Free thoughts on language learning

Discussions on learning Spanish, English and other language issues. Occasionally, we may stray from language learning topics if there is something that catches my interest.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Feb.'s Free Language Courses? Send suggestions!

It's time to let us know what courses (2 thanks) we should make available free of charge for the month of February.  All the neat dialogue, vocabulary, grammar and cultural enrichment you can cram into a month of studying the way cool courses on

.  You can send us your thoughts by leaving a comment here or emailing support (the "at" sign)  If we don't get much input we'll just choose...

Friday, January 12, 2007

French Manners - It's a minefield out there

Kermit the Frog said, "It's not easy being green" but it appears that being polite in France these days is tough for natives and foreigners alike.  As reported in yesterday's   the French are waging a war (would it be called a civil war or civility war?) to restore manners to French society.  The Paris transit authority, the Hospital Federation of France, the Ministry of Education all have their initiatives to get people to behave better.

Here's a snippet from the article:

In the perfect French world, rules govern even the most mundane subjects: how to answer the telephone, how to greet a guest at the door, how to address a stranger, what to take to a dinner party, how to behave on the Métro.

“It’s like a sport, you have to train hard,” said Marie de Tilly, a rail-thin expert on manners, who teaches a two-hour course in Paris to women who pay $90 to attend. “But once you train and know the rules, it all comes naturally.”

All can be lost in that first moment of acquaintance, Ms. de Tilly told a group of French and American women during a session last month in a hotel room adorned in brocade and silk.

“In the first 20 seconds, others will judge your look, in the second 20 seconds your behavior and the third 20 seconds your first words,” she said. “There is a code. If you don’t follow it properly, it will be very, very hard to make a comeback.”

For those of you who cannot get enough of manner-mania I found a book on Amazon to give you another dose on the subject.

Money, Morals, and Manners: The Culture of the French and the American Upper-Middle Class

French students!  Don't forget to try our Free French 3 course during January.  See the prior post of January 5th.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Free French and English Courses for January

It's a new year and a great time to act on your resolve to improve that second language. We have made our French 3 course and our English 4 course available for all of January. Naturally, we offer grammar, vocabulary, expressions galore but we also have articles on cultural topics, music and videos. (Videos in our free content areas) To try out these courses log in using:

Password: parlo (all lower case - don't change this please)

Password: parlo (all lower case - dont' change this please)

You can go to Parlo today to start using this or the english course.

Here's the audio and transcription of the first dialogue in our French 3 course. (when the dialogue is done the previous podcast will begin. You can: a)Quick! Shut him off. or b)Hmm... what's that one about? - yer choice. Enjoy!

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Oliver:Qu'est-ce que tu prends, Malik?

What are you having, Malik?
Malik:Un petit café, comme d'habitude.

A coffee, as usual.
Olivier:Un express et un crème, s'il vous plaît.
An espresso and a latte, please.
Malik:C'est bizarre, cette histoire de vol.
This whole theft thing is strange.
Olivier:A ton avis, c'est quelqu'un que nous connaissons?
Do you think it's someone that we know?
Malik: En tout cas, c'est quelqu'un qui nous connaît!
In any case, it's someone who knows us!
Olivier:Tu crois que c'est le type qui a raconté des blagues toute la soirée?

You think it's the guy who was telling jokes all evening?
Malik:Ah, ton copain que je ne peux pas supporter!

Ah, your friend that I can't stand!
Olivier:Mon copain, mon copain, c'est vite dit...On joue au foot ensemble, c'est tout.

My friend, my friend, that's going too far... We play soccer together, that's all.
Malik:Non, ce n'est pas lui que je suspecte.

No, he's not the one that I suspect.
Olivier:Alors qui?

Who then?
Malik:C'est peut-être l'architecte, qu' Elodie adore.

It might be the architect, that Elodie adores.
Olivier:Thierry Lagrange, qui a des millions à la banque, vole des montres et des ordinateurs portables! Un peu de sérieux, Malik.
Thierry Lagrange, who has millions in the bank, steals watches and portable computers! Be serious, Malik.
Malik:Il est peut-être cleptomane.

He might be a cleptomaniac.
Olivier:Qu'est-ce que ça veut dire, déjê?

What does that mean again?
Malik:Quelqu'un qui a la manie du vol.

Someone who has a stealing habit.
Olivier:A propos, oò est mon paquet de cigarettes?

By the way, where is my pack of cigarettes?
Malik:Ah, c'est ton paquet...Euh, excuse-moi, il est dans ma poche.

Oh, it's your pack... uh, I'm sorry, it's in my pocket.
Olivier:Je suis désolé, Malik, mais le cleptomane, c'est toi. Je vais tout dire ê Vanessa.

Sorry Malik, but you are the cleptomaniac. I'm going to tell Vanessa everything.
Malik:Très amusant, Olivier. Dis, qu'est-ce qu'il y a dans ses fameuses cassettes?

Very funny, Olivier. Tell me, what is on her famous tapes?
Olivier:Essayons d'imaginer...Une déclaration d'amour? Une chanson? Une mystérieuse confession...
Let's try to imagine...a declaration of love? a song? a mysterious confession?
Malik:Shut, tais-toi, elle arrive...

Hush, be quiet. She's coming