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Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures

Explore the intersection between French language and culture to gain an advanced understanding of both.
Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 293.
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Rated 1 out of 5 by from What a Disappointment I've only completed the first 5 chapters of the course, but it's enough to know I've wasted my money. The primary problem with this course is that the workbook does not in any way correspond to the review at the end of the lecture, which is listening to and repeating French words and phrases. The review refers you to the "cahier d'exercises" (presumably the workbook), but it doesn't match what they are asking you to say. The second major problem is that the professor often asks questions but doesn't give enough time for new learners to formulate the answer. I found myself stopping the course after every question in order to think, which is very frustrating. Thirdly, the accompanying graphics for the first 3 chapters are apparently photos of her trips to Senegal and Morocco. There is, therefore, a lot of practice saying the French words for Senegalese and Moroccan places, people, and culture. Other reviewers say that the course concentrates too much on France. That was what I was hoping I would get. France itself doesn't really show up until chapter 5. Finally, by chapter 4, she is teaching almost entirely in French. Even though I studied and practiced the lessons, I was still almost completely lost. I can't recommend this course to anyone except people who are extremely fast learners.
Date published: 2024-07-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from not a good approach to learning a language She started off immediately just speaking French when the basics weren't even given. So you might learn a word for something in her approach but without the basic grammar at first, it was just random vocabulary.
Date published: 2024-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved This Course! I enjoyed this course so much and actually went through it twice before visiting French-speaking relatives in Belgium. I studied French (decades ago) in school and found this course to be just about at the right pace for beginner/advanced beginner French students. It was very well organized and followed a logical sequence, in my view. And I loved Madame Williams' positivity and enthusiasm for her subject! (I wish that she had been my instructor, all those years ago)!
Date published: 2024-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amour The course is great, I can understand basic conversations and the 500+guide is a bonus. The key is to relax, listen, and repeat. Merci.
Date published: 2024-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nice to start or to move forward. I went through the course and also read some of the comments about it to assess what were the expectations of others. I would say like everything in life this can be very subjective so as my opinion. Anne's style is brightful, very American, and you can feel she is very passionate about the subject. American style can be too much for some (I am not a native English speaker myself so I understand the issue) but I think she is just as cheerful as needed to make it entertaining and help you to move forward. I was an intermediate speaker (B1-2) when started and it was good for me to understand the language and the grammer a bit better and to remind myself about the basics. But this is something like half a year of university studies in time so expecting miracles after watching all lectures once is unrealistic. Like with every language basically. You have to read a lot, watch news/films in French, etc. to develope your understanding which in French I find the hardest part. So I would recommend to everyone, but 1. for Advanced it could be a bit slow, and boring grammer and vocabulary-wise, good for some revision and for the cultural parts. 2. for intermediate it is good for revision too, also for the culture, to learn some new words and to deepen your knowledge of the grammer. 3. For beginners it is good to start. Learning some words, assess how much you would like to learn French, basically a teaser. Learning a language is a multi-year-long work, there are language courses with 100 hours wich promise to take you from B1 to B2 for example. This one in turn is a net 15-20 hours so do not expect neither more nor less than what it is. It is a fun way to start or and entertaining way to continue. I liked it very much, thanks for prof. Ann for the experience.
Date published: 2024-02-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just not for me.... Unfortunately not a fan of this nice lady, who does not seem a natural actor, this simple thing damages the course. It would have been better if she were seated and felt more comfortable instead of overacting while trying to be "bright and sunny.". I agree with others that he accent is way too American, having taken classes years ago with a native-born teacher. How some reviewers thought they would understand French movies and TV, when I often don't understand muttered English in movies & TV, I don't know. Split screen would have helped us learn vocabulary, but here it's wasted, just saying those of us on line should have a workbook we don't have!
Date published: 2024-01-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Guidebook navigation So far I like the course overall but I do find it difficult to promptly navigate to the applicable chapter Language Lab when that part of the lecture begins. The link on the table of contents for the language lab sometimes does not work. Takes extra time to get there.
Date published: 2024-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Guidebook Do the guidebooks have questions and answers in them, and can I buy just a copy of the guidebook? I have the DVDs, but do not have a copy of the guidebook. Overall, this is a phenomenal course! I'm just into the beginning and she does a wonderful job making understanding and speaking French easy. I've tried a bunch of language learning courses before, but there is nothing better than getting a professor who teaches french to teach you. I'm so glad I found your courses.
Date published: 2023-12-15
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In Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures, you will gain a practical, in-depth introduction to a beautiful language. In these 30 step-by-step lectures, Professor Ann Williams has crafted an effective and engaging course that gives you the core building blocks while also giving you crucial insight into the relationship between language and culture-perfect for anyone serious about learning French.


