There are at least three different new year’s celebrations in Thailand, including the first of January, Chinese New Year, and Songkran, the actual Thai new year, in April. Here are a few pictures from the January 1st celebration at temples, and also at a bar.
Life in Chiang Mai is good. Not perfect – nothing is – but we like it here… There’s a reason this city is a hub for digital nomads. It’s easy to find good accommodation at reasonable prices, the food is awesome (who doesn’t love Thai food!), fresh fruit is plentiful and inexpensive, the city has a laid-back feel, the narrow streets are filled with tropical trees and flowers, there are beautiful temples everywhere, and the cats tend to look happy, which says a lot about how people treat them… I’ll let my pictures speak!
So while living in Thailand has lots of advantages, one aspect that can be annoying is the visa issue. Residents of Thailand have to leave the country often in order to extend their stay in the Land of Smiles. We did just that last weekend: a day-trip to Myanmar. While I enjoyed the beautiful scenery of northern Thailand, and the glimpse at a new country with incredibly friendly people (and delicious food), it was a long trip – 4 hours each way – and the freezing air-conditioning on the bus made me sick. Here are some pictures!
Texte en français:
Bien que la vie en Thaïlande ait beaucoup d’avantages, la question des visas est un des aspects moins agréables. Les résidents étrangers doivent régulièrement quitter le pays afin de prolonger leur séjour dans ce beau pays. C’est donc ce que nous avons fait le weekend dernier: un aller-retour au Myanmar, par une belle journée ensoleillée. J’ai beaucoup apprécié les superbes paysages des montagnes du nord de la Thaïlande, et je suis contente d’avoir pu passer quelques heures dans un nouveau pays où les gens sont super-gentils et la bouffe délicieuse! Mais le voyage était long (plus de huit heures de bus, au total) et l’air climatisé glacial du bus m’a donné le rhume. Mais bon, voilà des photos!
People learning French often say that sentences sound like one long word. How do you know where one word ends and another begins?
The big reason for this is the linkings called “enchaînements” and “liaisons”. These are not only normal, but actually required in French. When a word begins with a vowel sound, if you haven’t done an “elision”, you will normally do a “liaison” or an “enchaînement”. This means that a word that starts with a vowel, such as “ami”, will actually start with a consonant sound.
Wait, what??? Yes: the final consonant sound of the first word will move over to fuse with the initial vowel sound of the word that follows. Depending on the word that precedes it, “ami” will sound like “nami”, “tami”, or “zami”. Here is how this happens.
A “liaison” is when the final (and normally silent, see “Silent Letters”) consonant of a word is pronounced together with the initial vowel of the following word. This happens in groups of words that are linked together by meaning, for example:
- un ami (un-na-mi)
- mes amis (mé-za-mi)
- petit ami (pe-ti-ta-mi)
As you can see, when someone uses the word “ami” in a sentence, you will not hear “ami” but either “nami”, “zami”, or “tami”. Wait, it gets better!
Unlike “liaisons”, which are sometimes optional or forbidden, “enchaînements” are always done in normal speech, throughout the sentence and even across groups of words. Unlike “liaisons”, they do not add an extra sound, but merely rearrange the sounds.
When a word starts with a vowel sound, that vowel sound is linked with the last consonant sound of the previous word, effectively creating a new syllable. The second word now begins with the last sound of the first word! Here are a few examples to illustrate this:
- cinq amis (sin-ka-mi)
- nouvel ami (nou-vè-la-mi)
- leur ami (leu-ra-mi)
- même ami (mè-ma-mi)
- elle a (è-la)
- elle arrive à quelle heure? (è-la-ri-va-kè-leur)
- avec elle (a-vè-kèl)
- quel âge as-tu? (kè-la-ja-tu)
- il habite à Paris (i-la-bi-ta-pa-ri)
Here, you have new combinations with the word “ami”: kami, lami, rami, and mami!
These are a little different from the other types of linkings, as they do not merge sounds together into a new syllable. All this is, is when you have two or more vowels in contact, you try to pronounce them without your voice “cutting” in between them. This helps you sound more natural. For example:
- Tu as (tu-a)
- Tu es (tu-è)
- J’ai eu un problème. (jé-u-un..)
