Convenor: Julie Gadsden
This group caters for people whose knowledge of French is at intermediate standard, typically having studied French at school. A second group, French Level 1, is aimed at beginners and those who are less confident in reading and speaking French.
Several group members own houses in France and many of us travel there on holiday. Each week we have a mix of reading, listening and talking, sometimes playing games in French and sometimes doing some exercises to improve our understanding of the French language. We use a mixture of resources from French books, magazines and newspapers, games and podcasts.
There are some particularly good on-line resources which we can recommend to those wanting to start learning or improving French (they are also good for other languages). They can be accessed via your computer or as an app on your tablet.
- Radio Lingua Network (RLN) provides on-line courses and podcasts for French, Spanish, German and Italian. The series Coffee Break French is available at no charge; make sure you select the tab titled “Free Lessons”. (You can pay a subscription and receive additional materials.) You will find 15-20 minute podcasts suitable for Beginners through to Advanced. Our group uses the Intermediate level which introduces you to native French speakers, but speaking at a slower rate than the Advanced Level. The “Verb Fix” podcasts are also good for practicing common verbs. Note: You shouldn't need to log on to the Coffee Break French site. If you click on the "Free Lessons" tab and then on, e.g., "Season 1 (Beginners)" you can then click on an individual lesson (using the "Continue Reading" link). Then scroll down a bit and you'll find a black bar and just under that click on "Download". You will then get the lesson for free. (You can also set it up on a tablet which means I can take the lessons along to our group discussions as a podcast and play it offline.)
- Duolingo is a fun way to learn a wide range of languages. Again you can access this for free (not much is gained by paying) and it is suitable for beginners upwards. Duolingo presents you with ‘bite sized’ lessons which are easy and fun to work through. Duolingo keeps track of your progress and takes you back to repeat lessons at intervals to make sure you revise what you have learnt. It can become quite addictive.
- News in Slow French provides weekly podcasts of the news in French, but spoken slightly slower than normal conversation speed which makes it easier to follow. You can access parts of this for free on either computer or tablet (you can choose to listen either at slow or normal speed). The free version gives you the first couple of news stories as audio and the first page of the text. To get the full audio and text you have to pay a subscription. Note: you if you are a using a computer, as opposed to the app on a tablet, the audio will stop after a short while and you get a message saying “This is a premium content that requires subscription”. All you need to do at this stage is to click on the words “Continue with News Stories” and you will be taken to a page where you can hear some more of the audio (but not get the written transcript). But you will eventually hit a point where you cannot proceed further without subscribing.
This group meets every Friday afternoon apart from the first in the month when the U3A meeting is held.
Due to the need to involve everyone in discussion we have to limit the size of this group which unfortunately currently is full. For more information or to enquire about being added to the waiting list or help set up a second group, please send Julie an email using the link at the top-right of this page.
Finally, members of the Group may be interested in the activities of the Horndean Parish Twinning Association who arrange events and visits with our twinned town Aubergenville in Yvelines, France.