Ann Williams

I suspect that as you discover more about French-speaking cultures in this course, you will find all kinds of reasons to learn this beautiful language.


Metropolitan State University of Denver

Ann Williams is a Professor of French at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she teaches courses in language, literature, and culture. She earned her Ph.D. from Northwestern University and earned a Diplôme d’études approfondies from the Université Lyon 2. In May 2016, the French Ministère de l’Éducation nationale named her Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes académiques, an order of distinguished academics. She received the 2013 U.S. Professor of the Year Award for baccalaureate colleges from the Council for Advancement of Support and Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Professor Williams has coauthored four college-level French textbooks. She regularly presents conference papers and writes on contemporary France and the teaching of French. Professor Williams has been involved professionally with the Educational Testing Service, including work as a test developer. Throughout her career, she has received several awards from her university and from foreign-language professional organizations. Since 1990, Professor Williams has been an actor with L’Alliance & Co., a French-language theater company in Denver. Professor Williams is an energetic supporter of foreign-language learning and international studies, often using her own trajectory to show students how they can benefit from the experience provided through contact with languages and cultures that are different from their own. In her teaching and research, she focuses on life skills gained through language study: intercultural communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and flexibility.

By This Professor

Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures
Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures


Welcome to the French-Speaking World

01: Welcome to the French-Speaking World

Bonjour! Begin your voyage with a global look at the French language and French-speaking countries around the world. Learning a new language is an active process, and language is deeply connected to the cultures where it is spoken. In this first lecture, you will survey a few patterns and rules to jump-start your understanding of French.

46 min
Ici, on parle français: French Is Spoken Here

02: Ici, on parle français: French Is Spoken Here

One important facet of the French-speaking world is that manners and politeness still matter. Discover a few essential phrases that will ensure you don't commit any faux pas before you've even had a chance to open your mouth. Then survey the basics of numbers, definite and indefinite articles, the alphabet, and geography.

50 min
French around the World

03: French around the World

Continue your exploration of French manners and culture and build on the phrases from the first lecture. Then reflect on several "word families" that will help you build your vocabulary and make connections across the language. Along the way, you'll also pick up a few common verb forms, adjectives, and adverbs.

49 min
Francophone Towns and Villages

04: Francophone Towns and Villages

When traveling in French-speaking countries, the verb aller - "to go" - is one of the most useful. Get to know this verb along with important question words such as "How much?" "Why?" and "When?" This lecture also gives you a chance to listen to a great deal of spoken French to help you practice your de-coding skills.CHECK THIS RECORD

44 min
Weather, Seasons, and Some Geography

05: Weather, Seasons, and Some Geography

Find out how to discuss the weather, as well as what the weather is like in different parts of France. Then shift your attention to times of year-seasons, months, and dates. While you learn about the weather and time, Professor Williams also introduces you to a few new verb forms to help you talk about preferences and things to do.CHECK THIS RECORD

46 min
La Vie en France: Life in France

06: La Vie en France: Life in France

Continue your study of time by examining the days of the week, times of day, and typical French routines throughout the day. More verb forms will help you express what you want to do, what you can do, and what you have to do. And of course, you'll also gain plenty of practice speaking and listening.

46 min
Vacations and Leisure Activities

07: Vacations and Leisure Activities

In addition to teaching you the language, this course also serves as a cultural toolkit. You may know that the French enjoy their leisure time, so here you will discover the language of vacation and leisure, including the major French holidays. You'll also get your first glimpse of the "imperative mood."...

47 min
À table: Daily Meals

08: À table: Daily Meals

You won't get far in a French-speaking country without being able to talk about food and drink, particularly given that mealtime is often sacred in the French culture. This lecture takes you through breakfast and lunch, showing you how to express hunger and thirst, how to order, and the necessary vocabulary to enjoy your meal.

43 min
Buying Groceries

09: Buying Groceries

Shift your attention from ordering food in restaurants to buying food (and other items) from the store. Find out how to count and calculate totals, and review the language and cultural considerations of making a purchase. Then tackle a few more regular and irregular verb forms to help you build your communications skills.

45 min
Where to Eat

10: Where to Eat

Going to a market or restaurant is a culinary adventure. Here, you will put together several things you've learned from previous lectures and take a virtual trip to a restaurant. Professor Williams walks you through a typical dialogue with a waiter. You'll also begin to examine different verb "moods"-the conditional, the indicative, and the imperative.CHECK THIS RECORD

43 min
The Life of the Traveler

11: The Life of the Traveler

This first of several lectures on traveling through a French country arms you with the language around the daily routines of a tourist. Step into a Parisian hotel and have a conversation with a clerk to make sure you have somewhere to stay for the night. Continue your study of grammar with a look at pronominal and reciprocal verbs.

