La Vie à Lyon

Living, learning and loving in Lyon !

Archive for the tag “language”

No really, it’s homework !

Our professors all recommend that we watch tv every day. In French. I’m okay with that, I already watch a bit of telly, including Tout le Monde Veut Prendre sa Place and Plus Belle la Vie – but I always change The Mentalist back to English on Tuesday nights (Jane and Cho just get lost in translation) ! So at the Oullins autumn braderie, I bought 4 French DVDs – all in French (fancy that !) and all with French subtitles only.

Two of them are based on true stories, and I want to tell you about those.

The first, Intouchables (coming soon to cinemas in Australia, Mum tells me !), is about the relationship between a handicapped man and his live-in helper. Feel good movie of the year, it won a truckload of awards and is just that bit better because it’s true.

The second, however, is not so feel good. Omar m’a Tuer is about a gardener, Omar Raddad, who is accused of murdering one of his employers. The title comes from a (misspelled) sentence that was written in the victim’s blood at the scene of the crime, and means ‘Omar killed me’. Omar has a Maghrebian (Northern African) background and that, coupled with the bloody sentence, means that, in the eyes of the Toulon police, he is guilty. Without a doubt, and without a translator too. A great watch, but leaves one thoroughly disgusted with the French judicial system.

Get your popcorn ready !

Happy homework !

Bisous !

La vie étudiante

We’ve finally received our uni timtables and are ready to get back into the swing of things on Monday. Well…I am ! This semester I’m going to be studying level B2 17.5 hours a week (and reverting to level A1 and English the other 150.5) ! I’ll have classes with some of my good friends from last year – those who I started A1 with – plus lots of newbies, or friends I haven’t met yet !

As well as our linguistic classes, we had two options to choose from this semester, each containing three classes – Sciences Humaines and Sciences Sociales. I chose the first, which includes Littérature classique et moderne, Histoire et Géographie and Vie artistique en France. The other, aside from Vie économique en France, sounded good too, with Histoire et societé and Vie publique en France.

The timetable’s all over the place – classes start at 8, 10 or 12, finish at 12, 2, 4 or 6, I have a 2 hour break on Mondays and Fridays and nothing on Tuesdays but hey – c’est la vie étudiante !

Bisous !


In August, I was lucky enough to be invited to spend a week in an Italian mountain village with a French girlfriend, her family and a family friend.  One rainy Monday morning, the five of us squeezed into a little Renault Clio and hurtled off on the autoroute to…Switzerland. It wasn’t the most direct route, but it did make me smile to think that we had breakfast in France, lunch in Switzerland and tea in Italy.

We spent the week perched on the side of a mountain, in a little village called Intragna. We had a nice view of, yes, the mountains, the city of Verbania down below, and a slice of Lake Maggiore.

Intragna (population around 110) is in the Val Grande National Park. Emilie, Clo’s family friend, shares with her siblings the house built here by their Italian father. They use it for holidays, rather than living there full time. The road to Intragna, and further up the mountain, is an exciting series of hairpin corners, and all day we could hear cars tooting as they made their way up and down. Intragna itself has a mairie, a church, a bus stop (I can’t imagine a bus ride around those corners!), two war memorials, a general store, a restaurant and – as all good towns do – a pub. We did a few walks in the NP and were treated to amazing views, a soundtrack of goat bells as they frolicked around village ruins, two mountain house tours, and an apéro with a French couple we met during one of our walks !

We made the descent  most days (tooting madly at each corner) to shop, swim and sightsee. Lake Maggiore has many little beaches, and a summer temperature of around 26° – heaven on the 35° days we had most of the week ! We visited Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori, stickybeaked around Stresa and drank gelati cocktails in Verbania !

The holiday highlight however, was in a touristy newsagents, where I bought a magnet. The exchange went something like this:

Me (in Italian): Buongiorno ! 

Italian woman (in English): Two euros fifty, please. Is it a gift?

