Friday, February 6, 2015

DAC Intermediate French Weeks 11-17

Bonjour à tous!

Congratulations to all the kids for completing the first TALK semester of the 2014-2015 academic year! And to the new students who have moved to our class from the beginner class, bienvenue! Among tons of holidays over the past couple of months, we managed to get through a few major topics, notably animals, Christmas, clothing, and food. Here is a list of the words, phrases, and expressions that we learned over the past few weeks:

Le Noël (Christmas):

During the last week of December (décembre), we learned a bunch of Christmas-related words by listening to the French version of the popular song "O Christmas Tree." The kids retained these words very well, after a series of trivia games we played that week. Here is the video, if you would like to show it to your kids:

In class, I mostly covered the first verse. Here are the lyrics and their translations:

Mon beau sapin, roi des forêts / My beautiful pine tree, king of the forests
Que j'aime ta verdure / How I like (love) your greenery
Quand par l'hiver, bois et guérets / When by the wintertime, woods and tilled lands
Sont dépouillés de leurs attraits / Are stripped of their attractive traits
Mon beau sapin, roi des forêts / My beautiful pine tree, king of the forests
Tu gardes ta parure / You keep (hold on to) your finery

The words that I focused on in particular were le sapin (the pine tree), le roi (the king), la forêt (the forest), j'aime (I like), la verdure (greenery/greenness), l'hiver (the winter), and la lumière (the light). I introduced the other words as well, but these are the ones that I would like the kids to retain above the others. Notice how the words verdure and vert (green) resemble each other!

Les animaux (animals):

We covered animals over the course of about a week and a half. I am very impressed by how well the kids know their animals already and how well they picked up new names. This is clearly a topic that they enjoy. Here is a list of the words that we covered. I realize that fish is not an insect, amphibian, or reptile. Please ignore that categorization as you read this list.

Les mammifères - mammals:
Un chien - a dog Une vache - a cow
Un chat - a cat Un cochon - a pig
Un singe - a monkey Un tigre - a tiger
Une souris - a mouse Un lion - a lion
Une chauve-souris - a bat Un guépard - a cheetah
Un lapin - a rabbit Un éléphant - an elephant
Un zèbre - a zebra Un loup - a wolf
Un cheval - a horse Un ours - a bear
Un âne - a donkey Un renard - a fox
Une chèvre - a goat Une girafe - a giraffe
Un mouton - a sheep Une baleine - a whale
Un agneau - a lamb Un dauphin - a dolphin

Les oiseaux - birds:
Un poussin - a chick Un canard - a duck
Une poule - a hen Une oie - a goose
Un coq - a rooster Un corbeau - a crow
Une dinde - a female turkey Un aigle - an eagle
Un dindon - a male turkey Un hibou - an owl

Les insectes, les amphibiens et les reptiles - insects, amphibians, and reptiles:

Un poisson - a fish Une mouche - a fly
Une tortue - a turtle Un papillon - a butterfly
Un serpent - a snake Une abeille - a bee
Une fourmi - an ant Une araignée - a spider

Throughout this unit, I have introduced some interesting ways to remember these names. The name for the bat (chauve-souris), for instance, literally means bald mouse. The first syllable for the word frog (grenouille) is also pronounced as if you have a frog in your throat. The word for bee (abeille) is stressed on the second syllable, which could be interpreted to sound like its English equivalent. As one of our very observant students pointed out, you can also think of an arachnid when trying to reach the word araignée.

The verbs that I introduced in this unit include nager (to swim) and voler (to fly). In the first person singular, "I swim" would be je nage and "I fly" would be je vole. In the second person plural (or polite second person singular), "you swim" would be vous nagez and "you fly" would be vous volez. Those are the only forms that I focused on introducing, as the majority of the other ones are pronounced in the same way as the first person singular even though they are written differently.

As far as pronunciation goes, the word hibou (owl) is a very particular case. Normally, words that begin with the letter h are treated as if it begins with a vowel since the h is not pronounced, and often times the silent consonants that precede it are pronounced for phonetic purposes, much like how the "a" in English changes to an "an" in front of a vowel. Or, occasionally, extra consonants are added or vowels eliminated or contracted for a similar purpose. However, there is a subgroup of words in French that possess an h aspiré, which, contrary to its name, is not actually aspirated or pronounced, but in its grammatical context, it is treated as if it were. Hibou is one of those words. This concept may be a bit too complicated for the kids to grasp, but it is an important one. For those of you who want to be an active part of your children's language learning lives, this is great to know. Just to give an example, a normal French h would be seen in the word hôpital. To say "the hospital," we would contract the article to give l'hôpital because it begins with a vowel sound. But for hibou it is not that case. Even though it also begins with a vowel sound, "the owl" would be le hibou.

Les vêtements (clothing):

Our clothing unit was fairly straightforward. The majority of the words I introduced in this unit were part of the beginning French curriculum, and the ones that are not are still in the links that Rachel posted in her previous blog post. Those links are awesome, and kudos to Rachel for taking the time to find them! I highly, highly recommend using those sites to see a list of common clothing and accessories and to hear how those words are pronounced.

