Knowing that no online translation tool is perfect, we hesitated a bit before writing this article. So we have performed tests to assess a number of them based on two well-known texts, written in plain but vivid language, and beyond the narrow confines of ordinary conversation. For translation from English to French, we used a sample of Winston Churchill’s speech, known as “We Shall Fight on the Beaches. » For the translation from French into English, it’s the first verse of the song “La Boheme” by Charles Aznavour that has served us as a model.
Here are the automatic translators that we found the most faithful. But keep in mind the Italian expression “traduttore, traditore” (translator, traitor) when you visit!
Google Translate is a free multilingual service that allows for instant translations. It can translate words, phrases, web pages and texts of up to several thousand words in any combination of supported languages. This service also allows you to hear the pronunciation of words, phrases and sentences.
Worldlingo is another multilingual translation tool. According to statistics, it has an accuracy rate of 70-75%, which is excellent for this type of software. There you can translate texts, documents, emails and websites. However, the free translation is limited to 500 words. On the other hand, it is possible to get unlimited translation and even the services of a professional translator for a fee from the site.
Finally, Reverso is the third translation tool that we propose today. It can check the spelling of text before doing the translation to increase its accuracy and it is possible to hear the source text. Although it also seems possible to listen to the translation, this could not be verified in our tests. The site also offers, for English and French languages, sections on grammar, conjugation, spell checking, general dictionaries and thesauri as well as several bilingual dictionaries.
French page including accented vowels : http://www.reverso.net/text_translation.aspx?lang=FR
English Page : http://www.reverso.net/text_translation.aspx?lang=EN
To experiment with different translation tools or to hear « La bohème » about which we talked about earlier, do not hesitate to consult the posts which will appear on the blog GoFrenchGo this week.
See you soon,
The Bon Français team
Culture is something intangible, abstract but pervasive. It is therefore not surprising that it also tinges the holidays, even those that are internationally recognized and celebrated, giving them a local flavor everywhere and consequently raise their interest. In addition to dealing with some peculiarities of the French language with respect to Easter, this article also addresses the way this holiday is emphasized in France.
Le Portail Linguistique du Canada (Language Portal of Canada) devotes an article to Easter. Among other things, it examines the origins of this religious feast and the customs that surround it. It also gives an explanation of the spelling of the word Pâque(s), the gender, number and articles associated with it. Finally, some French proverbs of this celebration are displayed on the page along with their meanings. In French only. http://www.noslangues-ourlanguages.gc.ca/bien-well/fra-eng/vocabulaire-vocabulary/paques-easter-fra.html
To increase awareness of French culture, the site LoveToKnow presents an article entitled “ How Do the French Celebrate Easter “ and offers an overview of the games, holidays, and customs surrounding the celebration, focusing on traditional dishes that are prepared and served at that time. In English only.
CLÉ (Le Centre Linguistique pour Étrangers de Tours, en France – Linguistic Centre for Foreigners of Tours, France) proposes a linguistic and cultural exercise for which the two preceding articles will have prepared you. This article is a fill-in-the-blank test about the traditions surrounding the feast of Easter in France. Multiple-choices for answers are presented with each statement to allow you to test your spelling and grammar knowledge while familiarizing yourself with this aspect of French culture. http://www.cle.fr/centre_linguistique-fr-idm-105-n-Exercices-idh-71.html
Happy Easter !
With the arrival of spring, many of us want to be on the move and are actively preparing for their holiday. For those planning to visit a French speaking country this summer, we selected a few sites to initiate you in French, and French for travelers websites that will surely be useful.
The following language method is a courtesy of Learnissimo. It includes illustrated phrasebooks, audio, and quizzes to test your skills while having fun. This method, based on everyday French, is perfectly suited to travel and will allow you to learn essential vocabulary as well as correct pronunciation.
Travlang also offers language courses especially designed for travel. You must initially select your native language, then the one you wish to learn. The French course is accompanied by audio files in standard and Quebec French . The vocabulary is divided into the following pages: Basic Words, Shopping and Dining, Travel, Directions, Places, and finally Time and Dates. At the bottom of each page, there is a quiz to test your knowledge.
About’s Laura K. Lawless offers French travel lessons in a newsletter you receive over six weeks. She covers topics such as: Travel Vocabulary, Accommodation, Airport, Directions, Emergency! , Shopping, Ailments, Banking and Money, Restaurant and Transportation. You may also have direct access to all these lessons by clicking on a link that appears on the following page: http://french.about.com/c/ec/22.htm
Have a good trip!
To follow the posts of the last week relating to vocabulary, we offer to you today three visual dictionaries.
The first, whose reputation is well established, is called simply Le Visuel. It is said that it “shows, says, defines and explains.” The online version allows you to navigate through 17 themes by clicking on the thumbnail or to use the search query to go directly to the section you want. This visual dictionary addresses of 800 subjects and includes 20,000 word definitions and realistic illustrations, all with audio files.
