How to Complain in French

How to Complain in French It’s important to know how to complain. Sometimes you just want to moan and grumble and it would be fun to know a few words so that you could do it in French. Here are 14 excellent ways to start groaning like the French.   Be careful using some of these expressions. I’ve written the clean English translations, but some of these can be pretty vulgar.* Would you like to take a test to know what your current level is in French? Ça y est, ça commence. Here we go again. Ça suffit, maintenant! That’s enough, now! I’ve had enough! C’est chiant.* That’s annoying. This is boring. What a pain. That sucks. Tu me fais chier.*** You’re ticking me off. You’re _____ me off. You’re getting on my nerves. J’en ai marre. I’m tired of this. I’m fed up. I’ve had enough. I’m sick and tired. C’est pas possible! You’ve got to be kidding me. I can’t believe it. You can’t be serious. This is getting ridiculous. J’en ai ras le bol. I’m fed up. I’ve had it up to here. Je m’en fous.* I don’t care. I don’t give a _____. Va te faire foutre.****** —- you. Tu vas trop loin. You’re going too far. Je m’emmerde.** I’m bored stiff. I’m bored to tears. Tu m’emmerdes.*** You’re getting on my nerves. You’re ticking me off. J’en peux plus. I can’t take it anymore. C’est vraiment casse-pieds. What a pain in the neck. RÂLER – TO GRUMBLE, TO COMPLAIN je râle nous râlons tu râles vous râlez il – elle – on râle ils...

French schools: 10 Interesting Facts

French Schools:  10 Interesting Facts 1. Going to school is required by French law French parents have all used this threat against their growing kids in case they start voicing that they would love to just stay at home and skip school. It is of course the same in the USA where school is mandatory in all states. Would you like to take a test to know what your current level is in French?   2. Old methods die hard in French schools There are changes taking place but the “Éducation Nationale” is a very rigid and slow moving entity. Teachers are still seen giving grades in front of the whole class or having students copy lines for punishment.   3. Math is king in French schools Selection in high school is based on math and science. In France, the best students are considered to be those who can perform well in math, physics…   4. French schools are secular It is a mandated law that no one can wear any religious sign when attending a public school. This has created controversy at times, like when France banned Muslim scarves from schools a couple of years back.   5. Teacher centered education This goes with #2. French schools and classrooms are very centered around the teacher providing education to the children and having to cover a curriculum mandated by the government. By experience I can also say that younger teachers are being taught with more modern methods and are guiding students better.   6. Long school days Kids usually start at around 8 or 8:30 and end their day around 5:00pm. Most students...

Elementary school testing in France

Elementary school testing in France Les évaluations du CM1 en France Find out your French CEFR level for free Click here for French lessons and activities for French teachers Elementary school testing in France is a lot more intense than anything I’ve seen in the US. I used to teach in a very competitive high school in St. Louis, Missouri, and what elementary age children have to prepare for here in France is quite similar to exam prep for quarter, semester, and final exams. Here is a photo of part of my son’s list (I’ve typed it below in case you can’t read it) of what to study for the upcoming “exam week”. He’s just turned ten, by the way. These aren’t national exams, they’re just the regular exams that children in France always have at the end of each trimestre.  That means they have intense exams about once every two months. I’ve noticed that the stress involved in preparing for such an event is not downplayed by either parents or teachers. It’s as if rigorous testing were a right of passage into the harrowing realm of higher education in France, but don’t worry, here are 10 fun things to know about French schools. There are ups and downs to every school system, and what I say next may surprise you. I like it. I like the testing. I don’t necessarily like the stress involved, I don’t like the lack of creativity and the old school ways, I don’t think it’s good for the whole class to know who is first in the ranking and who is last, but I do like...