Me (in French): Non, non, c’est pour moi, merci.

Italian woman (in French): Oh, vous êtes française !

Me (in French and Italian): Oui ! Grazie, arrivederci !

An Australian mistaken for a Frenchie in Italy. I’m so trilingual !

Bisous !

Until next time…

My 4 week summer course finished yesterday, with presentations from all the project groups, a typical French picnic lunch (sans wine!), our final grades, and lots of hugs and au revoirs !

I found it an extremely worthwhile course, espacially as I took the A2 level classes, which I’d skipped during the school year. It was perfect for strengthening my grammar basics (pfft, as if anything is basic in French !) and I even received my first official 20/20 ! If you’ve ever got a spare July in Lyon, and you’re wondering what to do, I’d recommend it ! The friends you make are an added bonus 🙂

Now, what to do until September, and the start of the next semester…

Bisous !

School’s cool !

For lack of better things to do over the loooong summer break, I enrolled in a 4 week language and culture course at my uni. After a few hiccups at the start, all is going well and I am now catching up on the things I missed when I skipped a level – the imparfait, the plus-que-parfait, CODs and COIs and those bloody third group verbs!

Most of the students are from the USA and South Korea, and participating in study abroad programs organised by their universities back home. Then there’s a few randoms, like me, who are participating for other reasons. Having a French boyfriend that they need to communicate with, for example !

We have a two-hour language class each day, plus a two-hour project class. We have three projects of 12 hours each over the 4 weeks – I’m taking Ecriture Creative, Rencontres and Photos Animées.

Ecriture creative is creative writing, in which we…write creatively ! I even wrote my first poem in French:

Je veux aller à la mer / Où je peux prende un peu l’air

Où je peux ne rien faire / Sauf boire de fraiches, très bonnes bières

Very deep and meaningful stuff, that !

In Rencontres, we meet people from outside the university and talk with them about anything and everything, then prepare a little speech about them. The main focus is oral expression, and our prof films our presentations then goes over them with us, highlighting strengths and weaknesses, and what we can do to keep improving (I now have a little poster of lip and tongue positions to work on my vowel pronunciation!).  I love that she has the time to do this – it’s summer school and there’s only about 50 students in total, compared to the 500 during the semester !

And in Photos Animées we’re designing short comic strips set in Lyon. We’ve had a great time making up a story (involving the duck from my last post!), organising a story board, running around the Parc de la Tête d’Or taking photos and drawing what we can’t take photos of !

We have another week of classes then, on the final day, a big exposition of all the project work we’ve done.

Stay tuned for our comic strip !

Bisous !

Les examens…

As I feel like my head is about to explode and cover the house in French verbs, I decided to take a break and use some English, my langue maternelle! Yes, that’s right, it’s exam time again!

I had three last week, have three coming up this week and one after the Easter break.

Last week I had Familiar French, Written Expression/Grammar 1 and  Written Comprehension. Next week it’s Written Expression/Grammar 2, Oral Comprehension and Oral Expression. Civilisation’s after the holidays. We don’t have an exam for Creative Writing, rather an assignment worth a rather large chunk of our grade!

I think I’m going okay so far – nothing has been totally out of my league, but I think I’ve given my FF prof a good laugh – I mucked up the proverb Qui vol un oeuf, vol un boeuf (he who steals an egg can steal an ox) by writing qui vol un poulet (chicken), vol un boeuf! Whoops!

Extra points for humour, peut être?


St Patrick’s Day, Charly style

I do a bit of volunteer work for an English teaching association based in Charly, about 15 minutes from Oullins. I help out on Saturday mornings and last Saturday, being St Patrick’s Day, I helped out with their afternoon/evening festivities as well.

Mint cordial + cool jars = great decoration idea!

Aside from the wind, it was an awesome day! We had different Irish-themed activities for the kids (and adults), competitions, music, food (including cheddar cheese – oh how I’ve missed you!), drinks, fireworks and, of course, lots of spruiking for the English association!

