was successfully added to your cart.

All Posts By

AllianceFrancaise

Gazette de l’Alliance par nos étudiants !

By | Classes | One Comment

As some of you might have seen this past week we have released our first edition of the “Gazette de l’Alliance,” our very own student-made journal available here.

I am very proud to introduce this fantastic work realized by our students and I want to congratulate and thank them for their hard work, their perseverance and their accomplishments in learning French. I am thoroughly impressed by what they did and as a teacher I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to work with them. Bravo à Ashley, Kim, Lauren et Andres!

I hope you enjoy this read as much as I did.

Please let us know what you think and if you are interested in participating in one of our upcoming class projects.

Merci et bonne lecture.

Geoffrey Ruiz,
Director of the Learning Center

French, Pierre de Coubertin and the Olympics

By | Language | One Comment

The 2018 Olympics are upon us and let me preface this blog post by saying that I am a huge Olympics fan. Being a naturally competitive person, I am drawn to competitions and what competition is more grand than the Olympics?

But don’t worry, I am not here to just talk about my love for sports, athletes and world-wide competitions. Although, if you want to geek out about the Olympics, come into the Alliance and we will chat about fun sports like curling and long ski-jumping (which still blows my mind… I mean how do you get into that?).

But no, let’s talk about the role of the French language in the Olympics. You might be surprised to learn that English AND French are the two official languages of the games. And there is a good reason for that! Firstly, English is used as an international official so therefore, the use of English makes sense for the Olympics.

But what you may not know is that the French language has a long history with the modern Olympic games. In fact, the “father” of the modern Olympics games was a Frenchman by the name of Pierre de Coubertin. He founded the International Olympic Committee (Comité International Olympique) in 1894. The IOC is also located in a French speaking city, Lausanne Switzerland, and guess what… the official languages for the IOC are English and French! So, as you can see, the French language has been closely intertwined with the modern-day Olympic games since their conception. In fact, the International Francophone Organization, that is dedicated to representing French speaking countries around the world sends a representative to each games to ensure that French is being properly used and represented during the competition.

Even though there are more Spanish speaking and Manderin-speaking people in the world vs. English and French speakers, more countries in the world list English or French as an official language (English: 54 and French: 29). Therefore, it only makes sense to have French and English be the official languages of the Olympic Games.

So, why does it really matter? Well, when you tune into les Jeux Olympiques in the coming weeks, listen to the announcers on the loud speakers. For instance, during any medal ceremony (like the one below), everything is announced in French, then English and then in the host country’s official language. In the video below from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, that happens to be Russian. So, for all you French speakers, gear up to use your language skills while you watch your favorite winter sports.

To start you off before the Opening Ceremony, let’s dive into some winter sport French vocabulary. And since I love lists, I made you a couple.

For you hockey fans:

  1.  Hockey – hockey sur glace
  2.  Offense – attaque
  3.  Defense – défense
  4. Goal – un but
  5.  Puck – un palet

For those who can’t get enough of skiing:

  1.  To ski – skier
  2.  A ski – un ski
  3.  Ski goggles – un masque de ski
  4.  Downhill skiing – ski de descente
  5.  Ski jumping – saut à ski

For the curling enthusiasts (me):

  1.  Curling – curling
  2.  Curling stone – une pierre de curling
  3.  To deliver (the stone down the ice) – lancer la pierre de curling
  4.  Broom – balai de paille
  5. 12 foot circle – cercle de douze pieds 

Let the games begin… Je déclare ouvert les Jeux de Pyeongchang célébrant les XXIIIes Jeux olympiques d’hiver !

Jane Eagleton

 

Sources:

1.) http://www.curling.ca/about-the-sport-of-curling/getting-started-in-curling/glossary-of-curling-terms/
2.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Olympic_Committee
3.) https://area-51.blog/2012/08/06/608/
4.) http://speedendurance.com/2015/04/28/why-are-english-and-french-the-official-olympic-languages/

 

 

 

Paul Bocuse: A French legend and culinary icon

By | History | No Comments

Paul Bocuse, embodied all that you think of when you think “Chef” — White coat, tall hat, bit of a play-boy, French. But he was much more than just one of the most decorated chefs of the 20th century. He was a symbol of pride for the French, a leading chef of the post-war era movement “la nouvelle cuisine” and an overall icon of the culinary world and French culture.

That being said, not just France mourned the passing of the “Pope of French cuisine” on Jan. 30 of this year. In fact, hundreds of chefs from around the world dressed in white chef coats to attend his funeral, held in Lyon.

