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french langauge

French Language Profile

Fascinating language spoken across the world and access to a great country – France. As Barry Farber says :”No matter your other language achievement, you will be judged by your French”

Introduction:


Usefulness:


French is highly useful for any activities involving travel to France: whatever great minds the French have, they are poor polyglots. If you go to France and want to understand something of the country, speaking French is a must. Speaking a few words will help considerably, but don’t expect people to applaude just because you mumbled a heavily accented Bonjour Monsieur. The French can be extremely demanding and even rude, especially in Paris, to people who do not speak French well.Speaking French will be very useful in many countries besides France, such as North Africa, Québec, and in many “black” African countries. Unless you wish to learn the local dialects, French will often be the only language widely understood (see below for more details about each country).

Chic factor:


French is one of the most chic languages you can learn. It is associated with haute cuisine, fine wines, culture, philosophy and a stunningly beautiful country.But be aware that to be chic, you need to speak French correctly. It is a not a good idea to start showing off your French if all you know is a couple words and you make mistakes in every phrase. The French themselves do not take kindly mistakes in their language, even from foreigners. I read a lot in English and it seems almost every French word in italics I encounter in English texts, especially from the US, contain mistakes. I am not sure who these people are trying to impress, but they certainly miss the mark for anybody who speaks French.

Countries:


French is an official language of : France, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Canada, Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Belgium, Rwanda, Haiti, Switzerland, Burundi, Togo, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Comoros, Djibouti, Luxembourg, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mauritius, Vanuatu, Seychelles.It is also widely understood in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon. You will also find small communities of speakers in a dozen other countries.

Speakers:

About 75 mio speak French as their mother tongue, but a further 55 mio know it as a communication language.

Economic importance:

French will open you one of the world’s largest economies, France, and allow you to do business in various North African countries where French is the lingua franca of the business intelligentsia.If you do business in France and are selling anything, a knowledge of the French language is almost indispensible. French businessmen often speak little or no English, and feel much more confortable dealing with a business partner they can adress in French.

Travel:


France is the most visited country on earth. I believe there is something attractive to do in France for anybody at any stage of his life. More than 20,000 castles. Some of the nicest beaches you can find. A food used as a reference for fine cooking all over the world. Wines. Truffles. Amazing landscapes, hiking trails and outdoor pursuits. Incredible museums. I have visited France several times a year for over 20 years and can see it from my bedroom (I live on the Swiss side of Lake Geneva) and still it captivates me.The language considerably help travel in France. The French are often quite chauvinists, especially with non-white, non-French speaking tourists. It’s sad but that’s the way it is. If you speak French well and understand a bit of the culture people’s values, you can bring back amazing memories of interacting with the French. This makes for more vivid recollections than the monuments – trust me. Travellers who visit the Maghreb (Tunisia, Algery and Morroco) report that a knowledge of French can get you anywhere in those countries, whereas learning Modern Standard Arabic does not.

Variations:

Good news for the learner – if you speak French you can travel the world over and only encounter mostly cosmetic variations. The French will say quatre-vingt when they mean “eighty”, whereas the Swiss will say huitante. In the South of France the accent is much more musical and some words are pronounced differently, like année (year) pronounced like an-née. People from Quebec will use about a hundred special words, such as piasse,boisson, demeurer, chum, blonde, which are great fun to learn and do not pose any problem for mutual intelligibility after a few hours. Variations in accent can be downright hilarious and are indeed an attractive feature of the language. Besides the small vocabulary differences, they are similar to the differences in accent between a middle class person from London, a farmer from Virginia and a surfer from California.If you need to choose an accent to learn, for example when planning a study trip, I encourage you to go for the Paris accent if you can. I am myself a Swiss and do have a different accent (very pleasant!), so you will get it straight from the horse’s mouth. If you learn French in Africa, or Québec, Switzerland or Belgium, your accent will always be noticed wherever you go. If, however, you speak with a mainstream France accent, people will just notice you speak French and are from out of town.

Culture:


French culture is seen as the epitome of refinement in several domains, litterature, philosophy, architecture, arts and cuisine. You will have no lack of intellectual pursuits to maintain your French, be through films, television, books or newspapers.There some excellent French movies - often available on DVD with subtitles. Please note that many French movies are done on subsidies and would probably not get a theatrical release in other countries. The proper euphemism for those movies in France isfilms confidentiels. French non fiction books are not always very user-centered and practical. French authors, when given a choice, seem to prefer trying to impress the reader with their culture and intelligence rather than trying to get understood. French fiction is terrific, and there are enough wonderful books in French to last you for several lifetimes. 

