Language as a Portal To Another Culture

Bonjour, ceci est votre phrase française du jour.
Good morning, this is your French sentence of the day. 

 

Reading these words is how my mornings have started since the COVID-19 lockdown. 

I’ve always wanted to learn French and when I told my boyfriend (who is from Paris), he happily came up with the idea of sending me French sentences everyday — and, after I insisted, audio recordings too. 

This is my favorite way to learn, but I admit I am a bit biased. For those who don’t have a French petit ami to help them, here are other resources that I’ve found to be helpful. Many of them have equivalent programs in other languages as well.

Pamela Rose Haze’s “French Made Simple” is my main study workbook. Each chapter starts out with a dialogue in French, and then asks questions based on the dialogue and teaches grammar points. It also has pictures, guidelines on pronunciation, and a dictionary in the back. I bought it on Amazon for $14 but a Kindle version is available for $7. 

Rosetta Stone is the first runner-up. It’s convenient to use whenever you choose to, and it works on your oral and listening skills. It teaches mainly through realistic photos, and the accents in the app are very good. 

Rosetta Stone also offers interactive learning and live, group tutoring sessions focusing on particular subject areas. I’ve only tried a few live sessions and haven’t been disappointed yet. It’s a bit more costly, but I’ve found it to be worth the money. The different subscription options are as follows: three months for $36, 12 months for $180, 24 months for $250 or a lifetime package for $300. 

I sometimes use iTalki, a website that allows you to connect to a native speaker via video chat for a very small fee (I paid $16 for an hour). On the website at www.italki.com you’re able to choose your teacher by watching a recorded video of the instructor, which allows you to listen to their accent and check out their lesson plan. This platform is especially great during COVID-19 because you get to have a safe, one-on-one social interaction even if you’re chatting with someone who is halfway around the globe. 

Speaking of social interactions, my neighbors in Salisbury, Conn., (who have much more experience in French than I) organized some weekly socially distanced French soirées. 

One out of the five of us picked a topic each week for discussion. The subjects could range from an article in Le Monde (the French equivalent to the New York Times) to a music video. We would translate it and then talk about it in French. 

From time to time I also like to watch French television shows or listen to French audiobooks —I mean, who doesn’t like to “Netflix and Chill”? When you’re doing that in a new language, it  suddenly feels productive! I’ve been watching “Call My Agent” and “A Very Secret Service” on Netflix with English subtitles. 

The next learning tool I would like to try is looking up a recipe in French and actually cooking it. Learning new words while doing an activity is the best way to learn. And, hey, if I don’t remember the words at least I’ll be able to (hopefully) eat whatever dish I make. 

 

Lena Szeto, 24, from New York City but currently residing in her Salisbury home, is a Bates College graduate. She is excited to be writing for The Lakeville Journal again after interning for two summers at the paper while in high school.

The roots of the author’s interest in France and the French language began at a young age, while riding a carousel in Paris. Photo by Paul Szeto

Carousels are just a memory in Paris for now — but photos of them can evoke powerful memories. Photo by Michelle Alfandari ​

The roots of the author’s interest in France and the French language began at a young age, while riding a carousel in Paris. Photo by Paul Szeto

Latest News

Joy at The Playhouse

The Sharon Playhouse honors Bobbie Olsen at its annual Spotlight Gala.

Justin Boccitto

The Annual Sharon Playhouse Spotlight Gala cast their theater light upon a worthy honoree this year: Bobbie Olsen, Bobbie Olsen, former president of The Playhouse board and namesake of a well-known location, The Bobbie Olsen Theatre, where residents pack the seats each summer to see the mainstage production plays and musicals. Held on Saturday, June 1, the dinner, cocktail, and musical review at the Olsen Theatre was a celebration of all she has contributed to keeping live theater active and alive in Sharon, even in the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Bobbie Olsen is an incredible supporter of not just this theater, but this community,” said Sharon Playhouse Artistic Director Carl Andress. “She supports the Sharon Playhouse in her leadership, and in the beauty of her person-hood. We’re just so grateful that she’s been in our lives and that she continues to be such a good friend to the theater, Sharon Playhouse, and the theater in general.”

Keep ReadingShow less
NWCT Arts Council: Arts Connected

Matica Circus duo from Harwinton, Connecticut performing at NWCT ARTS Connected event in May

Jennifer Almquist

The Northwest Connecticut Arts Council (NWCT Arts) recently held Arts Connected, their first fundraiser, at the Spring Hill Vineyard in Washington, Connecticut. The evening celebration, a combination of Fellini movie, carnival, and Renaissance Fair, featured an aerialist from Matica Circus in Harwinton, and a flame and flow performer out in the courtyard under the stars. Momix, based in Washington Connecticut, under the artistic direction of founders Moses Pendleton and Cynthia Quinn, also performed. Two dancers wore Jeff Koons-style inflated red dog suits, and Momix dancer Jared Bogart wafted through the space wearing an immense, two-stories tall silk fan. Persian calligraphic painter Alibaba Awrang created a community work of art, while Ameen Mokdad, a violinist from Iraq, made music with Hartford’s Cuatro Puntos Ensemble. A young musician, Adelaide Punkin, performed an original song from the balcony of the vast space, while a giant puppet from Sova Dance and Puppet waltzed through the festivities. DJ Arvolyn Hill from Kent spun the tunes, an African drum circle set the rhythm, and there was abundant food and drink for the gathered crowd.

Keep ReadingShow less
Research and development

The catch of the day for the Tangled column of the week.

Patrick L. Sullivan

Fishing trips are rarely straightforward propositions. Over 52 years of flicking the baited hook, I have learned not to make plans with rigid schedules, because something always goes awry.

Last week I traveled deep into the wilds of Greene County, N.Y., for some research and development with my fishing guru Gary.

Keep ReadingShow less
The 18th Annual Berkshire International Film Festival

Actor Freddie Gibbs in “Down With The King,” which was filmed in Berkshire County and screened at BIFF.

Film still by Visit Films

The 18th Annual Berkshire International Film Festival began on Thursday, May 30, and ended on Sunday, June 2. (BIFF) features films, events, and special guests annually in Great Barrington and Lenox, Massachusetts. The festival gathers industry professionals and fans for a four-day celebration.

This year’s lineup featured documentaries, narrative features, short films, and an animated shorts selection for kids with stories from all over the world and Berkshire-based stories. To handle increased growth, the festival expanded to the Lenox Town Hall.

Keep ReadingShow less