 

But enough about his death, what about the life of Monsieur Chef Bocuse.

To begin to understand this grand chef, let’s look at the opening line of Paul Bocuse’s cookbook La Cuisine du Marché: “Tous les matins — c’est une tradition lyonnaise dont j’aurais bien du mal à me défaire — je me rends au marché et je flâne parmi les étalages. […] Parfois, je ne sais même pas quels plats je ferai pour le repas de midi : c’est le marché qui décide.” – Bocuse 1976

This was a man obviously in a love affair with ingredients, cooking, and the culture around food in France. And he came by it honestly! He came from a long line of chefs, you could call it the family trade. In fact his son is also a chef. What a family affaire, right?

Anyways, he is most known for being the father of la nouvelle cuisine that strayed from the caloric and rich food being served in France and experimented more with light, fresh ingredients in a more simple way. His new and innovative techniques with fresh ingredients inspired an entire generation, maybe multi-generations of chefs around the world. In fact, he practically created the “celebrity chef” image as well. But Bocuse’s fame and success elevated the profession to what it is today, and not to mention that many of Bocuse’s students have become world renowned chefs themselves. Chefs today are respected, celebrated and famous. However, this wasn’t always the case. But thank goodness times have changed, right? Because where would we be without the endless cooking shows on television?

I can’t say enough about how important M. Bocuse was to the culinary world, but if you don’t believe me, just look at his awards and accomplishments. I’ve made a handy-dandy list of some of them for you down below:

  • The Culinary Institute of America honoured Bocuse in their Leadership Awards Gala on 30 March 2011.
  • He received the “Chef of the Century” award.
  • In 1975, he created soupe aux truffes (truffle soup) for a presidential dinner at the Élysée Palace. Since then, the soup has been served in Bocuse’s restaurant near Lyon as Soupe V.G.E., VGE being the initials of former president of France Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.
  • He received the medal of Commandeur de la Légion d’honneur, which is the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte .
  • The Bocuse d’Or, the Concours mondial de la cuisine / World Cooking Contest, is a biennial world chef championship, named after him.
  • His restaurant L’Auberge Du Pont de Collonges was the first restaurant to earn 3 michelin stars and has held those stars since 1965.

 

Overall, this man was highly revered and respected and the impression he left is timeless. Un grand merci à vous M. Chef Bocuse pour nous inspirer et pour éléver la nourriture française. Vous vivez toujours dans nos esprits et coeurs. 

ATTENTION: Stay tuned for our upcoming events and look for a cooking workshop tribute to the grand Chef in April!

A bientôt !

Jane Eagleton

 

SOURCES

1.) http://www.alifewortheating.com/posts/france/paul-bocuse
2.) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/paul-bocuse-obituary-death-france-chef-who-was-he-life-career-a8172636.html

Grammar with Elodie — “U” vs. “OU”

By | Podcast | No Comments

Bonjour à tous!

Elodie Kaplan, our wonderful co-director of the learning center sits down with us and gives us grammar and pronunciation tips when learning French. In this series of the Mais Oui! Podcast, get to know her and improve your French!

For the third episode, Elodie tackles vowels again but this time the sounds “u” and “ou”. Stay tuned to learn how to better pronounce tricky vowels in French!

On y va!

 

 

 

Grammar with Elodie — the ins and outs of H’s and S’s

By | Podcast | No Comments

Bonjour à tous!

Elodie Kaplan, our wonderful co-director of the learning center sits down with us and gives us grammar and pronunciation tips when learning French. In this series of the Mais Oui! Podcast, get to know her and improve your French!

For the second episode, Elodie explains the do’s and the don’ts of pronouncing H’s and S’s… knowing this could save your life! Stay tuned…

On y va!

 

 

 

Sitting down with an old laureate, Jacob.

By | Spotlights | No Comments

 

Let’s hear back from one of our old laureates: Jacob Hamburger!

Back up: Apart from being the leading French language and cultural center of Chicago, for the last 35 years, the Alliance Française has been proud to send outstanding students to France each year under the Alliance Française de Chicago McCormick Award for Excellence Scholarship Program.

Back up further: What is this scholarship? The purpose of the Alliance Française de Chicago McCormick Award for Excellence Scholarship Program is to provide scholarships for American students to study French language and culture in France. The scholarship provides round-trip air transportation, tuition for a pre-approved language and civilization course, at the Sorbonne, and a stipend for living expenses for a four-week stay in Paris.

