Meet Up and Speak French With Natives: Franglish!

How can I meet up and speak with native French speakers in my area?

Franglish, a French-English Language Exchange
Many people complain that they can read or write French, but have a hard time speaking it. If you're one of those types of people who struggle with holding a conversation then Franglish is for you, because practice makes perfect.

Franglish is an organized event where native English, French, and Spanish speakers meet at a local venue for the sole purpose of exchanging languages (English & French). All levels are welcome, and you won't be judged. When you arrive at a Franglish event you have half an hour to mingle and meet people before the 2-hour event officially begins. Since the events are at bars and pubs a drink is included in the ticket price.

Each English participant goes to a table with a French partner of their choice.
– 7 minutes of the conversation in French. Only French.
– 7 minutes of the conversation in English. Only English.
– You then have 1 minute to switch tables and meet a new partner!
About every 15 minutes you'll receive a new person to speak with, this goes on for two hours.

Franglish has language exchange events all around France (Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Nice, Lille, etc) the United Kingdom (London, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester), and soon the United States (New York City, November 2014). There are also Spanish/French exchanges in Paris.

Curious? Check out the following video below and turn on English subtitles if needed.

Book Review: Upgrade Your French by Ben Houy

Upgrade Your French: The Ultimate Guide to Learning French on Your Ownhas hit the shelves on the Amazon Marketplace!

Benjamin Houy, the author, is a Frenchman who currently lives in Berlin. He learned English, Korean, and German and wrote this book to help learners tackle the hardships of learning French. Benjamin is a friend of mine, and he runs the website where you can learn about French Culture, expressions, and a myriad of other things.

Okay, so enough about Ben, what about his book?

The reason I liked "Upgrade Your French" is because it starts of by introducing common misconceptions which hold people back from learning any language. He then goes about outlining the methodology he used to attain foreign language fluency. During the second part of his book, Ben lists ways to improve the four core skills: reading, listening, writing & speaking.

For the price of a small breakfast, Ben's book will help anybody stay motivated and stay the course for learning French. At just under 20,000 words, it's not the longest read in the world, but for anyone who's floundering with their French, it may be helpful. The book is intended for beginners or intermediate learners.

Until Friday, October 24th, Ben's book is FREE on the Amazon Marketplace. After that it sells for $4.99 (USD).

You can like frenchtogether here on Facebook.
You can purchase Upgrade Your French: The Ultimate Guide to Learning French on Your Own on Amazon today.

Let Ben and I know what you guys think of his book on his Amazon page or here in the comments below (no subscription required to comment).

Papaoutai English Translation - Stromae

Papaoutai in English
Reviewed/Translated by Stromae & John Elkhoury
Comprehension Difficulty: EASY

Dites-moi d'où il vient
Tell me where he comes from
Enfin je saurais où je vais
Then I would know where I'm going
Maman dit que lorsqu'on cherche bien
Mommy says when you look hard enough
On finit toujours par trouver
You'll always end up finding it

Elle dit qu'il n'est jamais très loin
She says he's never very far away
Qu'il part très souvent travailler
He often leaves to go work
Maman dit « travailler c'est bien »
Mommy says "working is good"
Bien mieux qu'être mal accompagné, pas vrai ?
Better to be alone than in bad company, right?

Où est ton papa ?
Where is your dad?
Dis-moi où est ton papa
Tell me where is your dad?
Sans même devoir lui parler
Without even having to talk to him
Il sait ce qui ne va pas
He knows it's not going well

Ah sacré papa
Oh my dear father
Dis-moi où es-tu caché ?
Tell me where are you hiding?
Ca doit faire au moins mille fois que j'ai compté mes doigts
I must've counted my fingers at least a thousand times

Où t'es papa où t'es ?
Where are you dad, where are you?
Où t'es papa où t'es ?
Where are you dad, where are you?
Où t'es papa où t'es ?
Where are you dad, where are you?
Où t'es où t'es où papa, où t'es ?
Where are you, where are you, where are you dad, where are you?

Top Things to See and Do in Lyon

Things to do in Lyon, France
What are some top things to see and do in Lyon? Well, Lyon is the second largest metropolitan area in France and it's a must visit destination when you're in the country. I often find that people are so crazy about seeing Paris, yet this is also a topnotch destination. So when you go to La Ville Des Lumières, what should you do when you get there?

Visit La Notre Dame de Fourvière & L'Hotel de Ville
Notre Dame de Fourvière sits atop a large hill in the 5th arrondissement. Outside this beautiful church is a view of the entire Lyonnais city skyline, and during a nice afternoon you'll be able to experience a breathtaking sunset.

Meanwhile city hall sits in the middle of Presqu'île, and is a wonderful site to see at night when the building is lit up in it's entirety. It also serves as good meeting point for friends.

Eat Authentic Lyonnais Food
Lyon is often known as the gastronomical capital of France thanks to many famous chefs in town. The food is excellent and the attention to detail on traditional dishes is immense. If you go to a Bouchon (they can be overbooked), you'll get the best cooking Lyon has to offer, however you may not enjoy the close, familial seating proximities. Have no fear, most regular restaurants feature Lyonnais fare as well as more commonplace cuisine.

