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on aime | we like

Quelle histoire

One of our lovely students brought back this charming petit livret* on Coco Chanel from a recent trip to France. We frequently have people ask us to recommend children's books as a starting point to reading French, which in theory sounds like a good idea. However, if you think of the average vocabulary of a five or six-year-old, it is quite extensive: they can ask for pretty much anything they want.  Therefore, children's books are often more difficult to read than one would expect. At the time of writing, we still haven't found a series of simple story books for learners of French. If you know of one, we'd love to hear about it.

This series by Quelle Histore, while not extremely simple, is great because they tell the story of a known figure, using illustrations help to flesh out the tale. While you're unlikely to understand every single word, with the help of a good dictionary (we recommend you'll be well on your way to reading your first French book.

Coco Chanel is just one of many mini-biographies produced by Quelle Histoire. Bonne lecture!*

*little book | *Happy reading!

DE QUOI? | say what?

REtournons à nos moutons | Let's return to our sheep

If I had a euro for every time I've pulled this one out in a lesson...

I love this French saying as it not only evocative but effective as well.

Our French lessons here at Lingua Franca are casual affairs. Of course, we want our students to learn, and we're happy to report they do, but with groups of like-minded people passionate about French as well as countless other topics, we can sometimes become side-tracked. 'Retournons à nos moutons' (which literally means 'let's return to our sheep' or more colloquially 'let's get back to the subject') is a gentle and amusing way to remind everyone to come back to the topic at hand - le français*.

Apparently the saying originated from a 15th century French play called La Farce de Maître Pierre Pathelin. It tells the story of five characters, each more dishonest than the next, and includes a courtroom scene where the accused is instructed by his lawyer to answer all questions directed at him by saying 'Baaa' in an attempt to have him declared mentally instable. Sounds très drôle* indeed.

*French | *very funny