French Input

French the natural way : le quinze août

Coucou les French learners,

Bienvenus, welcome back!!!

It has been a while but I am back home after an amazing road trip through Spain and France! I have many good news to share with you but first I want to talk to you about le quinze août, August 15th which is a very special day in France. It is un jour férié, a bank holiday which means that if it falls on a Friday, vendredi or a Monday, lundi the French can have a long weekend, un long week-end ! This year, it fell on a Tuesday, mardi so many French workers did the bridge, ont fait le pont : they took Monday, lundi off.

Bouchons sur la route des vacances, le 29 juillet 2017, près de Valence (Drôme). (CHRISTOPHE ESTASSY / CITIZENSIDE / AFP)

Faire le pont is like a mini holiday, des minis vacances but they are also massive traffic jams on the roads! Traffic jams are embouteillages or bouchons in French. Funnily or typically enough, those two words have to do with drinking! Embouteillage has the word bottle, bouteille in it and literally translates as “to put in a bottle”. When you are stuck in a traffic jam, you are like stuck in a bottle! Un bouchon also means the cork of a bottle of wine!

Find out more about these funny words and expressions in this article about untranslatable French words you need for the summer holidays.

La fête de Marie

Why is le quinze août a bank holiday? Because France is originally a Catholic country. The 15th of August celebrates the assumption of Saint Mary, mother of Jesus Christ into Heaven. As Jesus already went into Heaven on Jeudi de l’Ascension, it is now Mary’s turn to do so.

French King, Louis XIII made it an official celebration with sacred processions. He asked Saint Mary to help him have a son. He did not have any children and he needed an heir! Fortunately, Louis XIV, le Roi Soleil was born and to thank La Vierge Marie, Virgin Mary, Louis XIII organised processions all over the country in her honor.

Nowadays, those processions are still taking place and where my parents in law live, in La Bretagnea special mass is celebrated outside of the little chapel, next to the beach. It is beautiful and at the end of the mass, the priest blesses all the boats.

La célébration de la messe de l’Assomption à Penvins, en Bretagne

When I was younger, I used to spend my summer holidays in the South West of France, in Arcachon and on the 15th of August, we could admire all the decorated boats on the sea being blessed by the priest. It is also called la fête de la mer, the celebration of the sea. In the night, there would be fireworks.

Bénédiction de la Mer et défilé nautique à Arcachon

Read more about this special day, its traditions and origins in this blog post for French learners: Qu’est-ce que c’est le 15 août en France ?

Season 2 has landed!

It is now time to reveal the great news!!! I am finally back with new videos on YouTube!!!

Whilst I was travelling to France, I spent a fabulous week at the Agen workshop. I got to learn from inspiring teachers and lecturers about language acquisition. It also motivated me to make my online stories even richer and more comprehensible. More about this amazing experience in my next newsletter!

Here is the first story of Season 2. It is about a boy who wants to go to the countryside, la campagne and who meets a rather strange stone there! It is based on a Spanish story by Spanish Cuentos entitled “La roca tonta” (I love these stories!).

In this story, you will acquire:
Il va à la campagne = he goes to the countryside
Il se promène = he wanders
Il donne un coup de pied = he kicks
Il rigole = he laughs

Please note thate the word stupide in French is not a rude a word, it used to say something (or someone) is silly, does not make sense!

In the comments below, let me know if you prefer la ville, the city or la campagne, the countryside?

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 :-)

P.P.S Do you know about the Great Story Reading Project? You can read all  types of wonderful stories in many languages and at different levels, from beginner to advanced. And you can also read my stories scripts!!!

French the natural way: la fête du cinéma

Coucou les French learners,

We, the French like to celebrate!!!

Two weeks ago we celebrated music and last week it was the movies turn with la fête du cinéma. It lasted for four days from Sunday to Wednesday and the idea is to promote cinema and theaters. When I was a teenager, I remember spending the weekend going to the cinema with my friends. We would go to different theaters in Paris and we would watch one film after another. We only paid 10 francs which is a bit more than 1 Euro to watch a film. This year the ticket was 4 Euros.

So this another opportunity for me to share 5 French movies I enjoyed watching:

Le petit locataire


It is a comedy which made me laugh and cry. The French actress Karin Viard is moving as she plays a fifty years old woman who finds out she is pregnant! Comprising the four generations under her roof is her eccentric elderly mother Mamilette and her daughter Arielle along with Arielle’s pesky Canadian partner Toussaint and their 6-year-old daughter Zoé. Finishing off the family tree is Nicole’s husband Jean-Pierre, an unemployed ex-gymnast. This film is about a family and is about family in general. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Watch the trailer here.