- Tu as une minute? (tu-a-une…)
- Il va au cinéma. (il-va-o…)
Here are some links if you want to read more about this:
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
One reason it is essential to learn new words along with their pronunciation is because of all the silent letters in French. Here is a summary:
1. THE FINAL “E”
The only final “e” that is pronounced is the pronoun “-le” in the imperative form (example: Regarde-le). Careful: “é” is not the same as “e”, and is always pronounced “é” (ay).
2. FINAL CONSONANTS
Most final consonants (another link here) are silent. The exceptions are easily remembered with the acronym CaReFuL: only C, R, F, and L are usually pronounced at the end of a word (but of course, there are many exceptions). The other consonants, especially S and T, are usually not pronounced at the end of a word – unless a “liaison” is required, but that’s a topic for another day!
3. “-ENT” VERB ENDINGS
The “-ent” verb ending is silent (“il mange” sounds the same as “ils mangent”), whereas those same letters are pronounced “an” (a nasal vowel) when they’re part of an adverb, such as souvent, lentement, etc.
4. THE LETTER “H”
The letter “h” is never pronounced in French, although it can be combined with another consonant to produce a different sound: ph = “f”, and ch = “sh” or “k”. But th = “t”, so here the “h” is really silent: théâtre, thé.
Yes, there is such a thing as “h muet” and “h aspiré”, but the difference between them, which are actually both SILENT, is simply whether or not you can do a “liaison” and “élision” when a word starts with “h” (l’hiver, le hamster).
5. THE “N” IN NASAL VOWELS
This is a tricky one: the “n” in nasal vowels (more links) is not usually pronounced – it’s only there to specify that the vowel before it has a nasal sound. The only time that this “n” is pronounced is if a “liaison” is required (un enfant, mon ami, on aime, il y en a).
So how do you recognize a nasal vowel? Simple: if you have an “n” or an “m” in a word, followed by a consonant sound, the vowel that comes before it is nasalized and the “n” or “m” becomes silent. And if a word ends in a vowel + “n”, that’s a nasal vowel and you don’t pronounce the “n”.
- an, manger, lampe, tente (but: âne, Suzanne, ami, menu)
- fin, ingénieur, impossible, bien, américain (but: fine, image, américaine)
- bon, regardons, information, tombe (but: bonne, fromage)
- un, brun, lundi, parfum (but: une, brune, allume)
I hope this helps! Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions!
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Whether you’re just starting to learn French or are getting back to it after several years, here are three recommendations that will make your task easier:
1. LEARN THE BASICS OF FRENCH PRONUNCIATION
You need to understand the different sounds and how they are spelled, silent letters (mostly at the end of words), and the very easy stress pattern of French – unlike English, which has word stress and sentence stress.
2. GET LOTS OF INPUT
Specifically, interesting comprehensible input (see Krashen’s theory of second language acquisition). Choose materials that are at your level, so that you can guess the meaning of the words you don’t know from the context. This goes for listening as well as reading. If listening, it’s helpful to have the transcription along with the audio or video file. Here are a couple good websites for listening and reading.
3. LISTEN TO SONGS
Who doesn’t like music? Discover a new world by listening to music in your new language! Your ears will get used to the sounds of French, and finding new music that you like will help you stay motivated to learn French. There are many ways to work with songs, so even if you don’t understand the meaning of all the words, you can still greatly improve your listening skills, as well as your subconscious knowledge of grammar and pronunciation. There are many listening exercises online.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!
Songs are a fun way to improve your listening skills and pronunciation. My students have used this method, and so have I. It has helped me achieve excellent pronunciation in Spanish, and I’ve been complimented on my pronunciation and reading speed in Korean, even though I’m a beginner! Here’s how to do it.
1. CHOOSE A SONG YOU LIKE
It’s best to start with slow songs. Once you’re used to this method, you can move on to faster and/or more difficult songs. It’s important to choose a song you like, because you will listen to it many times! You should enjoy the exercise.