The Alliance awards a limited number of these scholarships each year to deserving high school seniors from the Chicago metropolitan area who are chosen from among finalists earning top scores on the National French Exam – Grand Concours.

Okay, back up-to-speed: Jacob Hamburger is a graduate student at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, whose work has focused on Cold War liberalism and neo-conservatism in France and the United States. His journalistic writings have appeared in numerous publications in both English and French, and he has translated authors including Michel Foucault and Marcel Gauchet. Jacob covers American politics for the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, with whom he recently co-created a special report entitled “Feeling the Burn”. He is also the editor of Tocqueville 21, a blog devoted to democratic politics and ideas in the twenty-first century.

But before he was all that, he was a recipient of the Alliance McCormick scholarship. We asked him a couple of questions to get into the head of a top scholar and to also see language, traveling and education through his eyes.

Why do you think it’s vital to learn a new language?
“It’s important to learn a new language because until you do, you don’t realize how much of the world is closed off to you. For English speakers, it’s easy to assume that because so many people around the world learn your language, you can travel to more or less any country, communicate with more or less anyone, read more or less any book in translation, etc. It’s only once you learn another language that you realize that people in other countries not only say different words, but speak and think differently, have entirely different assumptions about the world. Even learning a language as similar to English as French opens up a vast territory that is otherwise inaccessible.”

How did receiving this scholarship benefit you?
“Since I received the Alliance McCormick scholarship, learning and knowing French has never stopped opening up new opportunities. When I was in college, for example, I was able to earn a grant to return to Paris to conduct archival research for my history thesis. After I graduated, I returned yet again to complete a master’s degree in philosophy at the École normale supérieure. During this time, I began writing as a journalist in French, notably for the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, as I continue to do.”

Who introduced you to this prize?
“Nobody ‘introduced’ me to the Alliance McCormick scholarship. I had no idea it existed, but during my senior year of high school I took the Grand Concours, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French, as I had done every year. I always did well on the test, and I received prizes that included a small French flag, a t-shirt, and a gift card for $5 to Starbucks. Nearing the end of high school, I almost didn’t take the test again. Luckily, however, I did, and a few weeks later my French teacher called me on the phone to tell me I was a finalist for a 4-week language study in Paris. The rest is history…”

We thank Jacob for a continued connection with us, here at the Alliance, and for taking the time to talk with us and his past, present and future!

A bientôt !

Jane Eagleton

French Revolution Collection at the Newberry Library – and a Chance to Hone your Translation Skills!

By | History | No Comments

Did you know that a piece of French history sits just steps from the Alliance? Since the early 1960’s, our neighbor, The Newberry Library, has been home to a massive collection of over 38,000 pamphlets published during the French Revolution era. That amounts to over half a million pages! The collection contains everything from issues of well-known Parisian periodicals to more provincial publications, and even court proceedings and music.

Reading and cataloging all of these publications may seem daunting, but it’s not a task that the Newberry is going to shy away from. With the help of a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources, The Newberry was able to begin to digitize all of their collection last year. Once digitized, the collection could them become freely available online for scholarly use all around the world. As the pamphlets span nearly thirty years of French history and cover a wide range of topics, they are valuable to a wide range of scholarly fields. Studying the pamphlets can aid developments in everything from legal and cultural studies to notions of citizenship and the history of printing.

Looking through the pamphlets is like stepping back in time. The earliest pamphlets shed light on both the rising resistance to the monarchy and its continued support from those faithful to the crown. There is a whole collection dedicated to the trial and execution of Louis XVI, and, last but not least, over fifteen years’ worth of pamphlets that demonstrate the tumult of the Revolution’s aftermath. It is truly fascinating to watch the birth of a new government unfold before your eyes. You can look through the pamphlets that have already been digitized here, and follow along with the Newberry’s progress on their blog here.

Yet an obvious barrier to allowing these pamphlets to become accessible still remains –the language! The Newberry’s next mission is to work on translating the pamphlets from French to English. They have already begun to partner with some Chicago-area professors and their students to begin translating a select group of pamphlets, and you can see an example of such a translation here. There is still much left to do, however, and this where the Alliance can step in with your help!

Feel like you want to take a shot at translating one of these pamphlets? We are thrilled to announce that we are partnering with The Newberry next spring to organize a translate-athon to assist their efforts. The event will take place on May 10th, 2018, so mark your calendars and brush up on your translating skills (you can practice by combing through the collection online). We hope to see you in May, and stay tuned for more exciting updates on translation here at the Alliance.

