Message on the bottle: Mind Game Moments for language learners


Someone gave me a free (swag) water bottle the other day–looking at the picture on the box, I could see that the design was one that seems to be pretty popular these days. With a somewhat subdued design that wasn’t dominated by a corporate logo splashed everywhere (hidden here), it seemed like a keeper. Before throwing out the box, however, I thought it would be a good idea to check if I was going to be able to wash my water bottle in the dishwasher.

That’s when it happened– I picked up the box and….found myself looking at the French version of the description and instructions.  The language learning mind games had begun.


As someone who likes to speak French sometimes (still a rusty B2), I was essentially faced with a question: read the French, or take the easy route and flip over to the English?

Continue reading


French audiobooks at your local library

A while back, I shared a link to a funny Stéphane Guillon video—when I was actively preparing for DELF, I really enjoyed his style of delivery (even if I didn’t understand everything he said).  At the time, watching him read his ‘episodes’ for the radio made me wish it were possible to have a copy of his speaking notes.

Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago—–while searching my local library for audiobooks for my son, I was playing around with the search filters and ended up looking at children’s audiobooks in different languages.   Through that process, I was pleased to discover that they had a copy of a children’s audiobook read by Stéphane Guillon (honestly, I can’t say enough about the fantastic Edmonton Public Library).

The name of the book is L’atroce monsieur Terroce”, by Nicolas de Hirsching.  As a bonus, they have a copy of the printed version of the book as well. This book appears to have been put out as part of the J’aime Lire series.

For me, being able to have both the audio/visual and a copy of the script/text is ideal— if you want to read along, you can do that; if you want to listen once, and then practice reading aloud on your own, you can do that; if you want to try and transcribe a couple of sentences, and then check how well you did against the original, you can do that too.

All that to say—If you live in a decent-sized city, don’t forget about your local library as a resource!  In the spirit of things you don’t have to spend money on, remember that your local library may well have excellent language learning resources— everything from Pimsleur cd sets to lessons by “language teacher to the stars” Michel Thomas, and even audiobook versions of classics like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince.

As for my son, he ended up asking if we could borrow the “Magic School Bus with the CD” again:)

epl l'atroce monsieur terroce stephan guillon

Le départ de Stéphane Guillon: one of my French teachers got fired…

The other day I made a list of French podcasts that I have on my ipod, but it appears that Stéphane Guillon’s two year stint on France Inter has come to a close.  Pity!  In making a statement on the situation, Radio France boss Jean-Luc Hees declared that “L’humour ne doit pas être confisqué par de petits tyrans.” and gave Guillon the boot.

I’ll leave politics to the pundits, but it really has been fun listening to his morning slots.  One favourite that comes to mind was his recap of the Clearstream Affair, comparing the whole scenario to a TV series that you never really want to come to an end “and I never missed an episode”(see video below).

Something about his humour reminded me of old Monty Python sketches that were off-colour enough that you couldn’t share with some of your friends, yet you still couldn’t deny some the comedic genius in the delivery.

With his flair, gift for story-telling and spot-on impersonations of so many different French speaking styles, these skits are a superb language learning resource– my only wish was that I could read his speaking notes!  If someone ever puts together a DVD + Book box-set of Mr. Guillon’s time at France Inter, I will definitely pick up a copy!

video link: