Weird French Learning Things, Thanks Siri!

Weird French Learning Things, Thanks Siri! April 4, 2014

Maison Kammerzell, Strasbourg, France
Or you could go to Strasbourg. Which would be better.

Three weird ways to practice your French:

1. Siri!  Ideal for pronunciation practice.  Change the language setting to French (or whatever you want to practice, I suppose).  You get a double-confirmation of your pronunciation, because you can see what Siri thought you said (results may amuse), and you get an attempted answer, because Siri’s so helpful that way.  Works great for Siri-genre everyday phrases, like Quel temps fait-il, Siri? or J’ai faim, Siri.  Plus she’s so much fun to talk to, and you can hear what she says back, so, ear-training.

2. Poirot.  Now streaming on Netflix, thank you generous in-laws.  Something people tend to overlook: To train your ear, it is useful to hear your own language (presumably English, in this case) spoken with the accent of the language you are trying to learn.  I kid not, it helps.  Plus Poirot sprinkles in tons of little French phrases.  Good edutainment fodder for the first-year student.

Parents & Teachers, please note these are murder mysteries adapted by the BBC, preview accordingly.  I didn’t say they were good moral training, necessarily.  For g-rated, a DVD series that uses the native-accent thing to good effect is Bonjour Les Amis! Oh, Moustache! Non, Moustache!

3. Les Malheurs de Sophie, now free on Kindle and at Project Gutenberg.  It’s a 19th century set of morality tales about a very naughty little girl.  Wikipedia tells us it’s been used by English school girls for translation practice ever since, and yes, it’s ideally suited for just such a task.

I haven’t read the whole thing, so I can’t tell you just how weird it gets, but assume: Weird.  And look, YouTube has the animated adaptation up.  I couldn’t make myself watch more than a few minutes, but if you’re looking for Lenten penance and those horrid Anne of Green Gables cartoons are too much for you, Sophie is the same genre but not quite so painful.  Nettles-lite, or maybe the Rocky Horror Picture Show of g-rated French language learning.


Yeah, I know, this is an odd subject to resume blogging after the recent bout of radio silence.  Well now you know how I’ve spent the forced rest.  Poirot, yes, Sophie, no.  I’ll try to blog on something controversial soon, though I’m sure my readers have strong opinions about weird foreign language things.  Yes?  Have I pegged you accurately?



Photo credit:  Maison Kammerzell, via Wikimedia CC 3.0

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