Speak French with FUSAC
Full disclosure: recently I was contacted by Lisa Vanden Bos of FUSAC to review their new French language books. If you aren’t familiar with FUSAC, let me explain their significance: FUSAC is the website for English-speakers and expats in Paris and has been for the last 25 years. What began as a classified-ads magazine for the English-speaking communities in and around the Paris area, has grown into a website for all things-French related for expats. If you are looking for housing, employment, networking—you name it, you can find it on the FUSAC site. To date, FUSAC has printed over 20 million copies of their magazine! So it is only natural that over the last few years, the company has expanded even further to include fun French-language books to make assimilation even easier.
FUSAC so kindly sent me two books: the first, 90+ Ways You Know You’re Becoming French, is a cute and fun way learn to learn to fit in with French manners, gestures, and habits. After all, you can learn how to conjugate verbs and perfect your accent all you want, but until you learn real French expressions and when to use them, you won’t really sound French! This little book by Shari Leslie Segall offers fun illustrations by Judit Halász, keeping in line with an easy read. It will teach you so many tiny cultural instances that make French people and the language uniquely French. The one that particular made me laugh was you know you’re becoming French when “you find nothing wrong with saying, in English, ‘I’m going to close the light.'” I happen to say this all the time and my husband is constantly laughing at me for it—but, in fact, I got that habit because my Grandmother always said that around the house—and she’s French! Clearly this book is true! So if you want to know when you’re becoming French or in fact, how to sound even more French, this little picture book is up your alley!
The second book, Speak Easy Puzzles: Volume 3 is a great way to really get your French down pat with idiomatic expressions. Adapted from a monthly column in FUSAC for the last 25 years, this book series take it a step further. It is filled with pages of fun matching word-puzzle games that will get your French word-count up in no time. I found it particular useful because it’s broken up into sections like “Spring,” which you might think is all about the season but you’d be wrong; instead it touches on many phrases and instances in which the word “spring” could be used, as in Spring water (Eau de source) or Spring roll (Rouleau de printemps) or even Spring onion (Ciboule). So now you can go to a Chinese restaurant and ask for a “bottle of eau de source, an order of rouleau de printemps for the table but to please hold the ciboule as one of you has an allergy.” Voilà! Page after page is filled with these fun matching games—way more fun than your standard language book.
Learning to speak conversationally and locally is so crucial to really assimilate. So, if you are heading to France soon, I recommend buying these fun books to brush up on your language skills. After all, we know nothing impresses the French more than when an outsider speaks their language well! If you live in Europe, you can buy the books here; if you are in America, buy Becoming French here and Speak Easy here.