OK so I’ve had a bit of an epiphany! French grammar has never been my strong point but I’ve just found a nifty trick that will help. I have always been a ‘let a load of French words tumble out of my mouth and see if anyone understands me’ kind of French speaker. I have certainly never taken the time to work out which nouns are masculine or feminine. To me it seemed an impossible task that I was never going to win. But guess what? There is a pattern to this part of the mysterious recipe that is French Grammar!
It turns out that French nouns that have specific endings are all (or mostly) always either masculine or feminine. All we have to do is learn which endings are which and then put them into practise.
So here goes:
Here are the French noun endings which are usually feminine:
-aison : la liaison;
-ale : la cathédrale (the cathedral);
-ance : la connaissance (the knowledge);
-ence : la patience (the patience);
-ole : la parole (the word);
-sion : la mission (the mission);
-té : la légèreté (lightness);
-tion : la traduction (the translation);
-ude : la certitude (the certainty);
-ure : la culture (the culture.
And here are French noun endings which are usually masculine:
-asme : l’enthousiasme (the enthusiasm);
-isme : le nationalisme (the nationalism);
-eau : le couteau (the knife);
-ment : le gouvernement (the government);
-acle : le spectacle (the show).
Of course there are more French nouns with different endings than those listed above, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves eh? That’s enough for me to be going on with at least. I got these French grammar tips from French Lab .
I’m using this blog to chart the progress of my French learning journey. I intend to dramatically improve my French language skills over the next 3 months I want to find out if there really is a secret to fast tracking learning a language.
When I was at school we had our obligatory once weekly French lesson and even though I managed to score an A at GCSE I was still only able to ask for a “kilo de pommes”! I always remember feeling a bit of a cheat when people asked how I did in my French GSCE as the score absolutely didn’t reflect my ability. My French was not even at beginners French level, it was virtually non existent!
Over the years I have travelled quite a bit and even lived in Paris for a while after I left university. I managed to survive linguistically in Paris through a mixture of mime (something I secretly enjoyed, I trained to be an actress later on) and a few stock French phrases I’d picked up – not all of them fit for use in public having learnt them from my cafe co-workers. However the speed of my French learning was going at rather less than a snails pace, in fact if it had been a snail it would have been snatched up and cooked in garlic it was so slow! To say the least I was a long, long way off being able to say that I spoke and understood French fluently.
Teaching myself French
As well as acting I make my money through teaching people how to learn English. Now I have come to realise that the art of learning and teaching is a fascinating process. You know that saying by Socrates – “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” – well when I’m giving English lessons I have a similar philosophy – I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only feed their desire to learn. I plan to transfer that attitude into my own French learning methods.
If you have read my about me page you will know that my husband and I moved to France a couple of years ago. You might think that would mean job done, French language in the bag. Unfortunately, although I can now operate at a better level than I did when I was first in Paris, the French I speak is still not up to scratch.
Many expats here do muddle along with their basic survival French, however I really want to make my English teaching business thrive and that involves speaking French to an array of different people that I’d quite like to impress just a little bit, and that will definitely require some serous French learning hours!
So far I have followed an immersion method without any lessons which basically means I’ve been picking up different French vocabulary and phrases as I. My French learning hasn’t been totally static since I’ve been here but it really does need a good nudge to get it to the next level. That is why I have decided use myself as an experiment in how best to learn French and hopefully find out what method will improve my French the fastest?
My French Learning Goals
As I mentioned before I would like to expand my English teaching business and in order to do that I need to be able to speak with HR and training managers in perhaps not perfect French, but at least fairly grammatically correct French.
My French learning routine at the moment consists of listening to French people and picking up new phrases, watching French tv and looking up the occasional word in the dictionary.
So here is what I have to work with so far for my French language speaking abilities:
GCSE French – but really doesn’t count!
Working in a cafe in Paris when I was 21 years old – managed to pick up some rudimentary phrases and also a fair amount of slang terms – can be awkward these days when I address the mayor like he’s a gangster!!
2 years living in France – in these two years I have made a lot of improvement however I am still not totally fluent. I have only ever had one half hour lesson which is silly of me, however moving countries can be an expensive business so it has always been something I’ve put off.
Also (not trying to make too many excuses here but…) as I’m an English teacher I spend all day speaking English with people.
Here is what I would like to be able to achieve after my French learning blitz:
To be able to hold a proper business conversation with a French person and for them not to look strangely at me at any point during the meeting!
I’m giving myself 3 months to get up to scratch as I need to go to those business meetings. I will find a free French testing app to keep track of my progress and let you know about it in my next blog post.
I may add to these goals over time but I think that’s enough to be going on with for the moment.
Well that’s all for now. Thanks for reading so far and bookmark my blog to follow my journey. I’ll be putting up any useful resources I find on the way.