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Mike Anderson | USLHC | USA

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Learning French

From a grad student in particle physics, these are my recommendations for learning a bit of French.

Before You Know It

Screen shot 2009-11-17 at 11.22.21 AM

I’ve tried out several language programs, including really expensive ones like Rosetta Stone.  Out of them all, this flash-card program has been my favorite. With each card there is a picture and sound recording of someone pronouncing the word or phrase. It quizzes you on cards and repeats ones you get wrong.

The free version lets you download sets made by other people from the main site, and also comes with a handful of card sets.  The paid version gives you a few thousand cards and lets you make & record your own flash cards and upload them to the site for others. It cost me about $50.

(I should find a native speaker and create a useful set of cards for physicists who come to CERN…)


Les Nombrils


As a comic book about girls in high school, I do feel a little weird buying these, but they’re so funny and filled with a lot of French I never learned in textbooks or class.

This has been my favorite source to learn modern slang or just informal phrases and such.  Words I’ve learned include: mec for “guy”, biche for “girl,” hyper-top for “cool” (I think?), and caleçon for “boxers (shorts).”  A mini-jupe is a mini-skirt.

So if you’d like to learn informal French related to relationships, clothing, teenage life, or the like, check out these comic books.

Alright, I’ll admit it: I own the whole series.


Coffee Break French

Screen shot 2009-11-17 at 12.17.26 PMI download these podcasts and listen to these when I’m driving. They’re slow and clear and leave space for you to try pronouncing words and phrases yourself.  With this you can learn about simple things as well as more complicated topics like tense and grammar.

These are definitely more useful when you are alone and can talk out loud without looking weird.



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