Watch the whole movie here.

La famille Bélier

It is another comedy with Karin Viard and also with music starring French superstar, Louane Emera. The film follows a young woman, raised by deaf parents, who dreams of being a singer. I mentioned this film in the previous newsletter as it features the beautiful song Je vole.

Watching movies with music is also  the perfect starting point to acquire French. As this recent article in the Local points out: “Listening to music allows you to hear the clear pronunciation of words as the phrases are more drawn out. Songs are also repetitive so maybe by the final chorus, you’ll be singing along.

Watch the trailer here.

Watch the whole movie here.

Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont

This film is based on the true story of the father of the musician Kamini. In 1975, Seyolo Zantoko, a graduate doctor from Kinshasa, grabs the opportunity of becoming a country doctor in a small French village. When they arrive in Marly-Gomont, Seyolo and his family quickly become disillusioned. The village inhabitants are afraid; this is the first time they’ve ever seen African people. But Seyolo is determined to suceed and will do everything he can to win the villagers’ trust. It is a story of determination, hard work and success, I loved it!

Watch the trailer here.

Watch the whole film here.


It is a biopic about the life of French singer, songwriter and entertainer Claude FrançoisCloclo is referring to François’ nickname. The song My Way popularized by Frank Sinatra, was originally co-written, co-composed and performed as Comme d’habitude by François. The film follows the life of the singer from his childhood in Egypt to his accidental death in 1978. Nowadays, if you happen to be invited to a French party or if you go to a nightclub in France, you will for sure dance on one of Cloclo’s songs!

Watch the trailer here.

Watch the whole movie here.

Peau d’Ane

it is an old movie which was my favorite when I was a little girl. I jut wished I had all the dresses Peau d’Ane had! It is a French musical film based on the fairy tale by Charles Perrault about a king who wishes to marry his daughter. Numerous elements in the film refer to Jean Cocteau‘s 1946 fairy tale film Beauty and the Beast: the casting of Jean Marais, the use of live actors to portray human statues in the castles, and the use of simple special effects such as slow motion and reverse motion. It is kitsch but it is magical too and I am not ashamed to say that I know some of the songs by heart!

Watch the trailer here.

Watch me telling the tale to a one of my French learner. He had only started to learn French with me a year ago but he understood everything I told him! You can read about his success story here.

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 :-)

P.P.S. I am off travelling to Spain and to France so I will be back with new videos on YouTube in August!

French the natural way: la fête de la musique

Coucou les French learners,

Summer has officially started and as it was the solstice on the 21st, it was also la Fête de la Musique which is a music celebration taking place all over France and in 120 countries around the world.  Amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets, under the slogan ” Faites de la musique “ (“make music”, a homophone of Fête de la Musique). It is a delightful experience to walk in a city or a village and to hear music everywhere!

This occasion gives me the chance to share 5 special chansons, songs dear to my heart:

La Belle Vie

La Belle Vie is a song which lifts me up whenever I feel down. Originally sung by Sacha Distel, there is an updated version sung by three gentlemen. It is very classy!

The TV5 website for French learners is great, you can listen to the song, as well as read the lyrics and you also have exercises to go with the song on the right side of the page.

Listen to Sacha Distel here.

Entrez dans la lumière

It is a beautiful song by Patricia Kaas. When I was a young teenager, I was a big fan of her and I even went to her concert with my grandmother! (I had a super grandmother!).

This song is also special to me because it is how I discovered the comprehensible approach to teach languages. I saw Susan Gross presentation at a conference for international schools and she was amazing! She put on this song to show how language learners can listen to music and acquire another language. It was my first encounter with TPRS and the natural approach and there was no turning back!

Listen to Patricia Kaas here.

Read the lyrics here.

Paroles, Paroles

Paroles, Paroles is a bit of a silly song but it reminds me of being silly with my best school friends. Dalida was a Italian, then French singer who was born in Egypt. She performed and recorded in more than ten languages. In this song, she sings with famous French actor, Alain Delon who tells her how beautiful she is. Dalida tells him these are only mots, words, only paroles !

Listen to Dalida and Delon here.

Read the lyrics here.

Je vole

My uncle always had a tape of Michel Sardou in his car and I remember listening to his songs with my cousins at the back of the car. This song is a beautiful ode to parents whose children are leaving to pursue their own lives. It was also sung by Louane in the recent French film La Famille Bélier, which I recommend you to watch.

Listen to the song and do the comprehension exercises here.

A quoi ça sert l’amour ?

It is a beautiful love song sung by the amazing Edith Piaf and Théo Sarapo.

