I’ll have a breu-nee, please.

One of the funniest things I do on an almost daily basis is pronounce English words with a French accent so that French people will understand me. This most often happens with food: I’m currently sitting in a café waiting for the Ee-reesh Crem (“Irish Cream,”  on the menu) Latté that I clumsily attempted to order with…

Two-Day Wander: Toulouse, Niaux Caves, and Carcassonne

As the calendar flips by and I get used to the probability that my geographical future lies outside France, I start to feel a sort of constant, creeping urgency. It’s forced me to focus on more fully exploring France. Ironically, this effort to pull away without regrets makes it harder to pull away at all.  My latest jaunt took me to the southwest, to the…

11 TAPIF Must-Dos

If you’ve decided to embark on the Teaching Assistant Program in France, chances are you already have the travel bug and an interest in deeply discovering a foreign place instead of skimming its surface like the average tourist. There are lots of ways to take advantage of your resident expatriate status while living abroad and to do…

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…

What ze ‘ell? French Habits You Won’t Find on a List of Stereotypes

Many Americans have a mental image of “French Life” that runs somewhere along these lines: smoking at outdoor café tables, bicycling alongside a river with a baguette under an arm, wearing scarves and generally looking “chic,” drinking wine while discussing culture and art. And of course, all of this takes place with the Eiffel Tower as backdrop,…

Faire la Bise: An American Nightmare

I just took a bite out of the lovely nose of a very attractive acquaintance. No, this was not a victory, a spontaneous and aggressive flirtation. This was a bise failure. Widely mocked in American pop culture, the bise, or cheek-kiss, is real. Any French person, upon meeting stranger or friend, will bump cheeks and make kissing…

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…