Qu’est-que tu a une stylo dans la salle de bain?

Translation: What do you have a pen in the bathroom?

Rusty, bit much? Si, senior. That’s why I decided to do something about it.

My paternal great-grandparents hail from France. They immigrated to Manitoba and my grandfather (whom I have never met as he died when my dad was 14) was born here. When my dad was little he had to speak to my great-grandparents en français and not a lick of English. French language education is mandatory grades 4-6 and an option afterward; my parents made me take it all the way up until the 10th grade until I bailed after. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had enough.

I could understand it and write it, but I could barely speak in proper sentences. I couldn’t conjugate the verbs… have you tried conjugating French verbs? Tu as, il as… Yeah, no bueno. I was a straight A+ student in French class despite my broken sentences. My problem? It was never spoken at home. My parents wanted me to take it because of my French background and in case I had a job where it was required. By the 10th grade I was becoming bored, tired and sick of French. My teacher begged me to stay because I was her star student, but why should I when I couldn’t speak it?! No one is going to hire someone who can only ask where the bathroom is and tell you how old I am! I debated taking French in university but I couldn’t bother with a lab after school.

Do I regret it? Absolutely not. Do I wish I could speak it? Sure. French is a beautiful language, but here’s the thing…. Canadian students are taught Parisian French and not French Canadienne that is spoken in Quebec. Parisian French has always been easy for me to understand (as long as you can talk slow enough for me to get it) because there are many members of my family who speak that version fluently.

So why do I want to brush up on my French?

Well as you all know, I work in a school division. We have many bilingual and French Immersion schools where I would like to sub/work in. I’ve worked at one already quite a few times and when someone asks me what a word is in French, I tend to forget. Remember, I haven’t spoken or written anything in French since the 10th grade. How sad is it that I couldn’t remember the French word for Friday (FYI, it’s Vendredi). Pathetic. I could feel my great-grandparents standing behind me and scolding me.

Sarah of Sillygrrl recently had a blog post where she talked about learning Spanish. Now here’s the thing, I can understand Spanish better than I can French. Why? I lived next to a Spanish/Italian family since I was three and if you learn any foreign language after the age of 7, you are less likely to speak or comprehend better. It has to do with the way your brain works. Can I speak it? Not really, just some easy words… but I know what you’re talking about! It takes me a while, but I understand. So… don’t speak down of me in Spanish/Italian because I will know what you’re talking about!

This got me to thinking. If I know a lot of words and there’s something out there (besides an audiobook) that can help me brush up on my French words, then I could quite possibly, start to carry on a conversation in French… or at least be able talk to the school kids in French or help someone out with the words.

The great app that we download for our iPhone/iPod is by MindSnacks. I’ve got the free version, but I am going to upgrade to the paid version soon as I will be able to unlock more levels. The app allows you to learn basic words such as colors, days of the week, months, body parts, etc. and play games for practice by spelling out or recognizing the french translation or poorly/incorrectly spelled French words. The rhino drop game is hilarious. I blew up a few rhinos at first. Lately I’ve been losing sleep because I’ve been up in bed using this app. It’s really addicting. It really does start you off easy and then starts adding in the harder words once it feels that you are ready. Yes, it really does judge if you’re ready to move on to something more difficult.

Once I pay for the app and get the basics down, I plan on taking out books on conjugation… Wait, there just might be an app for that!


*Mind Snacks did not pay me to review/discuss this app. I decided to write it on my own accord once I found and used the app.


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