Listen to Piaf and Sarapo here.

Do activities about the song here.

A quoi ça sert ? is a typical French expression meaning: what’s the point? Watch my story to understand this structure better:

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 :-)

P.P.S. Watch my new story on YouTube, it is also about sharing bedrooms and a dog!

Learn French the natural way: bon voyage !

Coucou les French learners,

To travel is to grow. It is the big adventure. The one which leaves marks in the soul.Marc Thiercelin, Captain Marck.

As the holidays are approaching for many of us, I want to talk to you about voyager, travelling.

These past weeks, I co-created along with one of my amazing French learners an interesting story about a special suitcase. In my French lessons, we have a lot of fun describing a character out of the blue! I always ask my learners to choose between une personne, un animal ou un objet and I find the objects often give birth to the funniest stories! The ideas for the stories all come from the learner, I am the mere facilitator of French input. That way we have a natural conversation in French without any forced output.

Read about the special suitcase here and try to answer the 10 comprehension questions afterwards, I bet you’ll answer them all!

Le Canal des Deux Mers

I do love cycling and there was a time when I only had a bike to go to work and to shops. Living in Germany made cycling life easy though because there are so my cycle paths available!

If you enjoy cycling too, the Canal des Deux Mers is for you. It is an exceptional cycling route through France linking the two seas of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. You can cycle along for almost 800km beside the Canal de Garonne and the Canal du Midi, the latter a World Heritage Site, to explore unforgettable landscapes and sites.

 Read more about it on ZeFrench, a wonderful website full of short articles for French learners.

A holiday shoe: l’espadrille

L’espadrille (not to be confused with the Québécois word which means sport shoe!)  is in fashion and it is the typical summer holiday shoe to me. I remember my uncle always wearing them when he was holidays and it was hot.

The other day, I saw on my Facebook timeline a startup company called La Brousse which is selling unique espadrilles made in the South West of France with fabrics from Uganda, Africa. It is a wonderful project as if it turns out to be a successful business, it will give work to many Ugandan seamstresses!

Have a look at their business and maybe help them grow by ordering a pair. You can then use Google Translate Web to check your comprehension.

Une aventure de Polo en mer

And here is another of Polo’s adventure (but without his friend Marco!). It will help you escape from your daily routine, unless you live on a desert island, of course!

In this story, you will acquire:
Il voit = he sees
Il décide de = he decides to
Il continue de dormir profondément = he continues to sleep deeply
Elle grandit = she grows
Un sac de couchage = a sleeping bag

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 :-)

P.P.S. Watch my new story on YouTube, it is also about holidays!

Learn French the natural way: the ball is in your court

Coucou les French learners,

The title of this newsletter “the ball is in your court” is also a French expression: la balle est dans ton camp. And today, I thought I would change from politics and culture and I would talk to you about sport!

« Tout se passe plus dans la tête que dans la raquette. Ce n’est pas tennistiquement que l’on fait une différence, c’est dans la tête, dans l’envie. » Justine Hénin.
“Everything happens more in the heard than in the racket. It is not tennistically that one makes a difference, it is in the head, in the desire.”

Watch Tennis!

The Tennis French Open, also called Roland-Garros is happening now! It is a major tennis tournoi, tournament on terre battue, clay held over two weeks at the Stade Roland-Garros in Paris. It is probably along with the Tour de France, the biggest sporting event in France. When I used to live in Paris in my childhood, I remember watching the games on TV. I never got to go to Roland-Garros but I loved watching the games and following the big players. My favorite tennis player was Stefan Edberg but he never won Roland-Garros!

You can read more about this prestigious competition on Notre Coin du FLE à Bueu, which is a blog for French learners.

Remember the May Challenge? If you like to watch tennis, it is a great way to acquire French at the same time!

You can watch a game with French commentators on Eurosport. It is an excellent way to get comprehensible input and even though the words can be a bit technical, most of them come from the English words (since this sport as most sports was invented in England!): un ace, faire le break, la balle de break, la balle de match, un passing shot, un smash, le service, un slice, la volée… Look at the vocabulary related to tennis on Linternaute, another great French website for all sorts of news.

Un coup de soleil

Roland-Garros resonates with spring, blue skies, red clay… If you happen to go there, beware of the sun! This story is about un coup de soleil, literally a knock of sun or sunburn.

As well as the parts of the body, you will also acquire:
il regarde = he looks
il/elle est = s/he is
ils/elles sont = they are

You can then keep on reviewing the body parts playing with the flashcards on Quizlet.

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 :-)

P.P.S.Watch my new story on YouTube, it is another Polo’s adventure on a desert island!

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