French Reading

Since living in France I have always found it hard to read in French. In fact at first all the language was difficult to differing degrees. I could start putting words together before actually understanding anything someone would say to me. So conversation was difficult for one thing, and even now, I can’t quite handle a table full of people talking at once.

For sure, it’s taken me a long time to write in French. With the aid of my French lessons and writing to French friends on internet messengers I’ve got round that. But as I say, reading in French for me, is harder.

One of the main reasons is laziness, but another reason is that a lot of novels and stories are written in passe simple – which is only used in written form. You’ll never hear someone speaking using that tense, it would sound pretty funny if they did!

I read lots in English – I’m a veritable bookworm there, but as soon as I read a French paper back I don’t get much further than the first chapter.

So recently I decided I’m going to try, try again. You will laugh, but I started reading bande dessinés a few months back starting with Iznogoud. Then I progressed onto Asterix and have since read about 5 of them. I even bought one, but at 6 euros c’est pas donné.

The nice thing is that I actually understood about 70% of them, then reread them to try and understand more. I’m now a veritable Asterix addict, although I’ll draw the line at visiting Parc Asterix to the north of Paris !

Now having read my last Asterix (I’ll no doubt buy some others) I am now attacking my first paperback seriously. Thumpah and me have become hooked on the soap opera “Plus Belle La Vie” shown on FR3 at about 8.20pm. So much is our addition, that she bought two paperbacks over the internet which cover the past episodes that we have missed through not watching it from the start.

So now I’m reading “Les secrets du Mistral” – which covers the very first episodes. I would guess that as these are published for the mass public that the written French is rather simpler. Still it’s all a bit of a minefield scattered with that annoying passé simple again!

I think I will perhaps last out longer with this paperback though – it’s a lot less frustrating because I am interested in les secrets du Mistral 😉

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Technorati Tags: reading, lire, french, France, Asterix, Plus Belle La Vie, passé simple

0 Replies to “French Reading”

  1. I started by reading children’s books in French–souds stupid, but they are written more in the common language than with that horrible French that no one speaks anymore. Usually the storyline was such that I didn’t need to concentrate on it that much and could shift more of my efforts to just understanding the language. After a little effort (ok, a few years of effort) I can handle pretty much anything except Zola.

    Les BDs are very good for that, too–everyday French and oodles of those fabulous plays on words that the French love so much.

  2. Yeah, I started with “Le Club des Cinq” by Enid Blyton (known as “The Famous Five” in English) – but I remember that the passé simple was something that put me off for some reason and was even in those.

    When I was taking some French lessons earlier this year, one of the teachers would raid the freebie newspapers available at stations on the RER lines in the Paris region. He would arrive, after making a long train journey from the north of Paris down to my region in the south, walking into the classroom with an arm full of newspapers.

    Before the lesson started, we’d spend about 30 minutes reading the articles – then afterwards our teacher would start a discussion on a few of them, picked by people in the class. Unfortunately, as my spoken French was better than most in the class (many hadn’t been in France as long as I had), it would end up with a heated discussion between me and the teacher. But I sensed that he enjoyed it.

    This improved my reading skills no end and of course you won’t see the passe simple in most newspapers and magazines. 🙂

  3. My girlfriend will seldom read in English – even if she can. I suppose it’s just the same as me being too lazy to read in French.

    Never heard of Marrakesh Express. Is it good?

  4. Hi John,
    I left a comment on one of your entries; seems that my name automatically kicked into the others, like this one….why?
    this technology is beyond me….help! 🙂

  5. Hi Aniela,

    Don’t know why that happened. What do you mean by your name “kicking into the others”? That your one comment has appeared on other articles?


  6. My comment appeared appropriately, with the one specific blog I responded to. What surprised me was that each one of your blogs that I read now has the “leave a reply” section with my name and email address already filled in. Maybe it’s an automatic feature to make responding easier for readers? That only shows up on the screen of the specific reader? Thanks, John.

  7. Ahhh got ya.

    Yes – that’s a normal thing. Your PC saves a cookie from the site, which adds your details automatically each time you post. It’s supposed to make life easier for you, although some people think that it’s just a site “spying” on you.

    Only you can see it, though…

  8. Le petit Nicholas! I love that series, even if it’s meant for 6 year olds. They’re filled with useful phrases and at least I can “hear” them speak in my head. It helps me set up a rhythm. Plus, I love the drawings.
    I recently bought some Asterix and Tintin in France and I read them on my way to work. Those who laugh are just jealous.

  9. I wouldn’t worry about people laughing – quite a lot of adults in France are not ashamed to admit that they read the BD’s. In fact when a new one comes out, go to the books section of a supermarket and you’ll see kids and adults sitting on the floor reading them!

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