These little guys were everywhere.

Junea taking guesses on the number of lollies!

Beer-swilling leprechaun on the colouring table!

And it was (almost) all in English! Aside from the 4 year old boy who woefully told me, ‘Je ne parle pas Anglais, je parle Français,’ everyone had a great time practising their English.

By the end of the night, Killian and Guinness were definitely the most commonly heard words!


Français familier

One of my classes is dedicated to the français familier, or familiar French. The everyday French that people use differs greatly to that which we are taught in our regular classes. We’re taught polite, bordering on formal, French (français standard or soutenu) – stuff that, when I tell Sim what I’ve learnt he says ‘Yes, that’s correct but noone talks like that!’ Sups…

Here’re a few for you:

  • Sups – short for super, used sarcastically.
  • Blé, fric, tunes – money, but equivalent to dough, cash, dosh. Money is de l’argent.
  • Bourré – drunk. Drunk is ivre, kind of sounds like the name Yves…unlucky!
  • Boudin – ugly. In Français standard, a boudin is a fat sausage!
  • Came – drugs. Our prof told us that on an excursion to La Guillotière, a known drug trafficking area (excursion?!), a student was pounced on by undercover police when he asked ‘Qu’est-ce que ce, la came?’ or, ‘What is came?’ But it’s pronounced like ‘calm’ so be careful! Don’t go looking for calm in La Guillotière – you never know what you’ll get! Arrested, perhaps.
  • Canon – a beautiful girl.
  • Flics – police, equivalent to cops.
  • Poulets – police, equivalent to pigs. In français standard, poulet is chicken.
  • Mec – guy.
  • Nana – chick.

And, my favourite, péter – to fart. Our teacher had a great laugh explaining this one, even drawing diagrams on the board!

Lucky there’s noone called Peter in my group!


Open wide, come inside, it’s international school

Sim and I went to a few school open days this weekend. No, we don’t have any big news to share – I’m looking for a job!

We visited three international/bilingual schools around Lyon, and came away with mostly positive feelings! I was a bit nervous at first – open days are more for families than job hunters – and I was worried about the reception we might receive. After explaining that no, we don’t have children we want to send to the school, we’re looking more in terms of employment for me, everyone was just lovely – French, English or otherwise! I met secretaries, teachers and principals and they were were all helpful and honest, with everything from how the school runs to whether they were recruiting (or not!) and where to send my cv!

One principal said that it’s a real catch 22, as they can’t employ me if I don’t have a work permit but I can’t get a work permit without a job! Another said that they weren’t recruiting for next year but that he’d pass my cv on to another international school that are. A teacher we talked to (all in French, mind you!) told me, when I expressed my worries about not being able to communicate effectively with French parents, that one of her colleagues doesn’t speak French well and that they all help each other.

We even met a lovely Australian teacher at one school, who’s married to a Frenchie. She’s been here for years, and her French is excellent – no trace of an Aussie accent! She’s my new inspiration!

One of the feelings we came away with is that I’d definitely be much more employable if I were married to Sim.

Maybe we will have some big news to share soon!


J’adore mon dictionnaire…

I’ve started my third week of Level B1 at uni, and it’s now too late to change to Level A2 (the level I skipped). We were introduced to the subjonctif today, and we had to write a film review including phrases in this mood – without using our verb dictionaries! I could’ve cried. I’m actually quite attached to my dictionary. I managed about half a page and two phrases in the subjonctif before our 45 minutes was up!

Yes, 12000 verbs, and how to conjugate them ALL!

The verb dictionary is one of the most valuable things a student of French can have, aside from a photographic memory or a French boy/girl friend. It lists all the verbs and how they’re used depending on the person, mood and tense you’re using (or trying to use). That’s around 40 different ways to use the one verb.

Did I mention that French is quite ridiculous complicated?


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