The second very interesting free resource is the Dictionnaire Visuel en ligne (visual dictionary online), a multilingual tool that translates the words of your choice with links to Google translation and to Babylon’s dictionary while showing a dozen images from Yahoo, so you can often see all the meanings of a word in a single glance.
To conclude, here is Le corps humain virtuel (the virtual human body), a product of QA International, as is Le Visuel. Clicking the following link will allow you to explore the human anatomy with images in three dimensions. The site offers 10 systems and tracts to discover and 2000 words pronounced and defined in the box that appears when you click on a specific area of the image.
Have a good week
Today, we offer you three different vocabulary sites to explore. But remember: human memory being what it is, that is to say a function that forgets, it is not enough to be exposed to something once. We know that it takes between twelve to fifteen repetitions to allow the transfer from short term to long-term memory and internalize the new knowledge.
Lexis is a site that presents French words in 10 lessons. The first five are devoted to nouns and the two following to verbs. Two other lessons are dedicated to adjectives while the tenth and final lesson is devoted to adverbs and phrases of time, place, quantity, manner and interrogation. Like all other sites developed by the teaching team of Hong Kong University, it includes many audio files.
Interlex is a free Windows application suitable for language learners at all levels who want to learn vocabulary in a foreign language quickly and easily. First you compile a list of words and phrases, and then you test yourself until you have learnt them. Four different modes of testing allow you to transfer the new knowledge to long-term memory. Interlex also includes a pop-up menu that appears when you click a text box with the right mouse button to insert a foreign character or symbol. http://www.vocab.co.uk/
Wordprof offers French vocabulary lessons built around the British exam system in three different ways: Interactive lessons will teach you over 600 words of basic vocabulary with recordings in French (Internet Explorer only); Online lessons allow you to study and revise over 9,000 words of vocabulary — and improve your English spelling at the same time. Finally, Vocabulary Tests will show you how much progress you have made. http://www.wordprof.com/
This week we continue our exploration of the great resources offered by the French teaching team of Hong Kongs University. Two courses, one of which is in two parts, are on the menu.
The first course, French for Beginners, contains 28 chapters including several audio files. It addresses phonetics and pronunciation, word stress and intonation of the sentence as well as liaison and the unstable “e” vowel. It also examines the negative and interrogative forms, imperative and reflective verbs, “to be”, pronouns and adverbs.
Both volumes of the course for beginners Contact focus on communication. Each one offers a series of 10 situations drawn from everyday life; each text is accompanied by an audio file. The texts include many colloquial expressions which are often used in conversation, commonly used vocabulary, as well as a demonstration of grammar in use and language structures.
The first volume explores several situations of particular interest to tourists as you can see in the list of contents (in order of presentation): Interview, Rencontre (Encounter), Rendez-vous, Correspondance (Correspondence), Au restaurant, Au marché (At the market), À l’hôtel, À la gare (At the train station), Au téléphone and Weekend.
With titles such as: Demander le chemin (Ask the way), Au magasin (At the store), À l’aéroport, the second volume of this series, as does the previous one, offers to learners situations that may be of interest to travelers. There are more titles like : À La radio, Chez le docteur, Entretien (Job interview), L’appartement, Discussion, Journal (Diary) et Au cinéma.
Have a nice week!
The Bon Français Team
This week, we present to you resources on French grammar developed by Hong Kong University’s French teaching team. They are recommended to early learners of French, but more advanced students can also find them useful.
Structures is an audio grammar aiming to help students to enhance their understanding of the basic language structures and to improve their accuracy in terms of communicative skills. The objective of this series of 12 tutorials is to summarize a range of essential grammatical aspects which play a central role in the early stages of the learning of French. The various cases are approached in a descriptive way, with an emphasis on illustrative examples rather than prescriptive rules.
French Grammar Online is a French grammar written in English whose visual presentation is nice and original. Click on the shopping street’s flags, lampposts or street signs to discover the general rules that apply to the domain of the verb, to the noun, the adverb, the adjective, the pronoun, the article, the preposition and the comparative.
Hong Kong University also presents the Online Grammar Exercises, a beginner-level series of self-corrected activities which include notably articles, determinants, gender and number, adjectives, pronouns, the affirmative form, the interrogative form, the negative form, prepositions, verbs and the comparative. Requires Internet Explorer.
Have a nice week!
To celebrate La Semaine de la Francophonie (the Francophonie Week) which runs from March 13 to 20, which is la Journée internationale de la Francophonie, we present three sites to familiarize you with the different cultures and accents of the French speaking world.
Discover on the site of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (International Organization of Francophonie) its actions in the fields of international politics and multilateral cooperation, and its Member States. The OIF, founded March 20, 1970, aims to give substance to active solidarity between all 75 states and governments that make up the Organization (56 members and 19 observers) – more than a third of UN Member States.