Bonnes recherches et traductions !

Women Warriors: A Dahomey story

By | History | One Comment

Who run the world? Girls! Who run the world? Girls!

As we continue exploring other francophone countries and cultures, it’s hard not to pay respects to the all women warrior military group that once protected the Kingdom of Dahomey which resided in present day Benin – a country now a part of La Francophonie. Their name? The N’Nonmiton.

So let’s get into the who, what, when, why, where and add some fun facts sprinkled in there:

**disclaimer… not going in order**

WHATAn all female militant group designed to protect the King and Dahomey Kingdom from foreigners.

WHERE: The Dahomey Kingdom — For about 300 years, the Fon people of Africa, established the Dahomey Kingdom which is resided in current day Benin. It was abolished when the French annexed the territory into their colonial empire.

WHO: They were known as the N’Nonmiton by the Fon people (the people of the Kingdom of Dahomey) and as the Dahomey Amazons by the Europeans that encountered them. They were feared, respected and ruthless. And in many ways, if not in all ways, they were considered to be superior to their male counterparts. For instance, they were known to never retreat from battle while male warriors were supposedly punished for doing so more than once. This is why the N’Nonmiton were the chosen ferocious protectors of the Ahosu (the King in the Fon language) and repeatedly put their lives on the line for his safety. There were 5 classifications or regimens within the group, named after the weapon or purpose of the women.
1) Huntress (Gbeto in Fon): They were the gunners. In fact, many women were huntresses before joining the N’Nonmiton and their strong skills landed them in the exclusive group.
2) Riflewomen (Gulohento): They accounted for the largest portion of the warriors. They were known to be exceptionally lethal in close combat and carried spears and short swords.
3) Reapers (Nyekplohento):  These women were especially feared. Legend of their effective cruelty and sharp swords that could slice a man in half with one swipe struck fear in the hearts of their enemies.
4) Archers (Gohento): They were picked from the most impressive and steady-handed young women. As archery became less and less used, they transitioned into moving weapons and to caring for the wounded and dead soldiers.
5) Gunners (Agbalya): They accounted for 1/5 of the army and the loud sound of their guns were used as an intimidation strategy.

WHEN: During the Dahomey Kingdom reign of the 18th and 19th century until the colonization of current day Benin by the French.

WHY: As the slave trade became more and more prevalent and as wars with neighboring tribes, countries and kingdoms became imminent, the Dahomey Kingdom started to lose more and more men who could fight for the kingdom. The women were first recruited from delinquent, outsiders or captives from other neighboring countries or tribes. Others were princesses who were attracted by weapons or volunteers or those drawn from a lot. This mix matched lot of women turned into one of the most fierce and impressive women warriors in all of history.

Now that you have an introduction, let’s get into more about these women. Being a woman warrior was no easy task and was not taken lightly. They were the bodyguards of the King and lived in the royal palace with him. No one, except on special occasions, was allowed in the Royal Palace with the King except for these women and the King never went anywhere without the protection of the N’Nonmiton. So, as you can see, they were a pretty big deal. Even when they left the Royal Palace, they were held in such high respect that they were escorted by servants who made sure none of the townspeople looked at them or disturbed them. However, there was a price to pay to become a part of the women warriors. They had to leave their family, vowed to die for the King, and were sworn to celibacy. If one of them were found pregnant they could risk expulsion from the N’Nonmiton or worse, they could risk being sentenced to death. Only the King could take them as a wife or give them to male warriors who showed a certain bravery in battle. So even as the best warriors of the Dahomey Kingdom and protectors of the King, they were still considered property of the King.

The N’Nonmiton were abolished after putting up long, gruesome fighting against French colonizers, but their memory and legacy live on in tradition in Benin. These women were also known for their exceptional and meticulous performances during parades for the King. Their dancing, singing and impressive use of weapons as props proved highly influential on the Fon people. Even so, that in present-day Benin, their dances and rituals are still performed in their memory. And women are still a part of the armed forces in Benin in part to carry on the legacy of these devoted, powerful, cutthroat women warriors.

 

Jane Eagleton

Sources:
http://www.unesco.org/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/publications/dahome_en.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahomey
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahomey_Amazons

 

Grammar with Elodie — intonation and vowels

By | Podcast | One Comment

Bonjour tout le monde!

