Tuesday, 26 February 2013

What do I write to my French pen pal?

What a great way to practice your writing in French by writing to a French language pen pal!

But even when you are learning French, it is still hard to get started on your letter/email because you want to make a good first impression and you want your new pen pal to be interested in writing back to you in the French language.  You should know that everybody has trouble getting started when writing a letter or email.

If you are writing in French to someone who is close to your age, they will probably be interested in some of the same things that you are.  Try to think about what you would want to know about your French language pen pal.

If you ask your French language pen pal some questions in your letter, it will be easier for them to get started when they write back to you.

Here are some ideas to get you started writing in French:
§  Let your pen pal know who you are and why you are writing to them.  Tell them your first name or and your nickname if you have one and that you are learning French.

§  Explain where you found their name and email or street address, so they understand that you are serious about finding a pen pal.

§  Next, tell them your age, and if you are a boy or girl and what country you live in.

§  Write a little information about your neighborhood – for instance do you live in a busy city or in the country or somewhere in between.

§  Talk a little bit about your family – do you have brothers and sisters? – list their names and how old they are.

§  Share with them any hobbies you have or talk about what you like to do in your spare time – maybe you enjoy video games or reading.  Give your French language pen pal some details, like what are your favorite games or books.

§  Ask them if they have a pet – if you have a pet, tell them about it.

§  If there is a sport that you like you can talk a little about that and ask them if they play sports.

§  Things in your everyday life will be interesting to your pen pal.  You can talk about your favorite color, your favorite music or what you like best or least at school.

§  Trips or vacations are another topic you can add to your writing in French.  Have you been on a trip or do you plan to go on vacation?

To end your letter it is best to use something friendly in French language of course, but not too friendly – remember you are just getting to know each other.  Something like “your new friend” or “Cheers” is better than “Love”.
MOST IMPORTANT especially if you are emailing is to keep safety in mind.  Likely your parents and teachers have talked about safety online.  It is a good idea to let your parents know that you are writing in French to a new pen pal and let them look over your letter.



Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Expand Your French Giveaway !!

Win this set of French Flashcards featuring numbers
from 1 to 100
with the pronunciation on a cd
 Flashcards are a wonderful tool to help you to learn new words. They are versatile and easy to use.
They are also very much a part of the classroom material. 
These flashcards are laminated and have rounded corners for safety.
They come with accompanying voice recording on a cd for the pronunciation, for anyone who wishes to learn the French numbers on their own.

The winner is Catherine Dimelow

Friday, 8 February 2013

How Accurate Are Online Translators?

The world of the internet has brought us many great inventions and conveniences, but online translators for foreign languages are not reliable or accurate enough to rely on for important translation of languages.

When you only need to understand the general meaning of a written letter or email, they can be sufficient, but if you need an accurate detailed comprehension you could be in trouble.

The main reason that an online translator tool cannot provide precise information is verb tenses.  For instance, when translating French language correspondence, the conjugation of verbs will not always be correct and may result in a completely different meaning for the reader.

Also the online tools have problems with sentence structure.  The translator will take the information in foreign languages “word by word” and try to make sense of it.  The result can be something completely different from the original languages.

Slang words and local use of certain expressions will also cause headaches when using an online translator for foreign languages.  They will take the literal meaning or a phrase which may be very confusing for the person receiving it.

If you are using an online translator for translating French language to English and you do not know the French language, you may not even realize that the message you are sending to a native French-speaking person does not make any sense at all.  In fact the results of some translations are just bizarre.  You may think you are ordering a box of pencils but you are actually buying a horse!  You are going to be very confused when you receive that delivery!

This example shows why accuracy is so important and you should not rely on an online translator when specific details are important. This situation will get even worse if you and another person are corresponding and you are both using online translators.  Before long the meanings will be lost for both of you.  Imagine how important accuracy is if you are making detailed travel reservations and the person receiving your request doesn’t understand clearly.  It could mean disaster for your plans.

While there is no substitute for learning foreign languages, an online translator is fine if you just need a broad understanding of what you are reading but use caution if you rely on them for precise and exact information.