10 gorgeous sites in the Languedoc France

Thanks for reading us! Love Learning Languages gives French lessons on Skype, you can learn French from the comfort of your home or office. We also give immersion classes locally in the Languedoc. Today we are talking about the South of France that we call home! Here are 10 gorgeous sites in the Languedoc France by Love Learning Languages to help you point your compass when you want to hike, bike, run…or just walk around in our lovely Languedoc. Visit these 10 gorgeous sites in the Languedoc France: 1. Le Canal du Midi A UNESCO World Heritage site, the canal offers a great deal of paths suitable to walks and bikes. You can for instance start in Béziers at the famous 9 locks “les neuf écluses” and make your way to the beach 14kms South to Portiragne Plage.   2. Le gouffre de l’Oeil Doux Breathtaking and one of a kind, this small geological oddity is a great start or end for a hike. It is located close to Gruissan. Swim there at your own risk as it is prohibited but a lot of people dive  anyway. Oeil-doux means “gentle eye”.   3. Le cirque de Navacelles Located in the Mountains near Saint Maurice Navacelles, it is a dried-up lake which left very rich soil in an otherwise dry region. Great hikes all around the area. 4. St-Guilhem-le-Désert Another UNESCO World heritage site and one of the prettiest villages in France, Saint-Guilhem gets very crowded in the summer as it is rather small. There are hikes in the mountains around the village. Note the chemin de Compostelle goes through the village.   5. La Voie...

Halloween in France

Halloween in France Want to do a French Halloween writing exercise? Let’s look at 10 spooky and strange places.  We teach French on Skype and work with students all over the world so we have been talking about fall and the Toussaint Holidays but also about scary places and French vocabulary about Halloween in France: 1. The Catacombs If you visit Paris you ought to pay a visit to one of the creepiest places ever. When Paris’ cemeteries started overflowing, the bones of millions of people were stored underground in ancient mines. Spooky!!   2. Béziers’ massacre July 22nd 1209, a horrendous religious massacre took place in the Southern city of Béziers, people were burned in a church. Overall an estimated 15,000 souls were slaughtered during the siege of Béziers !  Gruesome!! 3. The Bastille Beheadings Now a happening area in Paris, it was once the location of the Bastille jail and after it was destroyed it became an execution spot where the “guillotine” was in action during the bloody French Revolution in the 18th century.   4. The Phantom of the Opéra The Paris Opera or Opéra Garnier is magnificent and also mysterious. A ghost was said to haunt the place and strange things really happened there. Boo!   5. La Maison de Landru – a Serial Killer Landru was a French serial killer convicted of luring and killing 10 women in his house in Gambais. He was executed (beheaded of course) in 1922. Scary!   6. The Père Lachaise Cemetery The Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris is known to be the burial place of Jim Morrison (the Doors) and other...

France: In the summer things slow down

France:  school is out in a couple of days here.  It culminates with the Baccalauréat and frees hordes of students for at least two months! If you study at a university you will most likely get 4 months off. Even if you are a salaried employee, the minimum you will get is 5 weeks of vacation! Find out your French CEFR level for free 1. Companies close for weeks in the summer The example I will take is an American company, famous for its hard work and meticulous audits. McKinsey, a New York firm closes its Paris offices for 3 weeks in August! You read correctly 3 weeks! So check in advance. 2. Most people take their summer vacation in July or August There are even terms to label people depending on what month they take their vacation. The “Juilletistes” are the ones leaving during the month of July while the “Aoûtiens” are the ones who decided to wait for the second part of the summer. 3. Avoid traveling on the first and the 15th of July and August 55% of the population will be going on vacation in July or August! That is roughly over 35 million people traveling in a country smaller than the US State of Texas! Most of them will drive or take the train and most people rent summer homes or stay at campgrounds for 2 weeks. If you really have to travel on these dates, check with Bison Futé. It is a Government agency whose goal is to inform and ease road travel. 4. Travel smart to avoid crowds Do your research, and travel...
10 Fun Things to Discover in Paris

10 Fun Things to Discover in Paris

10 Fun Things to Discover in Paris Find out your French CEFR level for free From other tips I have given you, you might remember to get some good walking shoes and get lost in Paris! If you get tired you will enjoy the great public transportation system, the bikes and the electric cars you can get from stations all over Paris! 1. Essayez les Autolib! If you are tired of walking, taking the Métro and the bus and want some freedom without the hassle of going through a rental car company, try les Autolib! They are electric and you can find stations all across Paris. Bordeaux and Lyon also have autolibs.  This is a fun thing to discover in Paris! 2. If you are between 15 and 25 years old get the Summer Pass. In July and August the municipality of Paris sells passes that will give you free access to a number of cultural events, outdoors activities.. Hurry though because they are selling 30,000 passes and only 13,000 are left as I am writing this post!! Le Pass Jeune 3. Bastille Day fireworks at the Eiffel Tower: Magical! This is an awesome show, last year half a million attended the concert and fireworks! This year the music will be classical and the theme of the fireworks “vive la vie à Paris!”. This is probably one of the best fireworks displays in the world! 4. New: The terrace on the Eiffel Tower! I have not visited this but it sounds incredible. The highest “terrasse” in Paris! All decorated with eco friendly furniture, swings, plants… You can of course enjoy...
Visit Paris like locals 10 great tips