During this unit, we played a game of telephone, in which I would say a sentence containing the clothing item. After each run, I would say the sentence out loud and pass around a slip of paper with both the original sentence and the translated version. The funniest end result was "It's a pow that eats a pun." For the record, here were the actual sentences that I gave:
  • Le cache-oreilles cache les oreilles. / Earmuffs hide the ears (play on words).
  • Un gant sans doigts est une moufle. / A glove without fingers is a mitten.
  • Les hommes gros ne portent pas de ceinture. / Fat men do not wear belts.
  • L'écharpe et le collier entourent le cou. / The scarf and the necklace surround the neck.
  • Je vois mieux quand je porte des lunettes. / I see better when I wear glasses.
  • A la plage, je porte un maillot de bain. / At the beach, I wear a swimsuit.
  • Mes chaussures et mes chaussettes sont noires. / My shoes and my socks are black.

La nourriture (food):

Finally, last week (la semaine dernière), we did food. I can definitely see why the beginning curriculum has several weeks dedicated to this topic, as there are so many words and concepts involved! The intermediate curriculum has less time to spend on this, but I will be sure to keep introducing and reinforcing the words and concepts that I have not had as much time to cover.

Les fruits - fruits:
Une pomme - an apple Une prune - a plum
Une poire - a pear Un raisin - a grape
Une banane - a banana Un abricot - an apricot
Une pêche - a peach Une cerise - a cherry
Une orange - an orange Une framboise - a raspberry
Un citron - a lemon Une myrtille - a blueberry
Un pamplemousse - a grapefruit Une fraise - a strawberry
Un ananas - a pineapple Une pastèque - a watermelon

Interesting facts: 1) I've always known blueberries as les bleuets. It wasn't until I saw Rachel's blog post that I decided to look it up and found out that the word I knew was more characteristic of Canadian French, while les myrtilles is more French French. Very perplexing, as I have never been to Canada. 2) In high school, I had a classmate who loved the word pamplemousse so much that he would use it whenever he could, even in contexts where it did not logically make sense. I gave the kids some examples of the weird things this classmate of mine used to say. They did not seem amused...but it did help them remember, or so it seemed.

Les légumes - vegetables:
La tomate - tomato La salade/la laitue - lettuce
La carotte - carrot Le chou - cabbage
Le céleri - celery Le chou-fleur - cauliflower
Le poivron rouge - red bell pepper Les choux de Bruxelles - Brussels sprouts
Le poivron vert - green bell pepper Le brocoli - broccoli
Le piment - chili pepper L'ail - garlic
Le maïs - corn L'oignon - onion
La courge - squash Le radis - radish
La courgette - zucchini La citrouille - pumpkin
Le haricot - bean La pomme de terre - potato
Les haricots verts - green beans Le concombre - cucumber
Les petits pois - peas Les épinards - spinach
Le champignon - mushroom/fungi L'aubergine - eggplant

Interesting facts: 1) Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are derived from the same plant species via artificial selection. The fact that all of these terms in French (aside from brocoli) contain the word chou is not a coincidence. 2) Usage of the word chou extends beyond even that! Un chou à la crème is a cream puff, parents call their kids mon chou as an affectionate term, and according to my former professor, when French kids ask their parents where babies come from, the answer is that they come from the chou! Very versatile word indeed! 3) The word for potato (pomme de terre) literally means "apple of earth."

Les produits d'origine animale - animal products:
Le poulet - chicken Les produits laitiers - dairy products
Le bœuf - beef Le fromage - cheese
Le porc - pork Le beurre - butter
La saucisse - sausage La crème - cream
Le jambon - ham Le yaourt - yogurt
Le poisson - fish La glace - ice cream
L'œuf - egg La viande - meat
Le lait - milk Le miel - honey

Interesting facts: 1) The letter "f" in the word for egg (œuf) is pronounced in its singular form but silent in its plural form (œufs). In addition, the vowel in this word is slightly more open when it is singular than when it is plural. Another word with a similar pronunciation trend (that I did not teach the kids) is the word for bone (os). 2) There is a common joke that goes: Q: Why do the French only have one egg for breakfast? A: Because one egg is un œuf ("enough" in a French accent). 3) It is said that a score of zero in tennis is called "love" because a zero resembles an egg in shape, and "the egg" en français is l'œuf (sounds similar to love).

Les boissons - drinks:
L'eau - water Le café - coffee
Le jus - juice Le thé - tea
Le cidre - cider Le chocolat chaud - hot chocolate

Interesting fact (or perhaps a joke): have you ever seen a cafe with a pricing like this? Apparently it pays to be polite in France!