Elodie Kaplan, our wonderful co-director of the learning center sits down with us and gives us grammar and pronunciation tips when learning French. In this series of the Mais Oui! Podcast, get to know her and improve your French!

For the first episode, Elodie dives straight into pronunciation of vowels and intonation. On y va!

 

 

 

“Ça va ?” : A conversation

By | Language | No Comments

Salut tout le monde, ça va?

Have you ever noticed how much francophones use the phrase ça va? Yeah, a lot. Like a lot, a lot. It feels like you and I could have an entire conversation using different variations of ça va!
Let’s highlight ways to use this simple phrase to expand our vocabulary and converse more naturally. I took the liberty of coming up with a little made-up conversation between two imaginary friends to start us off on our ça va journey. On y va !

 

M: “Salut Hélène, ça va ?” 
H: “Salut Marie ! Oui, ça va merci. Et toi ?
M: “Bah, ça va bien.”
H:Ça va ton nouvel boulot ?”
M: Ça va très bien ! J’adore être avocate.”
H: “J’ai toujours dit que ça t’irait bien.”
M: “Et toi ? Ton nouvel boulot ? Ça va ?”
H: “En fait, pas beaucoup. Être médecin est vraiment difficile.”
M: “T’inquiètes pas, cela deviendra plus facile avec le temps. Ça va aller.”
H: “Merci Marie! Alors, je m’en vais. Je t’appelerai demain. Ça ira?”
M: “Bien sûr. A bientôt!”

 

After all of those ça va‘s (9 to be exact), are you still with me? How many different definitions of ça va did you find within that conversation? Ça va is probably one of the most useful and versatile sayings in the French language and highly utilized in familiar, friendly speech. Its meanings can range from “How are you?” to “It suits you!” Master this phrase and it’s meanings and you’re on your way to mastering conversational French.

Let’s dissect the above conversation to really see how simply you can use ça va in many different ways in a casual conversation.

M: “Salut Hélène, ca va ?”
        Hey Helen, how’s it going?
H: “Salut Marie! Oui, ça va merci. Et toi?
       Hey Marie! I’m good, you?
M: “Bah, ça va bien.”
        Oh, it’s going well.
H:Ça va ton nouvel boulot?” 
How’s your new job
?

M: Ça va très bien ! J’adore être avocat, c’est sûr.”
        Oh, it’s going great! I love being a lawyer, that’s for sure. 
H: “Bon, j’ai toujours dit que ça t’irait.”
        Good! I always said that it suits you
M: “Et toi ? Ton nouvel boulot ? Ça va ?”
        And you? Your new job? How is that working?
H: “En fait, pas beaucoup. Être médecin est vraiment dûre.”
        In fact, not really. Being a doctor is really hard. 
M: “T’inquiètes pas, il deviendra plus facile avec du temps. Ça va aller.”
        Don’t worry, it’ll get easier with time. It will be okay
H: “Merci Marie ! Alors, je m’en vais. Je t’appelerai demain. Ça ira?”
       Thanks, Marie! Okay, well I’m off. I’ll call you tomorrow. Will that work?
M: Ça va. A bientôt!”
        Okay. See you!

 

There are also many more ways to use ça va. In fact, here is a list of ones that we have learned and ones to try out:

  • Ça va, Marc ? / How’s it going, Marc?
  • Oui, ça va. / Fine.
  • Tu vas bien, André ? / Are you okay, André?
  • Ça va. / Yes, I’m okay.
  • Il faut être prêt dans une heure, ça va ? / You have to be ready in an hour, okay?
  • Ça va. / okay.
  • Oh ! Ça va ! / Hey, that’s enough! (A personal favorite)
  • Ça va venir / It’ll happen, it will come.
  • Ça te va (bien) / That suits you.
  • Ça lui va bien / That looks good on him/her.
  • On va partir vers midi, ça va ? / We’ll leave around noon, is that ok? Does that work for you?
  • Ça va les filles ? / How’s it going, girls?
  • Ça va le nouvel ordi ? / How’s the new computer working?
  • Ça va les filles ? / How’s it going, girls?
  • Ça va aller ?  / Will it be okay? Will that work?
  • Ça va aller /  It will be okay.
  • Ça va le nouvel ordi ? / How’s the new computer working?

(examples found from https://www.thoughtco.com/ca-va-vocabulary-1371141)

Don’t hesitate to try out these phrases and get to talking.
A bientôt, mes amis!

Jane Eagleton