French Input

French the natural way: Listen!

Coucou les French learners,

Feel energized!

this week I got one of the best compliments from one of my online beginner learner. We had a productive one hour session. It was fun because we created a whole story together from scratch with many details. The main character, a French woman adopted a female cat who was special because she was bilingual. The cat could speak French and English but the French woman and the cat wanted another bilingual cat and so they went to Spain to find one!

As you can see, it was quite an intriguing story and to be honest I was slightly worn out by the end of it. I was worried my learner would be exhausted too because she had taken in so much French input in just one hour session. I was stunned by her response. She wrote to me: “There is something so special about the way you teach. I finished the language lesson energized, not tired!“. It got me thinking: by building up a compelling and comprehensible story, you do not feel you are actually learning, you focus on the content and not on the form and therefore you feel empowered!

Practice listening

In a thoughtful article to scaffold Chinese learning, Diane Neubauer gives great tips to practice listening to Chinese which can also be applied to listening to French!

Among other useful tips, she recommends to “listen to a story many times. Try to listen to it five, ten or twenty times. Unless you’re really out of your depth, you will gradually understand more and more.

She also recommends to “use written support. Listening is difficult partly because it’s instantaneous; if you don’t understand something it’s gone after a few seconds. You can’t linger on a specific word until you get it like you can with reading. For this very reason, using written support can sometimes be a good idea.

Finally, she highlights a very useful point: “visualise the audio. This is a non-linguistic version of the above. Instead of relying on written support, you rely on other visual input, such as pictures, video or similar.”

I have good news for you! My videos include all the points above: you can pause the video, you can replay it as many times as you want. You can also use the transcript to read what I am saying and you have my silly drawings on the board to understand the story.

Watch a comprehensible French story

You can apply those great listening tips right now by watching my last video which is… A love story!!!

You will acquire:
Il est amoureux de = he is in love with
Il veut sortir avec = he wants to go out with
Est-ce que tu veux aller avec moi ? = do you want to go with me?
Je n’ai pas envie de = I don’t feel like

What is your favorite activity in your free time? Make sure to leave a comment below this post or on Youtube.

Happy French acquisition!

A bientôt !

P.S. Got friends, family, colleagues or clients who want to become fluent in French? Share this with them, they’ll thank you for it :-)

French the natural way: Election Day

French presidential election day, the first round

Coucou les French learners,

today is the first round to vote for the next French president and in my mailbox, I received the programs of each of the eleven candidates along with their names printed on a piece of white paper. I am supposed to bring these papers to the isoloir, the private cabin where the French citizens insert the paper of their chosen candidate in an envelop.

New photo by alice ayel / Google Photos

Later tonight, we will know who are the two final candidates for the second round of the elections on the 7th of May. To be honest, I am quite nervous about the results and the future for my own country. I am hoping for the best because France is in a bad shape to say the least!

Songs to vote (or not to vote)!

Fortunately, I received Wunderkammern’s newsletter this afternoon which cheered me up a bit. In his latest blog post, the wonderful 

La droite qui boite, emboîte, déboite ses preux.
La gauche qui fauche, embauche, débauche ses gueux.
Le centre qui rentre son ventre, reste entre les deux.

which translates into English more or less that way:
The right which limps, nestles, dislocates its valiant men.
The Left who mows, hires, lays off his beggars.
The center that retracts its belly, remains between both.

You can read the all repertoire and the explanation in English here.

Besoin de lunettes ?

To finish on a lighter note, watch my latest story about looking for glasses, les lunettes. I cannot believe it is already the 20th French story!!! It is inspired by a Spanish story script ” Buscando gafas ” by Martina Bex. It gave birth to a fun teaching sequence back when I was a middle school Spanish teacher.

You will acquire the question word où ? where? as well as:
Elle n’a pas ses lunettes = she doesn’t have her glasses
Elle ne sait pas où = she does not know where
Elle a besoin de = she needs
J’en ai besoin = I need them
Elle demande = she asks
Elle/il répond = s/he answers

Do you wear des lunettes, glasses or des lentilles, contact lenses or rien, nothing? Make sure to leave a comment below this post or on Youtube.

