Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category
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
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
Portals or directories, each of the several sites that we present today are worth a long detour. Whether you are looking for a complete course or just want to check a specific point of grammar, you will surely find what you need there.
Charity begins at home, the proverb goes. Well, we start our nomenclature with our own FSLall directory, searchable in English as well as in French. It includes over 1400 free online resources for French learning and teaching, carefully divided by levels and categories. One of these categories is devoted to business French and is designed specifically for those who must write or speak French at work. http://www.fslall.com/
Le point du FLE: This site lists and organizes high-quality free resources, relevant and useful in the fields of French as a second, foreign or native language. Its main sections are: activities, grammar, tenses of the indicative and other moods, French for specific audiences, general resources and a special section for teachers. It offers French dictionaries, audio exercises, humor, vocabulary, FFL courses online and news. There are also writing tips, software downloads, and resources for French teaching. For all levels. http://www.lepointdufle.net/
ClicNet is dedicated to French as a second or foreign language. Although this site is not regularly updated anymore, it remains of high value. The many educational resources there are directly usable in a French course and are classified by subjects. Each one shows a description and the language level required. (Level 1 = beginners and false beginners; Level 2 = intermediate and advanced ; Level 3 = high advanced). http://clicnet.swarthmore.edu/fle.html
In conclusion, we would be remiss to ignore the excellent Français Facile website which contains thousands of French resources and of which we made an extensive reference to in our last article.
The Bon Français team
As we know, punctuation clarifies the meaning of the sentence, and indicates pauses and inflections of the voice in reading. But the punctuation rules of French and English are somewhat different. They are generally stricter in French. Therefore, we selected sites and pages that will teach you the use of punctuation and of capital letters as well as exercises to strengthen your newly acquired skills.
La-ponctuation.com : Developed by a small team of web professionals and enthusiasts of the French language, this reliable, easy to use website is accessible to everyone and allows you to find the rules and uses of the signs of punctuation and capital letters. In French only.http://www.la-ponctuation.com/index.html
However, this useful page of Oxford Language Dictionaries’ website offers a short summary in English about main French punctuation rules including several examples:
LanguageGuide.com : Here is a fun and useful page designed to help you hear, learn and recognize the names and the spelling of all the punctuation marks. Simply drag your mouse over each one to listen to and repeat its pronunciation. http://www.languageguide.org/im/punctuation/fr/
What is theory without practice, if not something quickly forgotten? Fortunately, the Centre collégial de développement de matériel didactique (CCDMD) offers six drag-and-drop exercise modules, each of which includes 20 different sentences to punctuate. After submitting your choice, the model answer shows explanatory tooltips to help you understand your mistakes. http://www.ccdmd.qc.ca/fr/jeux_pedagogiques/?id=1082&action=animer
The Bon français team
Speech synthesis is a technique to deliver a written text by computerized voice. This technique is used particularly by and for the visually impaired, in industry (think of automated interactive messaging, for example) as well as in the multimedia field.
In our opinion, speech synthesis is also of considerable interest in a second or a foreign language learning. It makes it indeed possible to hear the exact pronunciation of a word or a text chosen by the learner himself. Therefore, we have selected three websites that let you type a word or a short text to hear its correct French pronunciation.
Acapela-group.com : You will find on this website a multilingual demo to convert written words and sentences into spoken speech. Simply enter a text up to a maximum of 200 characters, including spaces, and then choose a male or female voice, French or Canadian to listen to an audio rendition of this text.
Wizzard Software.com : This site also offers a speech synthesis multilingual demo to convert written text into a high-quality audio reading. Enter a text of your choice up to a maximum of 255 characters, choose a male or female voice with a French or a Canadian accent and listen to the reading. http://wizzardsoftware.com/att_NV_demo.php
Oddcast.com : This last site offers a Text-to-Speech multilingual demo allowing to hear what you write. Enter a word or a short text up to 150 characters, then choose a male or female voice, French or Canadian and see an avatar read it without an accent. It is even possible for you to create your own avatar on the site!
Three Virtual French Keyboards to Learn to Write With Accents
To write correctly in French, you necessarily have to use accent marks. Basically, the accents – acute accent (´), grave accent (`), circumflex accent (ˆ) – the umlaut (¨) and the cedilla (ç) – play two roles in French: they change the pronunciation of the letter they mark and indicate a difference between words which would otherwise be identical, for example: pêcheur (one that fishes) and pécheur (one who commits a sin).
This week we offer you three links to virtual keyboards that allow you to write correctly in French.
Les-Claviers.com: Here is a site that offers virtual keyboards for many languages, allowing access to special characters, accents, and symbols specific to each. You’ll find also on this page a currency symbols keyboard, a mathematics keyboard, and a typographical keyboard including signs such as the ampersand (&) and the at symbol (@). Useful! http://www.les-claviers.com/
Gate2home.com : The French keyboard which is on this site is an excellent emulator that will allow you to type in French from anywhere in the world. This site also contains tabs to write and send an email directly in French, to search the French versions of Google and Wikipedia, as well as to access the multilingual translator Babylon. http://www.gate2home.com/?language=fr&lay=4&sec=2
Incks.com : This site offers virtual keyboards in multiple languages and several different alphabets. The French virtual keyboard has typographical signs such as currencies, mathematical operations and exponents. The site also allows the registration of a document as a text file and viewing, editing and printing your text. http://www.incks.com/en/french.html
Spelling, syntax, vocabulary, and the use of the words : the three following sites will help you to write impeccable French, whether to translate or to compose directly in Molière’s language.
Office québécois de la langue française
The home page of the Office québécois de la langue française (Quebec’s Office for the French language) contains many resources including Le grand dictionnaire terminologique (The Large Terminological Dictionary), a repository of linguistic troubleshooting help, a virtual library, and loads of interesting links. You will also find a section of language games and many specialized or bilingual glossaries. http://www.oqlf.gouv.qc.ca/
Termium Plus is a bilingual English-French website containing a Spanish section as well. It is the Government of Canada’s terminology and linguistic data bank specialized in translation and interpreting. This site’s French section contains among other things Les clefs du français pratique (The Keys to Practical French), ConjugArt (The Art of Conjugation), an analogical dictionary to find French equivalents of hard to translate English terms, and an invaluable co-occurrences dictionary giving the list of adjectives and verbs suitable for a given noun. http://www.termium.com/
This web site provides a spellchecker. Enter a word as you pronounce it, without accents or hyphen to get its correction and a comprehensive definition with its etymology and history, its pronunciation and even statistics of its use. http://atilf.atilf.fr/tlf.htm
Have a good week !
Dictionaries of synonyms also called thesauruses or thesauri are excellent tools for intermediate or advanced learners who want to better their French vocabulary or the quality of their writing in that second or foreign language.
Here are a few suggestions for good online dictionaries of synonyms:
And remember that your comments and suggestions are always welcome.