A lectrice…what is that?

The best English translation of my French job title is “adjunct professor,” which seems slightly too fancy, considering my lack of advanced degree. Based on what I hear from other lecteurs and lectrices, the position varies somewhat from university to university but, in a coquille de noix, I’m a teaching member of the English department at a…

TAPIF Invasion: 10 Ways to Frappe the Ground Running

It’s that time of year: young anglophones lugging bulging suitcases suddenly appear in airports and train stations all over France, many of them employing a version of the local language that exists only in textbooks (and some of them, if we’re being honest, speaking what can only generously be called franglais). The TAPIF invasion has begun!…

Parlez-vous Netflix?

I’ve found the landscape for language-learning to be pretty bleak beyond intermediate levels– even dynamic apps like Duolingo seem to exist in a pedagogical vacuum, lacking personality, real-world application, and the joy of discovery that comes with more organic exploration of a language. Considering the fuzzy, fluctuating borders of a language, it’s easy to see how content gets…

Indiana Jones and the Missing Apostille of Doom

When I submitted my application for the Carte Vitale, the infuriatingly elusive piece of plastic entitling me to the medical benefits for which I already pay taxes, I was told that it would be processed within three weeks. That was more than three months ago. Still, hope flickered last week when I received an envelope emblazoned with “Carte…

Fatal Phonemes and Emphasis Disasters

The ability to imitate an accent without making mistakes is rare, even among people who are paid boatloads of money to do it. Only a near-superhuman can avoid falling into sticky phoneme and stress traps unique to their linguistic background. For some language-nerd schadenfreude, here are a few recent endearing slip-ups I’ve come across while trashy tv-watching (mostly native Anglophones trying to…

How I Ran Away to France, the First (and Second) Time: TAPIF

I can’t remember when I first decided that I wanted to flee the country and live abroad for a while – it may have been a part of my craving for language and cultural immersion as a French department nerd in high school, or a side effect of the travel bug, which bit me hard even before that. It…

French Tact

The following is loosely translated from French: Me: So, what else do you want to ask the American [pen pal] class? 10-year old French student: Are you fat? Me: That’s not a very nice question- and it’s also a stereotype. French student: Write it, write it! Me: They’re going to think French students are very…