Visit Paris like locals 10 great tips

Visit Paris like locals! I have visited Paris so many times over the years I just do feel like a local now. I married a Parisian so I guess it helps, but in fact you will be surprised how easy it is to feel like you belong here. Sitting in a café or even on a park bench relaxing, you can look around and feel the vibe. Bienvenue à Paris and visit Paris like locals! Find out your French CEFR level for free 1. Visit in July and August! It sounds silly, but most students will have these months off and it happens to be the time when a lot of Parisians leave and the energy level comes down a bit. There will be a lot of tourists don’t get me wrong, but there will be less traffic especially if you wisely stay in a residential area. 2. Use the Metro and the buses and walk. It is so easy and practical to take the bus and the Metro you would be silly to spend extra cash getting a cab. Wear comfortable shoes and walk around Paris. The RATP site will have all the info you need. Check out François’  podcast about taking the metro in Paris, it is a great listening comprehension exercise and will help you visit Paris like locals! . 3. Go to touristy places early Ok I know you will want to hit the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum. These places get really busy all the time but the summer months will bring even more tourists. If you go early, you will be able...

10 Tips to Prepare a Trip to France

  1. Go to Paris Most of us will go to the Capital of France when planning a trip, but recently I have met people who skipped the City of Lights and Love… Don’t do that! Accommodations can be pricey, but if you plan in advance, you can find a relatively reasonable hotel even in Paris “intra-muros”. 2. Stay at least a week in a region If you want to really live like the French, choose a region that interests you and rent a place in a village. You will experience going to the bakery to get fresh bread, eating in small restaurants and spending hours eating and talking with locals… You can rent a car and visit a myriad of sites from your home base. 3. Scan a copy of your passport This step could save you a lot of time and headaches in case you lose your passport – it happens to the best of us. Use Google drive or another cloud based storage so you can retrieve the images easily. For US citizens the US embassy is located here. 4. Prepare your finances Plan to have Euros in cash for when you arrive in France. If possible get a credit card with a chip (une puce), it will save you time when paying. Cards in France have been equipped with chips for decades and you have to punch in a pin to pay for anything. Notify your bank you’ll be traveling. Certain banks freeze your account if they detect unusual activity from abroad.     5. Leave space in your suitcase You will want to purchase...

France vs Brazil 2014 Allez les Bleus!

                France vs Brazil 2014 Allez les Bleus! Click here for French lessons and activities for French teachers Click here for French teacher freebies Find out your French CEFR level for free Teachers:  Visit my TPT store for more French resources Le football, also called “foot” is a national sport in France. You cannot escape it, French people love it but you will find that some also hate it with the same passion.  Indeed, in the southwestern regions of France, people follow another team sport: le Rugby. Anywhere rugby is popular and played, football will not be as popular. During the World Cup, which only happens every four years, more people will show interest toward “le ballon rond” (the round ball). Flags will start popping up here and there and supporters’ fervor will grow, especially when the French team is doing well. Since their victory in 1998 at home in Paris, les Bleus have had serious ups and downs at the World Cup. In 2002 they did very poorly and were eliminated during the group stage. In 2006, they went all the way to the final game during which their star player Zidane was sent off after head-butting an Italian player. They ended up losing the game against their long time rival Italy, and people still talk about that game to this day. The French team’s 2010 WorldCup run was a total disaster. It started with a qualification obtained thanks to an obvious handball from an otherwise outstanding player, Thierry Henry. The team then went to South Africa but didn’t win a game. They even went on strike!  This farce made...

