check out these virtual tours. The English level in this article is perhaps a bit difficult, but remember, the point is not to understand everything, the point is to practice and get used to the language. So don’t sweat it if you miss even 50% of the meaning, the point is to immerse yourself! 

Documenting emperor penguins in Antarctica

https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-55857380

This is a beautiful story if you like nature. This photographer spent two winters alongside a colony of emperor penguins; the link will take you to the BBC article where some of his photos are documented. It’s worth checking out, if only for the pictures!

THIS WEEK’S TOP TIPS

Long Term Improvement

Download an English news app on your phone and make a vow to read at least one article everyday. I promise, this will not only improve your reading, but also your vocabulary and your general ease in the language! 

Some examples: BBC, The Guardian, The Observer, The Times, The Huff Post

Vocabulary

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary has a Word of the Day; follow it! Make it your goal to use your new word at least once that day. If you don’t have anyone to speak to in English, then write a diary entry or join a Facebook English learner’s group and use it there! 

Grammar Spot

Did you know that adjectives in English are always invariable and always go in front of the noun? If you have trouble assimilating this, try to practice by looking around you and describing what you see. If you practice a little everyday, you’ll be a pro in no time! 

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GroupEtude SARL

Grammar Monday: adjectives 1

I still sometimes struggle with adjectives in French, because they change. You have to know the gender of the noun, adjust for plurals, etc.; that confuses me, or, even when it doesn’t, sometimes I simply forget!

In English, adjectives are pretty simple. They never change! No matter what you pair it with, your adjective will always be the same. For example: your old shoe, and, your old shoes. There may be more than one shoe, that’s ok, it has no effect on the adjective.

Aldo, adjectives go in front of the noun. For example: a happy face.

There you go! More on this again next week, when we’ll deal with multiple adjectives to describe one thing.

L’astuce FLE de la semaine: à ou en ? Quelle préposition pour quel moyen de transport?

orange van die cast model on pavement
Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on Pexels.com

à vélo ou en vélo?
Quelle préposition utiliser pour les moyens de transports? 

Pour introduire le nom, on emploie les prépositions « à » ou « en ». Voici quand les utiliser correctement:

  • Quand le moyen de transport est un véhicule dans lequel on peut entrer, on utilise toujours « en »

Exemples:
Je traverse l’Atlantique en bateau
Il préfère voyager en train plutôt qu’en avion
Nous allons à Dunkerque en voiture.
Les enfants vont à l’école en bus.

  • Pour les moyens de transports sur lesquels on monte ou que l’on enfourche et pour ceux non motorisés, la règle veut que l’on utilise la préposition « à »

Exemples:
Je vais travailler à moto ou à pied*
Je me promène à vélo.
Elles adorent les balades à cheval ou à dos d’âne

*Notez que cette locution est toujours invariable: « à pied »

  • Cependant, l’emploi de « en » est courant et accepté

Exemples: 
Je descends à skis / en skis.
Tu viens à vélo / en vélo.
Il repart à moto / en moto.

  • Un certain nombre de moyens de transports dans lesquels on ne peut pas entrer, s’emploient uniquement avec « en ».

Exemples:
Nous allons faire une sortie en traîneau ou en luge
Ils traversent le pays en tandem.

  • D’autres prépositions (dans, par) s’emploient avec les moyens de transport. Ici, « par » exprime le moyen, la manière et « dans » le lieu.

Exemples:
C’est plus rapide par le train.
Il est impossible de dormir dans l’avion.


Et vous, vous préférez vous déplacer comment? Personnellement, j’adore les voyages en train! 

L’astuce FLE de la semaine: « savoir » ou « connaître »?

woman sitting with guitar in front
Photo by mikoto.raw on Pexels.com

« – Tu sais jouer de la guitare?
– Oui, je connais deux ou trois accords.
– Tu connais Laura Cox?
– Oui, tout le monde la connaît!
– Tu savais qu’elle était française?
_ Non, je ne le savais pas! »

Pour exprimer l’habileté (la capacité, le savoir-faire) et la connaissance, on utilise les verbes « savoir » et « connaître« . 
Mais savez-vous quand utiliser l’un plutôt que l’autre?

  • « Connaître » s’utilise toujours avec un nom

Exemple: « -Connaissez-vous un bon docteur?
-Oui, j’en connais un. Mais je ne connais pas son numéro de téléphone. »

  • « Savoir » s’utilise en général avec un verbe ou une construction verbale

Exemple: « – Tu savais que Loïc avait une voiture?
– Oui, je le sais. Mais il ne sait pas encore conduire. »

Pour les choses apprises « par cœur », de mémoire, on utilise le verbe savoir:
Exemple: Ma fille sait l’alphabet et elle sait les tables de multiplication.

​Voilà, maintenant vous savez tout!

Grammar Mondays

As you know, we don’t only use conjunctions for opposition, we also need them to add information or make a further point. That’s why these are great; you can use them all at the start or in the middle of a sentence, always at the beginning of a clause.

Can you make a sentence with each one?

Let us know if you have any questions!