Category Archives: How-To

French…With Ease? My Thoughts on The Assimil Method

Here, in North America, we have Rosetta Stone. It sounds pretty awesome and all, until you see the price.

Is that a typo?

Of course, this includes one-on-one time with professional language teachers via a video program like Skype or something. Sounds awesome, but seeing as I’m just trying to warm up before hopefully pursuing French in university, it’s a little excessive.

I can’t even remember where I found out about Assimil. It’s not a household name on this side of the pond, so I was skeptical. Although, the American Amazon site had the French kit up for a total of $40 with shipping, and I was sold.

Just 8 days later and it was on my doorstep when I arrived home from a particularly horrible shift at work. Once I got all the tree sap off my hands (don’t ask, but if you’re ever in the situation, margarine works like a dream), I opened it up. You get a small, but surprisingly heavy, book with over 500 pages of lessons. There are also 4 CDs included, which just have people reading/acting out the exercises so you can work on your accent and word recognition.

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I only use the finest of bookmarks

Here is a look at a lesson:

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Trust me, it makes more sense when you're actually doing it.

I’ve only done the first six lessons, but I feel like this is perfect. It picks up almost right where high school French left off. Instead of memorizing grammar over and over and over again by just filling in the blanks, this system uses it practically. You go over common phrases and how to use them, as well as small grammar things I missed in high school. (ex. make sure you use “de” when asking someone about an object. Vous voulez de la tartine?…oh god that’s probably wrong.)
These were just things that would be crossed off in your essays in high school and you’d have no clue why, you’d just accept it because you were so sick of grammar.

My one gripe: The audio recordings are spoken at a snail’s pace. I want to listen to how a French person would converse with another French person, not how they would converse if they were speaking to an invalid. There should be a fast and slow version of each sentence spoken, but I guess that would have doubled their costs (?)
Oh well, I’ll stick to French TV with the captioning on for that part.

Perhaps I will one day achieve my goal of being able to order what I actually want when driving through rural Quebec. One day, Michelle, one day.

The book also likes to remind you regularly to not try too hard or study too much. I’m already in love. 

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How to Drink Like a 19 Year Old

I spent Saturday night at a pub in the entertainment district, enjoying a few drinks with people I barely knew (birthday parties are fun like that). It’s interesting to see what people choose to drink, and super fun when you realize their personalities reflect their drink entirely.

The world of booze and booze culture is a crazy one, and I’m here to help you navigate through it.

Perhaps you’re an underage high schooler or live in a country with an unfortunately illogical drinking age. In that case, I ask you to bypass this post for legal reasons. Here are some other websites that can keep you busy until then. “Exploring like a badass,”* “Raising animals and making coin like a badass,” and “Nyanning like a badass” are all here to serve you until you reach that beautiful, glorious legal age of yours.

*Sorry, you are all mature almost-adults. 

Now, when one makes the transition into that realm of being legal and all your friends being legal, things change. No longer can a male drink pink Vex out of the bottle with no shame, just because “it’s all I could find in my sister’s stash!” We all know your secrets now. If the football beefcake shows up to the party with a case of pink lemonade Vex and doesn’t even try to disguise it with a handy red Solo cup, it’s going to be both hilarious and…well…hilarious.

Your drink choices, at this point, change from whatever you could pilfer from your parent’s liquor cabinet to something that says something about you.

If Mad Men has taught me anything, it is that having a drink unique to you in your group of friends is important. And that structured undergarments look like a such hassle.

Drinks AND underwear? Nonsense.

Let’s start with beer. That’s how everyone starts, the night, isn’t it? Beer is acceptable to drink at an afternoon barbecue with your grandma (unless your grandma is the Queen, then I’d recommend gin.)

There are two sub-categories here, the “Coors Light” guy and the “Steam Whistle” guy. (Steam Whistle is a micro-brewery in Toronto that has a pretty respectable following).
The Coors Light man is a man who favours popped collars and pick up trucks. A simple fellow who doesn’t understand why the ladies don’t respond to him the way they should. (Hint: it’s the beer in your hand)
The Steam Whistle guy who has good taste in beer. This, to a savvy lady, signifies good taste in other very important categories, including clothing, careers, and personal hygiene. Excellent choice.
For women? Same rules apply, except Coors Light girls are a little less frowned upon, and mostly just pitied.

A true winner

*photo from BlogTO. Click the picture! It’s a pretty badass blog.

Wine. Again, classy and acceptable for non-college-buddy situations. Order it at a bar with your buddies, though? Or bring it to a grad party? Alright, kid, alright. (Ironically, these people are always the ones to somehow get trashed and sloppy by the end of the night. Not so classy now, are we?)

I can't be the only one who first read the "1.0 L" as "LOL"

Hard liquors. 

Whiskey is okay. Respectable, even.

Vodka is the classic. Pretty standard.

Tequila is always a useful tool if you find yourself stuck with a bunch of quiet awkward kids.

Any of these mixed with something fruity or Coke (Coca-Cola!) is a safe bet.

Last, but not least, coolers are for the faint of heart, the occasional drinkers. And the women. Oh, the women.

The name of the game, at this age, is to consume as much as possible (or as little as possible, if you’re on a student’s budget at a bar) and get silly. This is where the drinking games come from. Nothing is more fun than forcing your friends to get sloppy drunk and condemning them to spending the night with the beautiful, smooth, porcelain-faced toilet.

Some popular drinking games include:

Beer pong: Something involving ping pong balls and more red Solo cups that for some reason has only been brought out at parties after I’ve already drank too much to care. It’s almost like they don’t want me to play or something.

Flip cup: Same as above, but no ping pong balls. Something about trying to flip a cup over and chugging your drink before the other team. (They’re all about chugging your drinks.)

King’s cup: A game that needs playing cards turned face-down on a table. Every time one is flipped over, you do whatever the card corresponds with. The rules change every time you and your friends try and drunkenly remember what rhymes with “three.” “Three…tree? What the fuck was three for? Three me? Is that me or you who drinks? No, me me, not you me!” There’s also a cup in the middle where everyone winds up pouring their drinks upon drawing a King, and some poor sap has to drink it at the end. (Protip: Friends drinking Bailey’s are not allowed in this game. Somehow Baileys + Vex = a solid substance.)

He looks quite uncomfortable.

Then there’s also the classic “watching something and drinking every time a code word is said.” Works well with Harry Potter and, well, “Harry Potter” (watch out for Dobby), Rob Ford and “gravy train,” and Jersey Shore and “smush.” (Ew, I’m sorry, I know)

I think that concludes all of the wisdom I’ve gained in my first year of being legal.

Note: This is satire. Please do not be offending if you actually are a 20 year old classy wine drinker or a macho Vex drinking man.

And, I really don’t drink that much. Promise.