Happy French acquisition!

P.S. Got friends, family, colleagues or clients who want to become fluent in French? Share this with them, they’ll thank you for it :-)

French the natural way: Joyeuses Pâques !

Joyeuses Pâques ! Happy Easter!

Today is Lundi de Pâques in France and it is a bank holiday. Children have been told that the bells from Rome flew all the way to France to deliver chocolate eggs and they are now happily hunting chocolates in their gardens.

France is traditionally Catholic and church bells don’t ring between Good Friday, Vendredi Saint and Easter Sunday, Dimanche de Pâques, to commemorate the death of Christ and his resurrection.

Our grandparents, parents and now myself tell our children that the bells are flying to Rome during that time to be blessed by the Pope, and then come back from this trip loaded with chocolates. They randomly drop these treats in gardens and parks.

Read more about Easter’s traditions in France in this informative blog post by Camille Chevalier-Karfis.

Le chocolat, miam !

Being a Catholic myself, I did not eat chocolate during Lent, le Carême for exactly 40 days. Lent is this time of the year before Easter when many Christians commit to fasting, as well as “giving up” certain luxuries in order to “replicate” the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s journey into the desert for 40 days.

So yesterday, we had a decadent chocolate cake, gâteau au chocolat which we savored!

And here is “an old” story (from the January French Challenge) about le gâteau au chocolat. You will acquire:
elle adore = she loves
elle mange = she eats
trop = too much

Do you eat too much chocolate, trop de chocolat ? Make sure to leave a comment below this post or on Youtube.

La Résurrection du Christ

Easter resonates to me because there is Hope, there is Eternal Life! So I want to share two beautiful paintings with you:


Both are entitled La Résurrection du Christ and both were painted by French artists: Noël Coypel and Charles Le Brun.

One of my French learner told me (which I did not know) that the painting on the left by Noël Coypel is in the US, Indiana, Notre Dame!

On the painting on the right by Charles Le Brun, can you spot two French Kings: Louis XIV and Louis IX, also known as Saint Louis?

Happy French acquisition et Joyeuses Pâques !

P.S. Got friends, family, colleagues or clients who want to become fluent in French? Share this with them, they’ll thank you for it :-)


French the natural way with the one essential ingredient: comprehensible input

Coucou les French learners,

today I want to share with you my own experience with teaching and learning another language and why facilitating French input which is comprehensible is so dear to my heart.

My personal story and why I teach French the natural way

I have always loved grammar. When I was a child, it was one of my favorite subject and I remember quite vividly circling the verbs in a text, underlining the subject pronouns and squaring the direct object complements. It was like a game to me, I could have done this kind of activity for hours! I am and I was a grammar freak and that is maybe one of the reason why, I became a language teacher.

Fast forward a few years when I began to teach French and Spanish, I believed grammar should be taught for students to understand how the language was built and how it worked. However, I came to realize that understanding grammar concepts like adjective agreements and verbs conjugation did not really help my students to communicate in the language. I was spending more time speaking in English explaining the grammar rules than speaking in the target language (French or Spanish)! Not mentioning the fact that my students were bored out of their minds!

Hence, I started to turn to other approaches because at the end of the day I wanted my students to be able to take part in conversations. I wanted them to become fluent in the language. Dr. Stephen Krashen made me realize how receiving input is the first and only step to achieve fluency in a language: ” The input Hypothesis claims that we acquire language in an amazingly simple way – when we understand messages. We have tried everything else – learning grammar rules, memorizing vocabulary, using expensive machinery, forms of group therapy, etc. What has escaped us all these years, however, is the one essential ingredient: comprehensible input.” (Krashen,1985: The Input Hypothesis: Issues and Implications, page vii).