Les ingrédients - ingredients
La farine - flour Le poivre - pepper
Le sucre - sugar Le beurre - butter
Le sel - salt Le miel - honey

Les plats préparés - prepared dishes:
Le pain - bread La nourriture pour chien - dog food
Le riz - rice La nourriture pour chat - cat food
La pizza - pizza Le dessert - dessert
Les pâtes - pasta La cacahuète - peanut
Les lasagnes - lasagna Le gâteau - cake 
Le croque-monsieur Le croissant - croissant
Le crêpe - crepe Le pain au chocolat - chocolate croissant
Les frites - fries Le chou à la crème - cream puff
La soupe - soup Le macaron - macaron
Les céréales - cereal (or grain) La madeleine - madeleine

Interesting facts: 1) The croque-monsieur is basically a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, served in cafes, carnivals, etc. as a snack. If you add a poached egg on top, it will be called a croque-madame. 2) Caca technically means poop...I never actually planned to tell the kids this, but one of our kids already knew it and started laughing when she heard the "caca" in cacahuète (peanut), which changed the game plan a little. Strange or not, it can be an interesting way to remember this word.

Recently, I've taken to playing some team trivia games with the kids, which I've noticed have improved their listening comprehension skills considerably. Here are some examples of the questions I asked pertaining to foods:

Q: Quel type de viande vient d'un cochon? D'une vache? / What type of meat comes from a pig? From a cow?
A: Le porc et le bœuf / pork and beef

Q: Qu'est-ce que vous faites quand vous avez soif? / What do you do when you are thirsty?
A: Je bois. / I drink.

Q: Un sandwich avec du jambon et du fromage s'appelle...? / A sandwich with ham and cheese is called...?
A: Un croque-monsieur

Q: Quels sont deux types de légumes qui sentent mauvais? / What are two types of vegetables that smell bad?
A: L'ail et l'oignon / garlic and onion

Q: Quels sont les trois repas de la journée? / What are the three meals of the day?
A: Le petit-déjeuner, le déjeuner et le dîner / breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Q: Le chou appartient à la même espèce que quels autres légumes? / Cabbage belongs to the same species as which other vegetables?
A: Le chou-fleur, les choux de Bruxelles et le brocoli / cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli

Q: Comment dit-on "spinach?" / How do you say spinach?
A: Les épinards / spinach

Q: Si vous êtes végétarien ou végétarienne, qu'est-ce que vous ne mangez pas? / If you are vegetarian, what do you not eat?
A: La viande / meat

Q: Que mangent les singes? / What do monkeys eat?
A: Des bananes / bananas

Q: Qu'est-ce que vous faites quand vous avez faim? / What do you do when you are hungry?
A: Je mange. / I eat.

Q: Quel est le produit laitier qu'on mange quand il fait chaud? / What is the dairy product that one eats when it is hot?
A: La glace / ice cream

Q: De quelle couleur sont les myrtilles? / What color are blueberries?
A: Les myrtilles sont bleues. / Blueberries are blue.

Q: Un concombre ressemble à une...? / A cucumber looks like a...?
A: Courgette / zucchini

I've been working these types of trivia questions into all kinds of team games: tic-tac-toe, four in a row, snakes and ladders, destroy-the-opponent's-face (not as bad as it sounds...more like a giant game of reverse hangman), jeopardy, etc. The most awesome thing is: last week I gave each member of the winning team in jeopardy a chance to pick an activity for this week, and trivia actually came up as one of the suggestions! One of my goals is then to expand and find new ways and new games that can incorporate trivia and/or any non-trivia ways to get to this level of listening practice. I am always open to suggestions if anyone has any ideas.

Another simple (perhaps too simple for this class) but catchy song related to food:

Je suis une pizza / I am a pizza
Avec du fromage / With cheese
Beaucoup de sauce / Lots of sauce
Des tomates / Some tomatoes
Des oignons, des champignons / Some onions, some mushrooms
Epices mélangées / Mixed spices
Je suis une pizza / I am a pizza
Prête à manger! / Ready to eat!

Je suis une pizza / I am a pizza
Pepperoni / Pepperoni
Pas d'anchois / No anchovies
Ou phoney baloney / Or phony boloney (not real French)
Je suis une pizza / I am a pizza
Téléphone-moi / Call me
Je suis une pizza / I am a pizza
Apporte-moi chez toi! / Bring me to your place!

Je suis une pizza / I am a pizza
Du poivron vert / With green pepper
Je vais du four / I go from the oven
Jusqu'à la boîte / All the way to the box
Dans la voiture / In the car
A l'envers / Upside down
Je suis une pizza / I am a pizza
Tombée par terre! / Fallen to the ground

J'étais une pizza / I was a pizza
Trésor de la cuisine / Treasure of the kitchen
Je suis une pizza / I am a pizza
Tombée en ruine...oh là là! / Fallen oh my!

In other news, during the first week of the second TALK semester, we covered questions while simultaneously reviewing food. I am impressed at the ease at which the students picked up this complicated topic. If you would like to review questions with your kids, I found this website that offers a very straightforward explanation: In class, I mostly covered the "est-ce que" forms in addition to the questioning words qui (who), comment (how), pourquoi (why),  (where), quoi (what-object), quel/quels/quelle/quelles (which and what-subject), and quand (when). I may post more examples later, but until then, amusez-vous bien, et à la semaine prochaine!

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