Archive for October, 2011

Take a risk (#304)

There’s only one way to build speaking confidence in your new language.

By taking risks.

If you lack confidence in French, start taking risks. Walk up to people and ask for the time in French. Ask others where the metro station is, or the nearest bank. When that gets easy, tell someone standing at the bus stop that you like their shoes. You don’t live in Quebec? Call the French line of a 1-800 number and ask for product information. Become a guide for a French-speaking newcomer to your city.

You’ll make mistakes. Maybe you’ll forget a word. It doesn’t matter. Building confidence isn’t about being perfect. It’s about throwing yourself into new situations over and over again, and seeing that the world doesn’t come to an end just because you misconjugated a verb.

This isn’t school.

You won’t build speaking confidence by stuyding just one more page of grammar, by reviewing just one more vocabulary list, or by reading just one more entry on this blog. (There’s nothing wrong with these things, just don’t confuse learning about French with building confidence in French.)

Go. Take a risk.

Then do it again.

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Ça parle de quoi? (#303)

You’re reading a book. A friend sees you with the book in your hands and wants to know what it’s about. Your friend might ask you in French:

Ça parle de quoi, ton livre?
What’s your book about?

Or maybe you tell a friend that you’ve started a new blog. If your friend wanted to know more about your blog, you might be asked:

Ça parle de quoi, ton blogue?
What’s your blog about?

In a scene from Les Parent, Olivier is singing along to a song whose lyrics bother his mother. She interrupts him to ask him what song he’s listening to (C’est quoi la chanson que t’es en train d’écouter?), then she asks him what it’s about (Ça parle de quoi?).

The expression ça parle de quoi? can be used anywhere in the French-speaking world to ask about the subject matter of a book, movie, show, song, website, blog, magazine…

[This entry was inspired by the series Les Parent, “Fréquentations douteuses,” season 4, episode 4, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 3 October 2011.]

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Here’s another clip from the VideoHockeyQuebec YouTube channel. Even if hockey doesn’t interest you, I still recommend you learn some basic vocabulary related to it if you plan on living in Quebec! In this clip, the speaker talks about how to maintain balance when an opponent makes physical contact.

If you can’t see the video above, watch it here on YouTube.

Un joueur pousse sur les hanches et sur les épaules de son partenaire et tente de le déséquilibrer. Trépied solide utilisant le bâton comme troisième appui, appui solide du pied opposé à la mise en échec, plier le genou et s’abaisser du côté du contact, établir une ligne droite entre la jambe d’appui et le pied à l’endroit du contact sont les points clés d’enseignement. Le groupe à droite démontre quelques erreurs communes : le bâton n’est pas devant le joueur, la base n’est pas assez large, le tronc est trop fléchi vers l’avant.

le bâton, stick
la mise en échec, body check
le tronc, torso
fléchi vers l’avant, bent forward

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An excellent YouTube channel for those of you who want to learn some French hockey expressions and vocab through videos: VideoHockeyQuebec. In the clip below, the speaker talks about checking into the boards, or donner de la bande in French. I’ll try to do more of these videos in future entries.

If you can’t see the video above, watch it here on YouTube.

Une punition mineure ou, à la discrétion de l’arbitre, une punition majeure et extrême inconduite selon le degré de violence de l’impact contre la bande seront imposées à tout joueur qui met en échec un adversaire de façon à ce que ce dernier soit projeté violemment contre la bande. Un joueur qui va frapper un adversaire en se dirigeant vers lui dans un angle mort, de sorte que le porteur de la rondelle ne peut aucunement le voir, sera puni avec vigueur.

donner de la bande, to check into the boards
inconduite, misconduct
contre la bande,
against the boards
mettre en échec, to check
la rondelle, the puck

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In this article published yesterday by Radio-Canada, we find three different nicknames for the Canadiens de Montréal:

  • le Canadien
  • le CH
  • le Tricolore

The team can be referred to in either the singular or plural in French: le Canadien or les Canadiens. The singular form is a sort of nickname. The nickname le CH comes from the team logo. (The H stands for hockey, not “Habs.”) The nickname le Tricolore comes from the three team colours: red, white and blue.


Le Canadien a affronté les Bruins.
Le CH a triomphé des Bruins.
Le Tricolore a remporté le match.

affronter, to play against
triompher de quelqu’un,
to triumph over someone
remporter le match, to win the game

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