Tag Archives: French Immersion

Québec Part V: Saying Goodbye (5 Things I’ll Miss about the French Province)

I’m a pretty sentimental person, so as I think about the 5 weeks I’ve spend here in Quebec it’s easy to think of lots of things that I will miss. Since I’ve promised to try to write all my posts about Quebec in French, however, I’ve narrowed it down to one for each week.

The Food

Everyone knows that the French know what is up it comes to food. This past Sunday, for our last weekend together, several of us biked to a waterfall close-by for a little picnic. We stopped by an outdoor market on the way to pick up some bread. We bought a loaf of sun-dried tomato and chocolate cranberry bread. Afterwards we went to the fromagerie and bought several types of cheese. A couple of us also picked up a bottle of wine from the corner store (yes, there is wine available everywhere here). Then we sat in front of a waterfall feasting on bread and cheese and the grapes we packed along.

cheeseandbread

Then, of course, there were the restaurant-style meals we are fed each and everyday by our hosts.

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Quebec Pt. III: 4 Things You Inadvertently Learn in French Immersion

1) There are muscles in your mouth you’ve never used before

I’ve never thought much about language, at least not beyond trying to figure out what to say next. Even then I don’t really think things through. If you never had much of an interest in linguistics (like myself) it can come as a surprise when you start to learn about the basics of how spoken language works.

Here at Trois Pistole one of the French Teachers is a linguist and, incidentally, an anglophone. This gives him a lot of insight. As an English Speaker he has first-hand experience with the kind of mistakes we are likely to make while learning French. Then, as a linguist, he has a good idea of why exactly we make those mistakes. Luckily for us, he also hosts a phonetics clinic once a week to teach us the little details of pronunciation. Last week he focused on how French vowels work. The image I’ve included below is meant to represent where French vowel sounds come from in our mouths.

The French “i”, which sounds like an English “e”, is formed at the front of the mouth when the jaw closed (antérieure, fermée). In contract, the French “ɑ” comes from the back of the mouth and requires a wide open jaw (postérieure, ouverte).

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BC Girl in a Québécois World Pt. II: What to Expect in Quebec

As you may remember from last week, I’m currently attending a full immersion language school in Quebec. A little over a week ago I gathered in a sweltering auditorium with approximately 250 other students while a professor spoke to us in English, for the last time.

“The people of this village have a name for you anglophones;” he explained, “they call you the ones with the blank stares.”

I’ve been here for about two weeks now, and more often than not that’s how it goes. I limp out something French. The Francophone responds so fast that to my untrained ears a sentence sounds instead like one very long word. It feels a little bit like being two years old again, only with memories of a time when you were actually a competent human being.

Just imagine that first image is someone trying to explain something in French.

Growing up in British Columbia I heard complaints against French language laws, which work to protect French culture. English speakers argued that it was an unfair double standard, and that the French were just being snobby. That has not been my experience here in Quebec.  Continue reading