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October 2001 - Parlez-vous francais?

One of the joys of visiting Paris is the thrill of making contact with the Parisians in their language, whether it be overhearing bits of a conversation in a café, buying a ticket to ride the métro, or asking for directions on the street. Many people planning a trip to Paris have studied French and have made appreciable progress in learning the language. Having reached an intermediate level, they often wonder how to attain the level at which the sounds of the French language spoken at a normal and even rapid pace can be more readily comprehended.

Reaching this level is not easy! Fortunately, however, a company called Champs-Elysées has created a program that permits intermediate and advanced students of French to immerse themselves in the language. The program consists of a monthly hour-long audiomagazine (on cassette or CD) that is packed with news, features and interviews reflecting what is going on in France. Accompanying the audiomagazine is a booklet containing a word-for-word transcript of the audio component in French and an extensive glossary section in English.

Each month the glossary contains comprehensive biographical, historical, political and cultural notes in English prepared by experienced editors - many of whom also write for some of the world's most prestigious newspapers and magazines. An optional self-marking study supplement with listening exercises and grammar drills is also available.

Because the audiomagazine is produced entirely in France by professional broadcasters and journalists, the subscriber receives a monthly report of activities in the world of French culture as well as political and economic news. By listening carefully to the cassette tape (or CD) and referring to the transcript as necessary, the student gradually becomes accustomed to the patterns of spoken French - as it is spoken in the real world. There is no slow and deliberate speech here! The student, however, can stop the audiomagazine at any point, and replay any portion to grasp what was said.

In addition to the benefits of improving language skills, the student gains a veritable cultural education; previous guests on the program include politicians François Mitterand and Jacques Chirac and actresses Juilette Binoche and Brigitte Bardot. French cuisine is often discussed, as well as the latest art exhibitions, fashion, cinema, and sites of historical interest.

One of the members of the Discover Paris! staff subscribed to Champs-Elysées for two years. He submits the following testimonial: "I eagerly awaited the arrival of the monthly program to learn the latest news from France. I would first read the transcript, then listen to the cassette. Over the period for which I subscribed, I gradually became accustomed to French spoken at a rapid pace and greatly increased my knowledge of French culture. Best of all, I enjoyed the experience!"

Paris Panorama Newsletters for 2001