If you're eating kebabs in Lyon, then you're doing it wrong.

How to Act Like a Parisian in Paris

French people rarely wear berets...
Nobody is fooled when you walk around Paris with a huge camera slung around your neck while consulting your map every five seconds. We know you're lost, we know you don't belong. I'll be honest, tourists are treated differently in Paris – they're treated worse.

Here's a few steps to act like a Parisian during your stay in the French capital. Eventually French people will dumbfoundingly utter « Oh, t'es pas français ?! » (you're not French ?!).

Speak like a Parisian
Obviously the best way to be Parisian is to speak French, however to supplement your language, beauf, sympa, and putain are three words to add to your French vocabulary.

Beauf in French is the stereotypical, classless chump who watches football (soccer) everyday, drinks lots of beer and is culture-less. It's not a good thing to be a beauf – which is why Parisians love using the term because it heightens the speaker's own social standing. In fact, in Paris, beauf can be anyone you don't know or anything you don't particularity care for.

Sympa is a shortened form of the French word sympathique (which means nice). Parisians love the word because you can appreciate a person or thing without going overboard. Do you like the architecture? It's nice. Do you like the meal I just spent hours making? It's nice. Just nice? Yes, just nice. You see, Parisians cannot love anything, that's so anti-Parisian.

I lied… Parisians love photos by Doisneau or sneaking a peice of caramel au beurre salé, but I digress.

You'll hear putain while walking the streets of Paris as well as between friends. The word putain is a magical interjection that spans from cussing out someone on the street to showing sympathy for a friend and everything in between. Although the word literally means "whore" it often is not connotated as such.

« Putain mais chuis sérieux »

« Il a trompé sa femme… »
« Putain ! »

Besides using those three words, Parisians incorporate A LOT of English into their everyday speech. Only the cool Parisians are so in-tune with the world that they speak English.

Café Culture + Apéro
Apéritif is somewhere between 17h00 and 21h00
Did you ever notice why restaurants don't serve food around 6PM, or why French people are seen eating their dinner at 8, 9, or even 10PM?

Apéritif is the wonderful time of day when you sit down with your friends over Campari and discuss how much you hate Republicans. Nothing is more French, more Parisian, than sitting outside a café on a nice day and snacking away to hold you over until dinner. Nothing.

But how do I go about enjoying France's café culture?

The first step is to find a good café or brasserie. You want an authentic French place which does not try to cater to tourists otherwise you'll be charged more money for poor service and lower quality food (most tourists don't know what to expect in France, so they exploit you). Avoid restaurants which are right next to tourist traps as well as those which display their menus in several different languages. The easiest way to find a decent place is to find a place that already has many people seated.

When you find a café or restaurant simply sit where you want (preferably outside if it's a nice day) and the waiter will eventually ask what you'd like. Order a drink, enjoy the olives and pop open a nice book or converse with someone.

BONUS: When you're sitting outside at your café, have a copy of Le Monde folded up besides you. Although Parisians never have time to read it, it's universally accepted as good journalism. Congratulations, now you're sophisticated.

Dress Like a Parisian
While writing this, five out of eight French people who passed me by were wearing converse.

France is Awesome

I'm in France! I spent two weeks at my uncle's place in Marolles-en-Brie, France (~20km from Paris). I opened a French bank account with BNP Parisbas, bought some apartment essentials (30-inch flat screen, microwave, dishes), got my carte jeune for the train and then headed down to Besançon to visit my cousin.
One of the two rooms in my apartment :)

Once I arrived in my city, Bourg-en-Bresse, I was reminded of how joyous it was to be in a small French city. Bourg-en-Bresse reminds me of a compact Besançon. I found a beautiful apartment au centre-ville, subscribed to a local gym and squared off paying for my electricity, internet, TV, and mobile services. Phew!

Despite accomplishing so much in my new city, my job wasn't complete until I found some cool French people to hang around with. I did not know one single person in Bourg-en-Bresse. That had to change.

It was intimidating at first to go up to groups of people in bars and try to join them however as my Saturday night progressed I became a pro. The one secret to making friends in France: say you're American (more specifically from a well-known city such as New York). It was surprising to see a lot of French people sporting American flag tee shirts, hats, or shoes which practically invited me to open up a conversation. I kid you not; being an American with good French allows you to meet a myriad of interesting people. I followed my new French friends out of the local pub to a nightclub. There, they willingly spent top euro for VIP seating and an onslaught of alcoholic drinks. Vodka, shots, all paired with red bull, I watched helplessly as a French comrade threw up all over the club's counter then proceed to dish out high fives. The dance floor was epic: the smoke machine, the lights, the DJ. I sang along to my favorite club songs (in English) and look like a boss doing so.

We didn't stop partying until 5AM, when the club closed. Putain c'était un soir très agréable.

Yesterday we followed up our night of mischief by heading to an outdoor party. I'll keep you guys posted, for the time being and there's just too many things to do.

Upcoming destinations:
Lyon, France (September 4th/5th, 2014)
Dijon, France (September 6th - see my cousin)
Paris, France (September 8th - September 12th)
Geneva, Switzerland (???)
Barcelona, Spain (???)