Interview with a French Tutor

Nina: How long have you been studying French?

K: Since 7th grade!

N: What is your favorite way of practicing?

K: Just talking to other people who speak French. When I went to New York, I heard a lot of people speaking French, and I would just walk up to them and start up a conversation. Really any time I hear someone speaking French I try to speak with them. Any other way of learning just isn’t as fun. It’s necessary of course, but it isn’t as entertaining.

N: Are you ever scared to mess up? Or talk to native speakers?

K: Sometimes, but generally no, because I’m never going to see these people ever again. Also, French people abroad are just excited to speak to someone in French.

N: What is your favorite form of French media?

Continue reading “Interview with a French Tutor”

Meet Reed’s mightiest Français tutor!

Come to me with your conjugation, sentence structure, and proposition woes. I am happy to help you with assignments and concepts or use the time as a conversational hour in French. 

My schedule is relatively flexible. Reach out if the displayed times do not work for you. 

Labbie note: Holden can assist you in both 100 and 200 level French classes!

Meet our French and Greek/Latin tutor – Elizabeth Rollison

Hello! My name is Elizabeth Rollison, and I’m a senior GLAM major and French minor. I’ve been taking French since I was in middle school, and have taken both Greek and Latin at Reed. Learning a new language – especially a dead language – is an exciting process, but one that can also feel overwhelming and confusing at times. If you’re looking for a helping hand, feel free to come visit me at drop-in hours or reach out to schedule an individual tutoring appointment!

La Naissance du Hip Hop – MC Solaar’s Revolutionary Legacy

When most people think of Hip Hop as a genre or as a cultural movement, they (rightly) think of New York City. This subculture was born in the Black community of the South Bronx, and quickly spread to other parts of the city, then the country, and within a few years, Hip Hop was iterated in some form almost everywhere in the world.

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five are often credited as the among the first artists whose music was recognised as “Hip Hop”
Continue reading “La Naissance du Hip Hop – MC Solaar’s Revolutionary Legacy”

France’s Dua Lipa? C’est Vrai!

French pop sensation, Angèle, poses in a bold red top (red is her color). Photograph by Manuel Obadia-Wills.

Angèle, a Belgian pop singer, and absolute sensation in France, has been releasing boppy Francophone music since 2016. After a number of hit singles, she’s become a frequent player on France’s top charts. A recent collab even featured Dua Lipa (famous worldwide). Angèle’s music has a distinct sound and clearly enunciated songs, making them great for students learning French.

Continue reading “France’s Dua Lipa? C’est Vrai!”

Try out a French-only dictionary!

Transitioning from English-French dictionaries to French-only dictionaries is a big step towards fluency but it can be intimidating. Luckily, online resources exist to help make French dictionaries more accessible.

For intermediate to advanced French learners seeking to take their vocabulary and understanding to the next level, The Centre national de ressources textuelles et lexicales (CNRTL) is an invaluable online resource. It is a searchable compendium of French language dictionaries, most notably Le Trésor de la langue française informatisé and the 9th edition of the official Dictionnaire de l’Académie française. For those interested in French outside l’Hexagone, CNRTL also has a searchable “Francophone” dictionary.

As a pedagogical tool, CNRTL, particularly when set to the TLFi (Le Trésor), does an excellent job of breaking definitions down into more digestible parts while also clearly differentiating between different uses of the words (metaphoric, literal, etc). Rather than struggling through an entire entry, the website quickly draws your attention to short portions of the text that are most essential.

By clicking “options d’affichage” you can toggle the color-coding settings to highlight what you’re looking for. The default settings use yellow for definitions, green for the word as it is used in a phrase, and orange to specify a certain technical domain or context in which the word may be used. Most un-colored text consists of examples of the word used in a sentence.

Beyond dictionaries, the portal also offers additional tabs such as etymology, synonyms, and antonyms, for those interested in the relations between words. The synonym tab is particularly useful when it comes to spicing up your writing (for example, when you’ve used “aussi” far too many times in one paper). It can also be helpful when it comes to making connections between the literal and metaphorical senses of words.

Here we can see, for instance, that while “esprit” has many definitions and connotations, the most often invoked synonym in English is “intelligence”. Esprit can be difficult to parse in French, since it can mean both mind and spirit, whereas in English we tend to clearly differentiate between the two. The analysis of synonyms here suggests that, outside of religious contexts, it is far more common for esprit to signify ‘mind’.

The website is full of other resources worth exploring, including several collections of works in French, and a database of “ghost” words lost to time.

You can access the dictionaries and pages pictured here at

Bonne exploration!

Film Recommendation: La Jetée

La Jetée (1962) is a 28-minute “photo-roman” (photo-novel) by French New-Wave director Chris Marker. It is composed entirely of still photographs which are arranged into a montage and, as a result, come to acquire a special movement of their own.

The film is set in a post-apocalyptic Paris where all surviving humans live together in tunnels underneath the city. Scientists are researching time travel in the hopes that they can send for help from the past or future.

After many failed attempts at sending test subjects into the past, an unnamed prisoner with vivid childhood recollections is selected and succeeds. After painful conditioning and several deep dives into his own memories, he is eventually sent to the future where he encounters a new kind of human race.

Pushing against genre conventions, La Jetée is science fiction stripped down to its bare essentials- the result is a beautiful interrogation of time, memory, and the power of the image.

This is a great, and short, film for beginner or intermediate learners to practice comprehension; the audio is very clear because it is a stream of overlaid narration, and the nature of the still frames makes the subtitles more accessible.

For those interested in learning more about French film history, La Jetée is a great example of pioneering techniques in montage used by directors of La Nouvelle Vague to disrupt traditional cinematic forms.

La Jetée is available to stream on Kanopy by using your Reed login

Media Suggestion: La Cinémathèque française


The website of the Cinémathèque française, a large film institute and museum in Paris, contains a number of valuable resources for students wanting to learn more about French and French culture. The museum provides a large selection of online resources, including videos, articles, and image archives of both French and international films. Check out the “Découvrir” tab to access interviews with French directors, photo archives of past exhibits, articles on French films and actors, and excerpts from films and film festivals. The resources are easily searchable and have simple categorisation. Recommended for anyone interested in French cinema, improving listening ability, or doing research on film.

French exercise practice: ELFE and Trésor


Elementary French Exercises (or, ELFE) are French language drills to practice grammar and vocabulary. They are organized by subject, so you can easily focus in on your areas of difficulty.ELFE homepage and list of exercises under Topic 1The interface is sensitive so make sure to add accents and punctuation exactly as needed. Although it’s a bit old-school, the exercises are well-designed. They give corrections immediately. And it’s all free!ELFE is accessible through Moodle.



Trésor is a detailed online French language resource with several important applications. First, search your desired word, then toggle between tabs to see:

Morphologie – all morphologies of your word, including conjugations.
Lexicographie – traces your word to its root word and definitions, as well as common cultural usage and example sentences.

Etymologie – etymology and history of your word.
Synonymie – synonyms.
Antonymie – antonyms
Proxemie – installs an extension for your web browser.
Concordance – finds examples of your word in common books or texts

This is an extremely powerful resource, and if you install their toolbar or extension, you won’t need to navigate to the site each time.

Trésor is tout en français.