Tips for Traveling in France

Tips for Traveling in France Scroll down to the bottom of this page to watch my video and hear some of my top tips for traveling in France. Click here for French lessons and activities for French teachers Click here for French teacher freebies Find out your French CEFR level for free Teachers:  Visit my TPT store for more French resources Jennifer shares some of her favorite travel tips for traveling in France, and this time it’s in English! She has a lot of funny stories to tell, so take advantage and learn from her rookie mistakes! What will Jennifer talk about in this video? Speaking English in Paris Speaking loudly Personal space Bank cards without microchips Toll highways Riding bikes in Paris Tabac & smoking in France Stamps ATM Crossing the street Following the rules (or not) Do you have any tips for traveling in France that you would like to share? Don’t hesitate to write them in the comments! Do you want to learn French before your trip to France? Come and take some Skype lessons with Jennifer and Love Learning Languages. À...

Train Travel in France

Train Travel in France Ok, pack your bags, let’s take the train! Très bien, faites vos bagages, prenons le train! A lot of people have asked us to talk about train travel so to continue our series on traveling, we will this time talk about railroad travel vocabulary and how to get around in France, or any other French speaking country using the train. It is much easier and convenient to travel by train in France than in the US, trains go virtually anywhere across the country and major cities are now linked to Paris with the TGV (train à grande vitesse) or bullet train. You can ride a TGV from Paris to London in 2h15, Paris to Lyon in 2 hours, Paris to Geneva in 3 hours, Paris to Montpellier in 3h30 hours! There are even discount train options now departing from Marne la Vallée, the trains are called Ouigo and travel to the South of France for very cheap, you can get a one way ticket for 20€. We provide Immersion sessions in the Béziers area and if logistically possible we often advise our clients to travel by train. You can relax and read a book, move around and look at the “paysage”. Some train cars even offer a “Zen” option and you are not allowed to talk or make noise in those cars. Cell phone use is prohibited in cars, and even if it can sometimes be crowded and train, are not always on time, this is an overall good experience. Little bit of history: train travel is common here in France and has been around since 1837, date of...

“Les Langues adoucissent les moeurs”

“Where words fail, music speaks” Hans Christian Andersen To me, quotes are just like tweets, they are a tad restrictive, even if they  can sometimes succeed at summarizing the author’s thoughts and can carry a lot of meaning. The above quote by Danish tale writer and Poet Andersen nails what notes and certain melodies can do to us and our brains. Music, as we say in French “adoucit les moeurs”. This expression is quite impossible to translate and simply means that music helps people be better. Learning languages can do that too. I believe learning languages and loving learning languages can make us better ; better communicators, of course, but also better humans. Indeed, when people want to learn another language, they usually also want to learn facts about the country (or countries) in which that language is spoken. They are eager to know what people eat, what their local customs are, and the history of those nations. Well, this can certainly open your mind and make you more accepting of another culture and thus dissolve any stereotypes you might have heard.  For instance, knowing French well will make you connect on a different level with people from France, Canada, West Africa… In fact, 200 million people speak French on 5 continents! We are passionate about teaching French on Skype and creating fun online lessons so we can teach people across the world about cultures where French is the native language. Knowing English will also of course open your mind to a myriad of cultures from the USA to New Zealand via Great Britain and India. Our poll today [polldaddy poll=3220749] A few...

Local Markets in France

des poivrons de l’ail des poules des asperges sauvages des olives miam, miam! à la poissonnerie du fromage Click here for French lessons and activities for French teachers Click here for French teacher freebies Find out your French CEFR level for free Teachers:  Visit my TPT store for more French resources Spring has finally arrived! Well for most of us… We are fortunate to live in sunny South of France where we give French Skype lessons and English online lessons all year long so for us, sunglasses are a must and we even started using sunscreen a month ago. Alright, I will stop rubbing it in and move on to what I wanted to talk about today.  Yes! We can finally start hunting for stringy elusive wild asparagus or gobble lovely juicy varieties of local strawberries and still enjoy local artichokes, avocados and leeks, the markets are getting more colorful and our taste buds can anticipate an avalanche of naturally sweetened treats! In France, just like in the US, the French government’s recommendation is a minimum of at least 5 fruits or veggies per day. Yeah, I know it is not easy everyday. You can visit this site in case you can read French for details and tips about being a healthier family in France. In the US, we used to browse through this one to find tips and make good choices, then shop at local markets, which are so hard to find, and in stores like Trader Joe’s  or Whole Foods Market . We were then pretty sure to hit our 5 a day average. Here in France, even in large cities, you can easily find a plethora of...