2. LISTEN TO THE SONG
First, listen to the song once or twice, without trying to understand the words. Just enjoy the music!
3. FIND OR PRINT THE LYRICS (“PAROLES”, IN FRENCH)
You can read the lyrics before doing the exercise, but don’t worry too much about understanding the meaning. Now listen to the song again, but this time try to follow the lyrics as you hear the words. It will be difficult at first, because it’s a new skill for your brain to learn. You can start with the chorus, as it’s usually the easiest part since it’s repeated several times in the song. Do this every day until you can follow well: your ears and your eyes will work together. If you can learn the lyrics by heart, even better!
Once you can follow the words (lyrics), you can also start singing along. This will help your pronunciation. Try to sing exactly like the singer!
LINKS TO SONGS AND LYRICS
Here are a few links to songs and lyrics; you can also search on Youtube:
Songs in French:
Songs in English:
MEANING VS. PRONUNCIATION
For the purposes of this exercise, it’s OK if you don’t understand what the lyrics mean. The objective is to improve your listening skills, and also help you make the connection between how the words are written and how they are actually pronounced. This technique is especially useful for understanding the linking between words (called “enchaînements et liaisons” in French.)
A FINAL NOTE FOR FRENCH LEARNERS
You will notice that in songs, as in poetry, the final “e” is often pronounced, unlike in normal conversation. Remember not to do that when you speak!
I hope you enjoy working with songs! Let me know if you have any tips or advice.
Montreal is home, but I only pass through as a traveler, now…
Before flying home to Montreal, I enjoyed a quick vacation in Thailand.
Well, it’s time to say goodbye. I’ll miss you guys!!!
Here are a few of my favorite pictures of Busan.
Well, I’ve been busy with my new job, but it’s time for a quick update! Here are some cool moments with my kids. I love teaching them, they’re so smart and so cute!
Busan is beautiful in the spring, with cherry blossoms everywhere! Here are also some more pictures of my awesome kids, as well as various outings and birthday parties.
Here is my new school!
부산해운대에 새로 영어유치원과 창의놀이학원이 생겼습니다
And this is the school’s website:
Here are some pictures I’ve taken over the years in Canada, Mexico, Holland, Serbia, India, Thailand, Laos, Bali, and Korea. The cashew blossoms (India) are amazing, the lotus has the sweetest fragrance, and I love the flower mandala!
I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning up on my blog, and I’ve also added a new page, Travel, for a quick summary of this important part of my life. I really enjoy sharing my travel pictures, and I hope you enjoy them too!
Busan is the second-largest city in South Korea, with 3.6 million people, whereas Seoul has 10 million people, and over 20 million in the metropolitan area! Lovely Busan is located on the southern tip of the peninsula and has a coastal climate. Thus, when it snows elsewhere in Korea, it generally rains here! Here are some pictures of life in Busan, including:
- My friend Na Inju’s art, Human Drama – she’s a sculptor and installation artist;
- A takoyaki truck, selling octopus dumpling balls;
- Beautiful Haeundae Beach;
- Hot coals sitting outside of a restaurant, ready to cook some BBQ;
- Green tea noodles, kimchi jjigae, expensive maple syrup, and more!
Has anyone on the planet not heard of the song “Gangnam Style” yet? This fun video by South Korean singer Psy is now the most-watched video of all time on YouTube:
In October, I had the chance to attend a very inspiring talk by Stephen Krashen at Busan University of Foreign Studies. Krashen is an authority in the field of second language acquisition. He gave us a quick overview of his theory, with the five main hypotheses: Acquisition-Learning, Monitor, Natural Order, Input, and Affective Filter.
He repeated that to really acquire a language, comprehensible (and interesting) input is essential. He also mentioned that for beginners, good approaches include TPR, TPRS, and the Natural Approach. Finally, he talked about the importance of reading – for pure pleasure – especially once someone is past the beginner level.
It was a good reaffirmation of my teaching style! And I love that, in the right conditions, language acquisition is basically effortless for the learner…