In Support of Total Immersion

A French American Life

I grew up during the old-school era of second-language learning. We filled in the blanks, conjugated verbs, and memorized vocabulary lists. Entry level classes, and sometimes even intermediate and advanced classes, were taught in English. Speaking in the second language was a part of those classes, but not a huge part, and when we did speak, it was awkwardly and amidst classmates making fun of each other’s accents.

Today, language learning is (thankfully) progressing toward total immersion. In my college classes, and in the high school and junior high classes that I’ve observed, instructors use the target language to teach. Students are expected to participate by speaking, and by writing and reading in the foreign language. Oh, how far we’ve come! It seems so obvious that to learn a language, the best method is to be immersed in that language. After all, that’s how we learn our first language, right? Hearing it…

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American Sauce

I remember the first time I came across “American Sauce,” too. It reminded me of a less chunky Thousand Island dressing. In any case, as soon as I read this, I ran to check the ingredients in our jar to make sure this vegetarian hadn’t been slathering lobster stock on his sandwiches. Whew! Our supermarket brand doesn’t use it. Check out the story behind the name in this article by a fellow expat blogger: Cheese FC. Bon appétit !

Cheese FC

My wife was surprised the other day to see a sauce called American sauce. Now what would that be?

It’s a sauce used for lobsters or seafood, made with tomatoes, shallots, lobster stock, white wine and herbs.

But why is it called American?

It was invented in the 19th century by a French chef, Pierre Fraise, who had spent a long time in America. One day some customers came for a late dinner. As he didn’t have a lot left in the kitchen he drew up a quick recipe with some lobsters and a sauce. He called it Le Homard à L’Américaine (American Lobster), probably in memory of his time spent in America, but maybe also to explain to his customers why they’d never heard of such a sauce.

But it seems some chefs might have been a tad unhappy to cook lobster the American way, seeing that for most…

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“Signs of Becoming French” (from FUSAC)

Hitchhiking … showing approval … or showing the number “one”?

I don’t reblog very often, but sometimes you come across something that’s just too good not to share. While it’s not really a “blog,” FUSAC is an English-language magazine published in France that caters to those living the expat dream. In the July 5 edition, there was a great little article by Shari Leslie Segall identifying the top 20 signs that you’re becoming French. Of course, I had to read it and do my own personal assessment. I’m happy to report that I’m well on way, with a score of 14 out of 20.

Here’s where it seems my evolutionary process is stalled, though (you need to read the FUSAC article to follow this): Continue reading “Signs of Becoming French” (from FUSAC)

A Day to Remember

The article I published last year to commemorate D-Day:

“Today, let us take a moment to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by so many on the beaches and in the hedgerows of Normandy that rainy June [69] years ago, so that the liberation of France might finally begin.”

je parle américain

The United States and France have a long relationship, and like all relationships, ours has had its ups and downs. Born during our Revolution, Franco-American friendship is, of course, the complex product of our two countries’ unique histories and the moments when our paths have crossed — moments when we have shared the same struggle and the same vision of the way the world should be.

Perhaps no moment in our shared history demonstrates the strength of our friendship and common cause more so than D-Day, June 6, 1944 — when 73,000 Americans, 61,715 British, and 21,400 Canadians landed on the coast of Normandy to begin the liberation of France from Nazi occupation. That invasion, codenamed “Operation Neptune,” was the largest amphibious assault in history, and formed the spearhead of “Operation Overlord,” the military operation to liberate northern France. The D-Day invasion has been memorialized in our history…

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Remem-ber, Remem-ber the 8th of May

Today is one of four French national holidays during the month of May, including May Day (May 1), Ascension (May 9 this year), and Pentecost Monday (May 20 this year). May is, it seems, the most “holidayed” month of the year for the French. Given that it’s usually the most beautiful month of the year in Paris, that’s just fine with me!

If you’ve ever wondered why May 8 is a holiday here, read on

(Originally published May 8, 2012)

je parle américain

May is a month chock full of holidays here in France. Just last week, we celebrated May Day. Since it fell on a Tuesday, lots of French took Monday off as well so they could have a four-day weekend—that’s what the French call faire le pont (“to make the bridge”). This year, May is also the month that brings us such Christian holidays as Ascension on May 17 and Pentecost on May 27. While the latter is no longer a public holiday in France, the former is … but let’s not get into a discussion about laïcité, okay? Instead, I’m writing about today’s holiday:

le 8 mai

A blogger friend of mine noted in a post today that it was “Victory Day” … but no one could tell her exactly which victory it commemorated. Being the history nerd that I am, I passed along the needed information. (It…

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Previous Post

To tide you over until the next post from je parle américain, allow me to share this humorous article from my blogger friend over at Le mot du (bon)jour. (To read the whole article, click on the link “Reblogged from Le mot du (bon)jour” above.) I recently wrote about how much French is actually in the English we speak, and her post highlights the confusion that can arise from mixing French and English without considering how a French person will interpret it. Now, as a die-hard Clemson Tiger, I have to take issue with the first sentence of her post because, well, if I were at Williams-Brice, it would be to cheer for the other team! Nevertheless, today’s “mot rigolo” (“funny word”) is guaranteed to make you chuckle!

Enjoy!
And come back Sunday for the next post from je parle américain!

Le mot du (bon)jour

If you ever go to a USC (that is University of South Carolina) football game, you will find yourself screaming “Go cocks!”… Very strange at first! We brought my French sister and brother-in-law to a game a couple of years ago, and we could not stop laughing because the other side of the stadium was prompted to scream “Game”, and our side had to scream “Cocks”… this lasted a whole game. So we translated with the alternative meaning of cock=rooster (so right, the other meaning…), and in French, that is: “Allez les bites!” (We wanted to text it to the big board but it did not work… I wish! I would have taken a picture!).

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