Peuchère or What Not to Say to a Disabled Person
How to say lawn chair in French


How to learn a new language with a used brainHello faithful readers--and a warm bonjour to those who have recently signed up to this free word journal. This blog usually goes out three times a week, but we are on a new schedule since the arrival of my mom. For the past three weeks Mom and I have been digging in the garden, enjoying walks by the seaside... braiding wild rosemary through our hair... and making plans for the future--while reminding each other to "be here now" in the present moment, or l'ici et maintenant. (Photos at the end of this post.)

Mas de la Perdrix - visit this charming rental in the south of FranceProvence Villa Rental Luberon luxury home; 4 bedrooms, 5 baths; gourmet kitchen, covered terrace & pool. Views of Roussillon. Click here. 

Keeping, now, to the theme of this blog--language learning--today's update is to tell you about a wonderful new educational tool brought to you by my friend Lynn, who has written today's column, below. Lynn McBride of the Southern Fried French blog has a new eBook out this week:  How to Learn a New Language with a Used Brain  (at, and available at other Amazon sites). It’s a short eBook for students of any language who want an update on the best techniques for learning, plus reviews of the latest online or traditional resources, and tips from and teachers and other students.  Lynn would like to invite all French-Word-A-Day readers to join the virtual book release party over at Southern Fried French - just after you read her How to Chit-Chat in French tips, below....

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France and Monaco Rentals: short-term holiday rental properties throughout France and Monaco. Photos here.

bavarder, (bah var day)
    :to chat, chatter, blab

Lynn-mcBrideLearning to Chit-Chat in French... by Lynn McBride

Here’s a common dilemma for French learners, maybe it’s happened to you. You brush up on your grammar and vocabulary  and you’re feeling pretty good about your spoken French. Then you encounter a real live French person. Oops! They talk BACK! And expect you to understand them!
Typically the hardest part of language study is to find enough opportunities to bavarder with a native. And to do what all students of French at any level need to do over and over in order to learn: get out there and make mistakes!
We expats know a lot about that. Take, for example, my British friend Pete who meant to ask at the hardware store for 10 meters of chêne (oak), but instead asked for 10 meters of chien (dog). Then there was the time I needed 3 kilos of salmon for a big party (6.6 pounds) and instead asked Monsieur le poissonierfor 3 kilometres of salmon (1.6  MILES). “Madame,” he said, “just what sort of party are you having?”
Learning to actually converse is the main reason most of us study a language. So what’s an armchair Anglo to do? In researching my book, How to Learn a New Language with a Used Brain, I found lots of new options for talking with NATIVE speakers, which is the very best way to learn.
My favorite solution is one you may know about: Join the Alliance Française. They have chapters in cities all over the world, and they offer language lessons, conversation groups, and social events with native speakers. Americans can also go to to, where you can look for a French conversation group in your area, or easily start one. The French department at your local university is a great place to find native speaking tutors or conversation groups.
Remember when you were a kid and had a pen pal? You can now have a French pen pal, in a whole new way.  Same concept, but you use Skype, Facetime, email, live chat, or the phone to bavarder. You will be both teacher and student; the French speakers want to learn English, so you alternate languages. My Language Exchange is an example of a site where you can find partners. View their photos, read their stories, and pick a partner who interests you. I’ve got many more such sites listed in my book, plus reviews of packaged programs that feature all kids of interactive learning on the internet.
The coolest idea for live talking practice is one that’s taking France and England by a storm, and I hope it will come to the states. It’s called Franglish, and it uses the “speed dating” model for language learning. Franglish events are held regularly at cafés or bars.  You sit down with a French person and chat in French 7 minutes, then in English for 7 minutes, then you rotate to a new partner.  What fun! If you’re traveling to Europe and want to try it, be sure to book in advance.  And I hope you’ll check out my new book, which has MANY more ideas for you on learning French as an adult, from beginners on up to advanced students.  Bon courage, and I hope to see you at the book release party!
PS  If you have any famous language bloopers, please add them to the COMMENTS today, to make us all feel a little better about our own! Click here to comment.


Thanks, Lynn, for this fun and helpful post on chatting in French. Reading your book How to Learn a New Language with a Used Brain was a wonderful refreshment for me. After writing about French words for ten years, I sometimes experience the "shoemaker's children syndrome" wherein my own French is lacking while I'm teaching others vocabulary! I would highly recommend your book to anyone wanting to recapture the fun and excitement of language learning. Best wishes to you on this, your book launch day! --Kristin

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Hotels in France. Visit to find the cheapest hotels in almost all France cities.

  Mom cape
A favorite photo of my Mom, who I'll have the chance to spend French Mother's Day with, on Sunday!

Are you noticing a "cape" theme? That's because my Mom yearns to fly....

Jacques and Mom
 Uncle Jacques came over to help clear the olive orchard of its felled branches. It was a massive two-day job. After, Jacques relaxed with Mom, enjoying photos of her home and her animals in Mexico.

friends on the beach (c) Kristin Espinasse

Mom, making friends on the beach. To leave a comment, click here.


A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

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