Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures
Ann Williams is a Professor of French at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she teaches courses in language, literature, and culture. She earned her Ph.D. from Northwestern University and earned a Diplôme d’études approfondies from the Université Lyon 2. In May 2016, the French Ministère de l’Éducation nationale named her Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes académiques, an order of distinguished academics. She received the 2013 U.S. Professor of the Year Award for baccalaureate colleges from the Council for Advancement of Support and Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Professor Williams has coauthored four college-level French textbooks. She regularly presents conference papers and writes on contemporary France and the teaching of French. Professor Williams has been involved professionally with the Educational Testing Service, including work as a test developer. Throughout her career, she has received several awards from her university and from foreign-language professional organizations. Since 1990, Professor Williams has been an actor with L’Alliance & Co., a French-language theater company in Denver. Professor Williams is an energetic supporter of foreign-language learning and international studies, often using her own trajectory to show students how they can benefit from the experience provided through contact with languages and cultures that are different from their own. In her teaching and research, she focuses on life skills gained through language study: intercultural communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and flexibility.
01: Welcome to the French-Speaking World
Bonjour! Begin your voyage with a global look at the French language and French-speaking countries around the world. Learning a new language is an active process, and language is deeply connected to the cultures where it is spoken. In this first lecture, you will survey a few patterns and rules to jump-start your understanding of French.
02: Ici, on parle français: French Is Spoken Here
One important facet of the French-speaking world is that manners and politeness still matter. Discover a few essential phrases that will ensure you don't commit any faux pas before you've even had a chance to open your mouth. Then survey the basics of numbers, definite and indefinite articles, the alphabet, and geography.
03: French around the World
Continue your exploration of French manners and culture and build on the phrases from the first lecture. Then reflect on several "word families" that will help you build your vocabulary and make connections across the language. Along the way, you'll also pick up a few common verb forms, adjectives, and adverbs.
04: Francophone Towns and Villages
When traveling in French-speaking countries, the verb aller - "to go" - is one of the most useful. Get to know this verb along with important question words such as "How much?" "Why?" and "When?" This lecture also gives you a chance to listen to a great deal of spoken French to help you practice your de-coding skills.CHECK THIS RECORD
05: Weather, Seasons, and Some Geography
Find out how to discuss the weather, as well as what the weather is like in different parts of France. Then shift your attention to times of year-seasons, months, and dates. While you learn about the weather and time, Professor Williams also introduces you to a few new verb forms to help you talk about preferences and things to do.CHECK THIS RECORD
06: La Vie en France: Life in France
Continue your study of time by examining the days of the week, times of day, and typical French routines throughout the day. More verb forms will help you express what you want to do, what you can do, and what you have to do. And of course, you'll also gain plenty of practice speaking and listening.
07: Vacations and Leisure Activities
In addition to teaching you the language, this course also serves as a cultural toolkit. You may know that the French enjoy their leisure time, so here you will discover the language of vacation and leisure, including the major French holidays. You'll also get your first glimpse of the "imperative mood."...
08: À table: Daily Meals
You won't get far in a French-speaking country without being able to talk about food and drink, particularly given that mealtime is often sacred in the French culture. This lecture takes you through breakfast and lunch, showing you how to express hunger and thirst, how to order, and the necessary vocabulary to enjoy your meal.
09: Buying Groceries
Shift your attention from ordering food in restaurants to buying food (and other items) from the store. Find out how to count and calculate totals, and review the language and cultural considerations of making a purchase. Then tackle a few more regular and irregular verb forms to help you build your communications skills.
10: Where to Eat
Going to a market or restaurant is a culinary adventure. Here, you will put together several things you've learned from previous lectures and take a virtual trip to a restaurant. Professor Williams walks you through a typical dialogue with a waiter. You'll also begin to examine different verb "moods"-the conditional, the indicative, and the imperative.CHECK THIS RECORD
11: The Life of the Traveler
This first of several lectures on traveling through a French country arms you with the language around the daily routines of a tourist. Step into a Parisian hotel and have a conversation with a clerk to make sure you have somewhere to stay for the night. Continue your study of grammar with a look at pronominal and reciprocal verbs.
12: Public Transportation
This second lecture takes you on a journey around France to immerse you in the language of transportation to help you get from point A to point B. Professor Williams gives you a few common verbs and expressions to help you talk about where you came from, where you're going, and how to get there.
13: Travel and Technology
While values evolve very slowly, cultures often change quickly due to new devices. Round out the unit on life as a tourist with an examination of modern technology. Reflect on the French value of privacy and investigate the way smart phones and the internet have changed the nature of privacy-and the way we travel.CHECK THIS RECORD
14: Souvenirs de voyage
In this lecture, you'll gain a few helpful tools for learning about other cultures and the objects you'll encounter. Discover the vocabulary to talk about clothing and houses, and then review the grammar you've learned thus far. In French, the verbs will always be with us, so take a few moments to survey some new verb forms as well as the subjunctive mood.