Poisson d’Avril

Poisson d’Avril Breaking news! Fish Robots will soon be swimming all over the Globe and provide internet service to 99.99% of humans ! If you believe this hoax, even if not so far fetched, and you are in France get ready to hear “poisson d’avril” !! All French children are so very excited today ! The tradition has been going on for as long as I can remember. In fact, at the beginning of the 2oth Century people in France would send cards to each other on April 1st and the cards were usually depicting or shaped like a fish. Nowadays, no one sends cards on this date, even electronic ones. Instead kids and some adults all over France will tell jokes and hoaxes and also tape  handmade fish made out of paper on your back and then giggle and laugh about it all the way home. The fish can sometimes be plain and simple white cut-outs, but also be real works of art ! You can pin them on your teacher, on your principal, on your friends or parents. But the hilarious part is when you succeed in making someone believe something you just made up on the spot !   Here are a couple of useful words to understand this very French way of celebrating April Fools day. “Poisson d’Avril” !! Is what you have to say after someone believes your hoax. For instance this morning, we tricked the kids into believing they were late for school ! We changed to summer time Sunday in France, but our kitchen clock was still on winter time… so indicating an hour later. Our son, who is 10, suddenly was in rush...

Faire la bise, mais combien de fois?

Faire la Bise:  Combien de fois? «C’est combien chez toi?» Click here for French lessons and activities for French teachers Click here for French teacher freebies Find out your French CEFR level for free Teachers:  Visit my TPT store for more French resources This particular French custom can seem very foreign to people arriving in France for the first time, talk about a cultural difference, and especially if you come from a culture where people enjoy their personal space.  The really funny thing is if you are traveling from region to region within France the number of kisses you give to say hello and good-bye can and certainly do change. The number of times the French kiss each other on the cheek as a form of greeting can vary greatly. In Corsica, the number of kisses can be as many as 5!  When you see people you know or if you are being introduced to someone in a rather informal setting you’ll be expected to faire la bise.  It’s only natural, and there’s nothing romantic about it. Girls and women kiss and are kissed by everyone.  With men it varies greatly upon the relationship and the region.  Men who greet other men (like family members and very close friends) with la bise is very common.  However, when men meet other men for the first time they’ll never faire la bise.  A simple handshake will do.  Again, it is all about the relationship and it’s never about attraction or romance. Do you find it hard to believe that the number of bises given can vary so much?  Look at the map of France below, and you’ll...

“Zou Bisou, Bisou”

Zou Bisou, Bisou I’ve found that singing along with French music is one of the best ways to learn new vocabulary and to get yourself used to pronouncing the words fluidly. (just in case you want to sing along with Jessica Paré, here are the words) Un, deux, trois, quatre Zou bisou bisou, Zou bisou bisou, Zou bisou bisou, Zou bisou, zou bisou, Mon dieu qu’ils sont douxZou bisou bisou, Zou bisou bisou, Zou bisou bisou, Zou bisou, zou bisou, Le bruit des bisoux Dans les buissons Sous le ciel du moi d’août, Les amoureux glissent à pas de loup, Comme les oiseaux ils ont rendez-vous, On l’entend partout, ou, ou! Zou bisou bisou, Zou bisou bisou, Zou bisou bisou, Zou bisou, zou bisou, Mon dieu que c’est doux, ou, ou! (Zou bisou bisou) Mais dites-moi, savez vous (Zou bisou bisou) Ce que veut dire entre nous (Zou bisou bisou, zou bisou, zou bisou, mon dieu que c’est doux) Ce que veut dire un zou bisou (Zou bisou bisou) Ça veut dire je vous l’avoue (Zou bisou bisou) Mais oui je n’aime que vous Zou bisou bisou, zou bisou, zou bisou, mon dieu que c’est doux Zou bisou, bisou. [youtube...

English Words that Come From French

According to Wikipedia, between 60% and 70% percent of the English language is of “French, most derived from, or transmitted by, the Anglo-Norman spoken by the upper classes in England for several hundred years after the Norman Conquest, before the language settled into what became Modern...