French TV is sometimes very good, with some excellent documentaries. People who do not live in Western Europe will probably not get the mainstream French channels but can rely on TV5, an international TV channel with programs from French, Canadian and Swiss televisions. Talk shows are very Parisian and require a detailed knowledge of the latest local celebrities to be understood. French newspapers can provide you with a continuous flow of interesting reading material, most of which can be accessed for free over the Internet. The most important dailies include Le Monde, Le Figaro and Libération. For weeklies look out for Paris Match, not an intellectual publication but which ususally comes with the best photos of the week’s international events and with quality articles. These newspapers can be quite partisan and self-centered, but so are the French. 

French popular music is very good. The three most famous singers of chansons à textes (songs appreciated as much for their words as for the music) are Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg, but there are many other French singers with a high quality production. Try to look for Barbara, Michel Sardou, Boby Lapointe,Noir Désir or Bérurier Noir. Bande dessinée. The French speaking Belgians have created a form of art know as Le Neuvième Art which has no real equivalents outside France, Switzerland and Belgium. The bande dessinée is nothing like Comic books although it uses the same device of little boxes with drawings and bubbles filled with texts to tell a story. Bande dessinées are read by children and adults alike, and tell complex stories with incredibly creative drawings. 

Paris is the best city I know for shopping. New York is filled with soulless chain stores. London is expensive and has rude and underpaid shopping attendants. But Paris – ah Paris. Sure the shopping attendants are rude, but if you speak French, you can get back at them. And the more you do, the nicer they become. Just try. Paris has thousands of shops for every budget. Many of those shops are unique. This means you can find stuff you would never find anywhere else in the world. I buy jams from Le Furet, a jam-maker in the business since the 17th century. The owner has only one shop, refuses to sell to supermarkets as he would not be sure to be able to keep the quality up for every batch. 

He supervises the fruit picking himself to guarantee that only the best fruits will make it into his jams. My teas come from Mariage Frères, a century old tea trading house with a handful of shops in Paris and two in Japan. That’s right, French people selling tea to the Japanese. They stock more than 450 teas of the highest order. I regularly spend an hour discussing the merits of various types of white tea or the latest harvet of Darjeeling. All in a beautiful shop in a picturesque street. Even if shopping in Paris is not an option for you right now, you have to keep this amazing possibility in mind when learning French.


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German Language Profile

A powerful and streamlined language that gives you access to the largest economy in Europe, German is only slightly more difficult than French.

Introduction:

Usefulness:
 
If you deal with Germany or Austria, either as a tourist or for business, speaking German is a key asset. The problem is that you need to speak it well, since the Germans like precision and exactness. They will not like talking to you if you constantly make mistakes. Furthermore, many Germans speak good English and like to show it off. Unless your German is flawless, they'll switch to English.
Chic factor :

German is a language that few learn for pleasure, and none because it is easy. Consequently, anybody who learned German enjoys a special status and a good measure of chic.

Few people speak any German, and those who do are seen as exceptional people. I recall attending a trade show in Milan back in the days when I did not speak any Italian. I wanted to ask some questions to a short man at a booth, and asked whether he would rather speak French, English, Spanish or German. He immediately chose German, altough I am quite sure he also spoke some of the others. We spoke in German while all his colleague were looking at him in awe, murmuring Lui parla il tedesco (He speaks German!). Since less than 3% of the Italians speak any German, this Italian was justly proud of his achievement.

Countries :

Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and in regions of Italy and Belgium.

 
Speakers:

There are aproximately 75 million German speakers Germany, 7 million in Austria, 260,000 in Luxembourg, 3,400,000 in Switzerland, and about 1,500,000 in Alsace-Lorraine. There are many German speakers in Eastern Europe but the subject is quite sensitive and no statistics are available. The total number of speakers, including non-native speakers such as myself, is said to be 120 millions, but I could not verify this.

Economic importance:

German is a language of immense economic use in the German-speaking countries. However, it does not enjoy the lingua franca status of English, French or even Spanish. German is useful only when dealing with people whose mother tongue is German, whereas you might speak English to a Taiwanese businessmen or French to a Morrocan.

German companies manufacture some of the highest quality products available anywhere. In the course of my business I met many people who earn their living by buying various high-priced equipments from Germany, then selling them across the world. A long-term relationship with the German factories is greatly helped if you speak their language.

Germans are demanding but loyal clients. If you speak German, you will get many more clients from Germany than if you could not. I made that experience myself. Even those Germans who speak some English would much rather trust some person who speaks in German if available.

Travel :
 
Apart from the Germans themselves, you will see very few tourists in Germany. In a way this is a pity since the country has so much to offer, but it also means you get the country for yourself and won't have to cope with hordes of tourists with pink legs and video cameras around the neck.

Amongst the many beautiful areas that you can travel to on German are the beautiful Bavarian Alps, with the Berchtesgadener Land and its immaculate Königsee, the fairy-tale castles of Ludwig II, the beautiful historical town of Salzburg and the friendly regional capital, Munich. Further in the Alps are our beautiful Swiss cities of Bern and Zurich, as well as Austrian Innsbruck and its captivating Renaissance castle, Schloss Ambras.