15: Les Vêtements: How and Why to Dress
Revisit some of the verbs you've already encountered to help you dress with style, particularly faire (to do or make), savoir (to know), and voir (to see). Build on what you've learned about the subjunctive mood to help you make your sartorial decisions. What you learn here will help you to dress your best for your travels.
16: The Home and Private Spaces
Your final cultural stop around France is the home. Tour the house to uncover the vocabulary of different rooms and their functions, as well as some regional differences in architecture. Then delve into a few "tricky translations" where you must choose the right word for the right situation.
17: Je fais des progrès en français!
Visit the town of Lyon with Professor Williams to review what you've learned from the past few lectures and see how well prepared you are to navigate an unfamiliar city. Continue studying how get around and ask for directions. Learn a few additional nuances to the vocabulary you've acquired.
18: La Musique, le théâtre et la danse
You can't understand a culture without understanding its arts. Here, Professor Williams transitions to a multi-lecture unit on the arts, beginning with the world of performing arts. The great news is that much of the vocabulary of music, theater, and dance involves English cognates. This lecture also introduces the past tense.
19: La Littérature et le cinéma
Shift your attention from the stage to the realm of literature and cinema. Learn key words to help you navigate the bookstore and talk about novels, biographies, histories, poems, and more. Continue your study of verb tenses, which are the building blocks for telling a story.
20: L’Art et les artistes
Delve into the visual arts: sculpture, painting, and photography. As you build your vocabulary, you will also add new tools to your storytelling repertoire. With a particular focus on the verb "to be"-être-Professor Williams introduces the imperfect tense, which will better help you describe what is going on in a given situation.CHECK THIS RECORD
21: Le Patrimoine: Museums
In addition to the arts, cultural heritage is important in French-speaking cultures. Your first stop is the museum, and your survey helps you put together much of what you learned in the previous unit. Review the major verb tenses-present, past, composé, and imperfect-and learn how to distinguish the different types of past tense.CHECK THIS RECORD
22: Le Patrimoine: Customs
Consider the relationship between customs and heritage, and uncover the language for French myths and traditions. Then hone the necessary skills to help you follow a story in French. Find out how to make your descriptions livelier with adjectives and adverbs, including words of "degree"-très, trop, peu, and the like.CHECK THIS RECORD
23: Le Patrimoine: Places to Visit
Travel through history and around French-speaking countries to explore several cultural heritage sites. You'll unpack how heritage refers both to the legacy of the past that we benefit from today, as well as what we will pass onto the future. On your tour, you will learn a series of new comparative adjectives.
24: Le Tourisme et les régions
Because of the connection between language and culture, there are many commonalities among French-speaking countries. But regional differences also abound. From food to everyday activities, explore what makes different countries and regions in France unique. From the Alps to Bordeaux, witness the diverse and exciting variety of the French-speaking world.
25: Les Fêtes et les festivals
One of the joys of travel is seeing the cultural connections and distinctions from one place to the next. In this lecture, use the language of celebrations to gain insight into the culture. Festivities include parties, commemorations, and...rodeos! You'll also revisit the conditional "would" tense as well as a few verbs with irregular stems.CHECK THIS RECORD
26: Underlying Cultural Values
While culture often changes, values tend to remain constant, with roots in major historical events such as the French Revolution. Reflect on important values in French-speaking countries, particularly hospitality. Your foray takes you through the language of government, politics, fraternity, and liberty.
27: Aventures: Conversation
The difference between mere tourist travel and adventure is that adventure is about immersion, which requires you to engage on a deeper level. This unit gives you that deep engagement, beginning here with the art of conversation. Discover the rhythms of French conversation and some of the cultural rules to set you up for success.
28: Aventures: Telling a Story
Continue your adventure by rounding out your skills to tell and follow a story. A new verb tense-the pluperfect-will help you tell personal stories, show the link between past and present events, and forge a connection with another person. Practice listening, reading and telling stories.CHECK THIS RECORD
29: Aventures: Reading Cultures
You've already encountered the subjunctive tense Now take it to the next level to help you "read" a culture. Refine your ability to observe and analyze the world around you thanks to cultural artifacts. How do people dress? What do they eat? How do they greet each other? This crucial skillset will help you navigate almost any new place.
30: Your Future with French
You've come a long way in these 30 in-depth lectures. Learning a new language is a lifelong adventure, but before she leaves you, Professor Williams has one more lesson in verbs to impart. Walk through the ins and outs of the future tense and look to tomorrow. Then wrap up what you've learned so you can continue your adventures in learning French.