J’ai eu le déclic, I clicked when I read Krashen’s Input Hypothesis because I, myself became fluent in Spanish this way! Listen to my experience in Spain here:

Hiccups story

Telling comprehensible stories is so much more fun than explaining grammar rules and my learners feel much more empowered too because they can understand so much in the target language.

This week’s French story is inspired by a cute Spanish story I used to tell to my middle school students. It is about a common but annoying problem: le hoquet . We all have our own little astuces, tricks to get rid of hiccups but why do we get hiccups? In this story, you will find out a very bizarre cause!

You will acquire:
Il a le hoquet = he has hiccups
Il ne peut pas = he can’t
Je ne peux pas = I can’t
Il essaie = he tries
arrête de respirer = stop breathing
il fait = he does

Do you have un truc, a trick pour se débarrasser, to get rid of hiccups? Make sure to leave a comment below this post or on Youtube.

Les trucs, the tricks

You can read this useful article about the causes and tricks to get rid of le hoquet. You will find out that some people can have hiccups for months, even for years!!! It is called le hoquet réfractaire! Quelle horreur !

Le hoquet est énervant !


C’est fini pour aujourd’hui ! I hope you enjoyed your dose of French input. See you next week for more stories!

Happy French acquisition!

A bientôt !

P.S. Got friends, family, colleagues or clients who want to become fluent in French? Share this with them, they’ll thank you for it :-)

French the natural way: table manners


here is your weekly dose of French comprehensible and compelling input to acquire the language naturally.

My boys including my 11 years old love to hear a good story before going to bed. In fact, they need their bedtime story, it is part of the daily routine and even if they have heard the same story for the hundredth time, they still love to hear it again. In her thoughtful blog post The Power of Storytelling , Claire explains that: “Storytelling literally connects us to our humanity because the ideas, thoughts and emotions shared through storytelling creates a physical connection through the insular, the region of the brain responsible for emotion, between a storyteller and listener.

A teenager’s story

I find that teenagers are intriguing little characters and having taught them French and Spanish for over 15 years, I got to observe them. Needless to say, they are a great source of inspiration for my stories!

A few months ago, I told a story about a typical weekend for a teenager called Julien and in this story, you will hear about a typical teenager’s evening!

you will acquire:
Il est fatigué = he is tired
Il ne veut rien faire = he doesn’t want to do anything
Il/elle dit = s/he says
tu dois = you have to / you must
il dort comme un bébé = he sleeps like a baby

Do you watch TV a lot or do you go to bed early? Make sure to leave a comment below this post or on Youtube.

A parallel story

When we create stories with my French learners, I also like to give them parallel stories to read at their pace on their own. Parallel readings include all the language found in the story during our language sessions, but in a new context with unknown details.

The story above is in fact based on Martin Lapworth’s funny story Bob est fatigué who posts many resources connected to TaskMagic (a software which allows you to create different exercises based on a text or a list of vocabulary).

You can download the story along with many reading exercises (matching up, dominoes, filling the gaps…) to practice your comprehension and memorize the vocabulary on the TaskMagic blog.

L’art de la table à la française

In the story, Robert has to set up the table ( mettre la table) and I was so sad to read that one third of the French no longer eat at a table but prefer to eat in a sofa watching television! You can read the full article in Le Parisien here.

A family feast from the French movie “Le Château de ma mère”

It is quite sad because we, the French, like to take out time to eat properly seating at a table and enjoying a starter, main course, cheese, salad and a dessert (of course!). It can sometimes take a few hours to have lunch with families and friends and it is part of our culture. This article goes through all the règles du savoir-vivre and how to behave in case you get invited by French people! I learned from this article that you should not say ” Bon appétit” before starting to eat, which I didn’t know!

C’est fini pour aujourd’hui ! I hope you enjoyed your dose of French input. See you next week for more stories!

Happy French acquisition!

A bientôt !

P.S. Got friends, family, colleagues or clients who want to become fluent in French? Share this with them, they’ll thank you for it :-)

Older Entries »