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A Real Saanich French – For – All!

Author: Adam Gottlieb

Citizen Journalist

It’s official! French Immersion is on the rise in BC according to Canadian Parents for French, and families in Saanich are fortunate to have schools that give kids the necessary tools for success in a bilingual Canada and 45 other francophone countries.
On a bright, early, Friday afternoon, students from Stelly’s Secondary, a local high school, sat down and talked about their experience in the French program.

The following conversations took place in the French grade 11 class of Pierre MacKenzie and Marie-Claude Desforges, visiting from L’Ecole Victor-Brodeur in Esquimalt.

Why are you learning French?

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I want to live in a French-speaking country.” – Nina

The Double Dogwood looks good on a resume.” – Reanne

The Double Dogwood is the BC high school diploma with French competence. For most students it was their parents who originally proposed joining French Immersion.

Other reasons mentioned included small class sizes, great learning environment, connecting with relatives in Eastern Canada and links to learning other languages such as Spanish.

Where would you go live or travel in French?

Europe, West Africa, and Southeast Asia were all popular choices. Students had an impressive knowledge of the extent of the French-speaking world.

What kinds of jobs can you obtain here more easily (or with better pay) because of your French ? Also, where might it be useful to promote your business in French?

Cultural work.” – Karl

Tourism and travel.” – Cameron

Government, schools, daycares, hospitals and veterinary services were also mentioned, in addition to cultural activities and volunteer positions. French was also considered useful for experience and resume purposes, such as the Société francophone de Victoria and the Alliance française.

Merci Pierre, Marie-Claude, Peter, Joanne and the grade 11 French Immersion class from Stelly’s, et bonne chance, good luck!!

Future stories will include primary and middle schools being asked the same questions.
(Students were asked for permission beforehand to cite their names and print their comments).

The following is the first installment of ‘real things french speakers say’, for those wanting to refresh or deepen their knowledge, for travel, work, helping kids, connecting with relatives, understanding the culture – or as a brain exercise!

French-for-All phrase of the month: cul-de-sac

Aside from the dashes French uses for compound nouns, this looks just like the English “cull duh sack,” a dead end, typically in a good neighbourhood. In French it means, figuratively, “dead end,” but literally translated, the “butt end of a bag”.

In standard French it’s pronounced “kü(l) dö sak,” where the ü is made by pinching your nostrils together while saying u like an angry cow, the brackets around the “l “mean it’s only half-pronounced, and the ö is more or less a pinched-nostril version of the vowel sound in “book.” Though one won’t hear people say it so in Canada. “Küdsak!” is more like it.

This tendency to slim down pronunciation is very typical and reflects the playful spirit of Canadian French. One might also notice a certain pride in the uniqueness of the French Canadian way of speaking – a revaluing of street culture akin to a “hey! Wassup?” in American English.

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Related words:

reculer – to back up or, literally, to go again in the direction of the butt
une culotte – underwear
avoir du culot – to have the nerve to do something
une sacoche – a purse
saccager – to ransack or, literally, to bag

But not: Je m’en sac’ – that’s next month’s phrase!

Media of the month: “L’incomparable mademoiselle C.”

This is a funny Québecois movie starring Marie-Chantal Perron, as a rookie postal worker who takes it upon herself to spice up daily life in a drab neighbourhood of a big city. Somewhat like the French hit, Amélie  (Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulin).

Adam Gottlieb is a Saanich-based teacher and health care worker.

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