Francophone Los Angeles

A whole slew of my friends have formed a sort of loose travel club over the past few years. I went with them to New Orleans in January last year, my second visit there and my last trip to the city before Katrina. This year, the trip includes Paris, the “Mother of New Orleans”. Therefore, I decided to brush up on my long-forgotten French before going.

And that’s how I found out that there is a lot of events en francais in this city! Who knew there was such a base of Francophones in L.A.? Apparently, enough for us to get our own French Tuesdays (and by the way, if anyone is a member, can you take me with you?)

So here’s some of the francophone resources that I’m trying
I study at the Alliance Francaise de Los Angeles once a week, on Saturdays, for two hours of conversational French. My tuition includes membership, so I can attend the Alliance events, which include soirees and cinema. There’s actually a poetry reading tomorrow and a movie this Friday. And another movie next Thursday at the Cow’s End, in Venice, right by my home.

I also discovered listings for the Consulat General de France linked off the Alliance site. They list French readings, lectures, and the entire schedule of the upcoming C.O.L.C.O.A. film festival – City of Lights, City of Angels. There’s an interesting lecture as well by Bernard-Henri L√©vy on a Saturday next month, on his French view of America.

Finally, there is a SoCal Francophone Meetup.com group, which has a few upcoming events I will join them for, if only to practice after class. They have museum trips and wine tastings. It will certainly help to get the practice in, interacting with other people.

Now. Can someone help me reprogram my brain to remember my verb conjugations? Because I can understand everything said to me – I just can’t form the sentences fast enough to speak back. This isn’t going to do at all for when I need to talk to people in Paris about where the best places to go dancing are.

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6 Replies to “Francophone Los Angeles”

  1. Brit here :-)

    Have you any DVDs with French language on as a dubbing option? Because I know exactly what you mean about having the building blocks in your head but not being able to put them together quickly enough in conversation.

    Best thing I found (with Italian but the same works for any language), is immersion. I lived in Italy for a year as part of my Uni studies, and when I got there I was slower at speaking. Then I got a bit quicker because I was surrounded by Italian speakers. When I moved into a flat with only Italians, my level went right up – I could babble away. Maybe not technically correct half the time, but the speed and thought was up there.

    I’ve gotten rusty since I finished Uni, but I need to get my language back up to scratch before going back to Uni for postgrad study. So I’m listening to DVDs of programmes I know well (in English) with the Italian language on. Hearing them babble away, gets your ears and brain acclimatised to the pace of language and the sounds. Before you know it, you’ll realise how much you’ve taken in without even thinking, and you’ll pick up phrases you can use, which will just trot off your tongue without even thinking (showing your increased skill).

    Good luck, and go you for being all gung ho and pro-active about learning French for your trip!

  2. That’s a brilliant idea! I think my Simpsons DVDs are in French – at least the ones I bought in Canada. I’ll go take a look at those. Thank you!

  3. heh… funny. I think that I am the opposite of most native-english-speaking francophones. I can speak just fine, maybe not with perfect grammar but I am definitely understandable, but I have the most trouble with understanding what people are saying to me. Particularly in a loud/crowded environment. I guess I just need more practice!

  4. Jillian – I remember The Simpsons being a litmus test for me. The first time I saw them in Italy was after I’d been living there about 4 months (I’d not had access toa TV much before then). I remember watching and thinking “Good Gods, just how fast do they speak?!?”

    6 months later, just before I left Italy, I’d been watching some more episodes and realised that they seemed to speak at a completely normal pace for me. I knew they couldn’t have slowed down the dialogue, so it must have been my ability to understand which had improved!

    The good thing about TV/films in another language is that they’ll have a load of every day language. “Have you seen X?” “Where’s Y gone?” “Yeah sure, go ahead”. And of course, swear words [grin]

    If you know the dialogue already in English, it helps – because instead of listening and trying to translate something unfamiliar at the same time (meaning you only take in half of the information), watching something you already know means that you can recognise lines quicker… even a few words will trigger the English translation in your head! I do this with Scrubs in Italian – I know the English dialogue almost off by heart and so now I can easily spot the funny Dr Cox jokes! I’ve got some seasons of Alias, Buffy and Sec and the City in Italian too, as I bought those box sets in Italy. The challenge then is recognising which episode is which, as they translate the titles too – and not always literally! Luckily, Scrubs is one of those shows where even the English DVDs have Italian option on.

    Plus, with DVDs you can rewind, unlike a conversation with a person!

  5. Well, the best part of all is that I quote the Simpsons ALL THE TIME in English. Without Simpsons references, my conversation is limited. Now I can do that in French!

    I know what you mean about pace and comprehension – I have issues with that, still, in conversational French. But you’ve given me a lot of hope that I will pick up the language soon!

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