The web, and the shelves of your local bookstore, are full of resources for getting introduced to the French language. Once you get to a more advanced level, it’s much more difficult to find good materials. One that I like is the 7 jours sur la planète app. Available for the iPhone and for Android, 7 jours gives you the following, every week:
- 3 TV news stories
- For each story:
- the film clip,
- an audio recording of the story,
- its transcription, and
- a selection of words from the story with monolingual definitions (i.e., definitions in French).
There’s also a vocabulary-learning game, although I’ve never really figured out how to use it in any amusing sort of way.
The topics of the news stories are always topical. (Is that a tautology? I think maybe it is, but can’t think of a better way to say it.) This week’s topics are:
- Umberto Eco (he just died)
- The territories of French Polynesia, which Hollande (the president at the time of writing) just visited
- A festival in Mali
As one of the reviewers on the Apple App Store pointed out, the words that they select to define are often not the ones that you would want. For example, in the story on the Malian festival, the words that the app defines include attaque, festival, lutte, and quartier, all of which I would think you would learn in French 101. However, the story also includes échassiers, fanfare, investir, orphelinat, and couche, all of which seem to me to be more advanced, and none of which get defined. (The word orphelinat is obscure enough that it actually appeared in a previous post on this blog.) However, since the whole thing is transcribed, it’s not difficult to identify words that even as a more advanced speaker, you might not know, and to then look them up elsewhere.
- l’échassier (n.m.): wading bird; tall, skinny person
- la fanfare: brass band; fanfare
- investir: to flood (several other meanings)
- l’orphelinat (n.m.): orphanage
- la couche: social class (several other meanings)
Tout commence par la traditionnelle parade. Des centaines de personnes suivent échassiers et marionnettes géantes au son de la fanfare. Pendant quatre jours, les artistes investissent les quartiers, les orphelinats, les villages alentours.
Everything starts with the traditional parade. Hundreds of people follow stilt-walkers and giant puppets to the sound of the brass band. For four days, artists flood the neighborhoods, the orphanages, the surrounding villages.
On permet aux couches défavorisées, à toute personne sans distinction, de pouvoir vivre la culture…
This lets the disadvantaged classes, every person without distinction, to be able to live the culture…