There are many other places to visit in Germany, such as Nürnberg with the Dürer house and the remains of the nazi vision of a new Roman Empire, the city of Freiburg-am-Brisgau and its University, the giant metropolis of Berlin and Hamburg, the small picturesque port of Lübeck.

Germany is not a place of gastronomy, and finding a fine dinner should never be taken for granted in Germany and you should make sure you buy the latest German-language Restaurantführer.

Variations :
 
You should not need to learn any of the numerous German dialects. Every German-speaking region has its own dialect, but usually writes in the regular German (the one you can learn, also known as Hochdeutsch). In the North of Germany, the dialect is Plattdeutsch, in the South East, Bayerisch.

Although in Germany everybody speaks German without problem, in the Swiss-German speaking part of Switzerland many people will be confortable only in schwyzertütsch, the local Germanic dialect. Schwyzertütsch is great fun but hard to learn since it is not written and is different in every valley or city.

Culture:

German culture can provide for a lifetime of fulfilling experiences. It is not as easy to embrace as French or Italian culture.

German TV is abundant - I get more than 50 channels of it. Evening news are very seriös but rather easy to follow. Entertainment programs can be quite fun to watch. On week-ends you can see a typical German Bierhalle where hundreds of middle-aged people are sitting on benches at huge tables, drinking from enormous glasses of beer and eating sausages, while a German popular singer sings German country songs. A German TV presenter in a suit with long, carefully combed hair walks down the aisle and asks the people what they think of the song, the singer or the food. These shows seem to last all weekend and are quite spectacular to watch - for a few minutes.

German newspapers are numerous and some of them are of the highest quality you can find, even if they make for tedious reading and provide little entertainment. You can now read most of them over the Internet for free:

Die Zeit, an intellectual newspaper from Hamburg
Die Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the serious daily from Zurich
Die Süddeutsche Zeitung for general news from Southern Germany
Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, where several hundred PhDs work to create serious article every day with an emphasis on business and finance.
My choice for daily news is Google News Deutschland. Germans also publish weeklies, paper copies of which you can often buy abroad. The best knowns is Der Spiegel.

German music comes in two brands. One was written by the likes of Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg-Friedrich Haendel, and is played in historical buildings by musicians wearing suits. The other one is heard in huge Bierhalle where grids under the table allow people to urinate while sipping gallons of beer.

Classical music, German composers have created some of the finest music of its kind. A knowledge of German will increase your experience such music sung in German, such as the many choir works by Bach or the captivating operas by Wagner. Such is the magnetism of such musical work that an American client of mine learned German only to follow Wagner's cycle of operas - Der Ring - in Bayreuth, and he now speaks German very well.
German popular music comes in the shape of drinking songs and contemporary pop music. Not all of it is bad, and if you care for easy-listening music you can actually learn some songs by heart to get you in the spirit of the language.
German non-fiction is of good quality and plentiful. It makes for hard reading though since both language and style are usually very dry. I personally much prefer to read books in English, which seem to be written with a greater concern on keeping the reader interested and making sure he understands. After English, German is the second language in which new books are published and German books benefit from fine publishing due to a long tradition and large print runs. My favorite source to buy books, DVDs and CDs in German is Amazon.de.

German litterature is amazing, with immense authors such as Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Schiller, Goethe and others stacked in the Belletristik section of German bookstores. They are not easy to read, but if you are serious about German you should at least once in your life read one cover to cover.

German history did not start in 1933. There are many interesting historical events, institutions and monuments you can visit in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, outside of World War II. But let's face it - if given a choice many people will want to look backstage at what was the war on the German side. And there is much material, some of very high quality. Even if you are not a military buff, you can visit former bunkers, fortifications and remains of that era all over Germany. They make for a grisly but captivating visit. One such book, Hitler's Ende, recently made into a film, gives a detailed account of the last days of the Third Reich, showing how it fell apart and its effect on the German Führer.

German cinema is nowhere near Hollywood in terms of size or budget, but there are enough good films in German available on DVD to keep you busy for a couple years. Most have subtitles in English, but the best is to get subtitles in German. Some great German directors to watch out for are Werner Herzog, who shot incredible movies with his nemesis, actor Klaus Kinski. For young people, a must-see movie is Lola rennt (Run, Lola, Run).

                
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Ashu jain has over 18 years of experience in the field of International career , Immigration , Education consulting and  Foreign language linguistic  . She is also running a foreign language  school in the beautiful city Chandigarh (AIFLC). She is the member of french association of France (IATF).  She has traveled extensively and guided a large numbers of aspirants to leading US universities at both, the undergraduate and graduate levels. She has successfully guided a large number of students into the leading universities of the US including the Ivy League, MIT, Cal-tech, Stanford, Yale and the UCs, U Toronto,