The following link takes you to the map of the Francophone world.
French Connection is a page examining the French language as it is spoken throughout the world and discussing cultural issues relating to French language and identity. What does the French language mean to its speakers across the world? Listen to the answers of people from France, Benin, Senegal, Algeria, Quebec, Martinique and Guadeloupe. Another series of interviews addresses the issue of the French language today and tomorrow.
Wikipedia devotes a page to La Francophonie. Having given a definition, the site makes its description and tells its history, and also gives the number of French speaking people in the countries of the International Organization of La Francophonie and in the rest of the the world. Among other things, it also addresses issues such as Culture and Media.
See you next week
This article presents companion sites to methods for learning French. These four sites have several things in common : they are all intended for adult learners at the beginner level, they complete textbooks published by Pearson, and they offer a surprising number of resources and activities that will surely help you improve your French.
Here is a link to the online study guide of the textbook Chez nous: Branché sur le monde francophone. It contains 12 chapters and an introduction, each composed of three elements. « Audio Resources » lets you hear the lessons, their vocabulary and get the student activities manual audio. « Practice » lets you try auto-corrected activities, play with Flashcards or a Soccer Game to check your understanding of each lesson’s vocabulary and grammar presentation.
The « Web Resources » element is divided into four sections : first, the « Textbook and Student Activities Manual » exercises, followed by « Web-Based Activities » as Surfons sur Internet (let’sbrowse the Internet) that includes topics related to the chapter theme and Venez chez nous (come to our place) which explores the francophone web. The « Expansion Links » section is devoted to fun links. Finally, « General Resources » includes dictionaries, French directories and portals as well as the section Language and Culture Resources.
Let’s explore the study guide to the 12-chapters textbook Français-Monde: Connectez-vous à la francophonie. It includes the following resources: In-TextActivities Audio with 4 to 7 links divided into sections such as « Pour bien communiquer » (to communicate well) with phrases; « Écoutons! Voix francophones au présent » (Let’s listen to contemporary French Native speaker voices) which presents a variety of native French regional accents; and « Pour bien prononcer » (To pronunce well). The Student Activities Manual Audio are located at the bottom of the box; it contains 8 to 16 audio files by chapter.
Another extensive study guide is the one to Rond-Point: Une perspective actionnelle. For each of the 18 chapters, it offers the following resources : « Practice Exercises » which is divided into En contexte (in context) for vocabulary, Mémento for grammar auto-corrected activities, and Flashcards.
« Web Activities and Resources » includes Internet Search Activities and Regards Croisés which provides interactive culture-based activities, as well as additional resources such as online dictionaries. « Audio Resources » contains In Text Activities audio and, at the bottom of the box, the Workbook/LabManual audio.
The online study guide to accompany Parallèles: Communication et culture includes for each of its preliminary and following 13 chapters the outcomes of each lesson, 4 learning steps (étapes) with practice exercises for vocabulary and structures as well as sections named: Voyage en Francophonie (Trip to the French-speaking world), Cultures en parallèles (cultures in parallel), Le mot juste (the right word) with audio flashcards, Soccer Game, En Direct Audio, Cahier Audio and Resources, which is a repository of links to dictionaries, French directories and portals, translation tools as well as Language and Culture Resources.
To continue in somewhat the same vein as last week, we present a series of sites that complement the method ofTapis Volant (flying carpet), a fully integrated course in three stages written specifically for secondary school students learning French in Australia and New Zealand. Even without the books, the Tapis Volant website, with its abundance of interactive exercises remains very useful for all learners of French.
Tapis Volant 1 is intended for beginners. The site consists of 16 different units each of which includes several exercises. Each unit presents first the outcomes. The exercises are divided into multiple sections : Situation where you listen to the story and fill in the missing speech bubble or highlight a missing word; Manières de dire (ways of saying) where you match a picture with the appropriate label; Grammaire where you will find fun activities to practice your grammar; Vocabulaire where you classify the words to test your vocabulary; and finally Lecture where you identify the missing word from the story. Finally, the Infos section allows you discover more through links to surf the web.
Tapis Volant 2 is the companion site to the second textbook of the series and has 12 units meant for intermediate learners. After a short presentation of each lesson’s outcomes, we find the same sections as the previous site : Situation to listen to a story, Manières de dire (ways of saying), Grammaire (grammar) and Vocabulaire to improve your vocabulary by choosing the correct word. The Infos section is replaced with Document culture with links and suggestions of keywords to discover more through research on the Internet.
Tapis Volant senior is the companion site of the last textbook of the series and was created for advanced learners. Under the Podcasts tab, you will discover a link leading to a site that allows you to watch or download ten different videos. Extra Material provides access to PDF documents containing some exercises that can be done without the manual. Finally, the Grammar Quiz tab offers two to four questionnaires for each of the ten units.
See you next week,
Your Bon Français team