45 min
Public Transportation

12: Public Transportation

This second lecture takes you on a journey around France to immerse you in the language of transportation to help you get from point A to point B. Professor Williams gives you a few common verbs and expressions to help you talk about where you came from, where you're going, and how to get there.

46 min
Travel and Technology

13: Travel and Technology

While values evolve very slowly, cultures often change quickly due to new devices. Round out the unit on life as a tourist with an examination of modern technology. Reflect on the French value of privacy and investigate the way smart phones and the internet have changed the nature of privacy-and the way we travel.CHECK THIS RECORD

44 min
Souvenirs de voyage

14: Souvenirs de voyage

In this lecture, you'll gain a few helpful tools for learning about other cultures and the objects you'll encounter. Discover the vocabulary to talk about clothing and houses, and then review the grammar you've learned thus far. In French, the verbs will always be with us, so take a few moments to survey some new verb forms as well as the subjunctive mood.

45 min
Les Vêtements: How and Why to Dress

15: Les Vêtements: How and Why to Dress

Revisit some of the verbs you've already encountered to help you dress with style, particularly faire (to do or make), savoir (to know), and voir (to see). Build on what you've learned about the subjunctive mood to help you make your sartorial decisions. What you learn here will help you to dress your best for your travels.

45 min
The Home and Private Spaces

16: The Home and Private Spaces

Your final cultural stop around France is the home. Tour the house to uncover the vocabulary of different rooms and their functions, as well as some regional differences in architecture. Then delve into a few "tricky translations" where you must choose the right word for the right situation.

45 min
Je fais des progrès en français!

17: Je fais des progrès en français!

Visit the town of Lyon with Professor Williams to review what you've learned from the past few lectures and see how well prepared you are to navigate an unfamiliar city. Continue studying how get around and ask for directions. Learn a few additional nuances to the vocabulary you've acquired.

39 min
La Musique, le théâtre et la danse

18: La Musique, le théâtre et la danse

You can't understand a culture without understanding its arts. Here, Professor Williams transitions to a multi-lecture unit on the arts, beginning with the world of performing arts. The great news is that much of the vocabulary of music, theater, and dance involves English cognates. This lecture also introduces the past tense.

43 min
La Littérature et le cinéma

19: La Littérature et le cinéma

Shift your attention from the stage to the realm of literature and cinema. Learn key words to help you navigate the bookstore and talk about novels, biographies, histories, poems, and more. Continue your study of verb tenses, which are the building blocks for telling a story.

43 min
L’Art et les artistes

20: L’Art et les artistes

Delve into the visual arts: sculpture, painting, and photography. As you build your vocabulary, you will also add new tools to your storytelling repertoire. With a particular focus on the verb "to be"-être-Professor Williams introduces the imperfect tense, which will better help you describe what is going on in a given situation.CHECK THIS RECORD

45 min
Le Patrimoine: Museums

21: Le Patrimoine: Museums

In addition to the arts, cultural heritage is important in French-speaking cultures. Your first stop is the museum, and your survey helps you put together much of what you learned in the previous unit. Review the major verb tenses-present, past, composé, and imperfect-and learn how to distinguish the different types of past tense.CHECK THIS RECORD

47 min
Le Patrimoine: Customs

22: Le Patrimoine: Customs

Consider the relationship between customs and heritage, and uncover the language for French myths and traditions. Then hone the necessary skills to help you follow a story in French. Find out how to make your descriptions livelier with adjectives and adverbs, including words of "degree"-très, trop, peu, and the like.CHECK THIS RECORD

44 min
Le Patrimoine: Places to Visit

23: Le Patrimoine: Places to Visit

Travel through history and around French-speaking countries to explore several cultural heritage sites. You'll unpack how heritage refers both to the legacy of the past that we benefit from today, as well as what we will pass onto the future. On your tour, you will learn a series of new comparative adjectives.

44 min
Le Tourisme et les régions

24: Le Tourisme et les régions

Because of the connection between language and culture, there are many commonalities among French-speaking countries. But regional differences also abound. From food to everyday activities, explore what makes different countries and regions in France unique. From the Alps to Bordeaux, witness the diverse and exciting variety of the French-speaking world.

42 min
Les Fêtes et les festivals

25: Les Fêtes et les festivals

One of the joys of travel is seeing the cultural connections and distinctions from one place to the next. In this lecture, use the language of celebrations to gain insight into the culture. Festivities include parties, commemorations, and...rodeos! You'll also revisit the conditional "would" tense as well as a few verbs with irregular stems.CHECK THIS RECORD

45 min
Underlying Cultural Values

26: Underlying Cultural Values

While culture often changes, values tend to remain constant, with roots in major historical events such as the French Revolution. Reflect on important values in French-speaking countries, particularly hospitality. Your foray takes you through the language of government, politics, fraternity, and liberty.

43 min
Aventures: Conversation

27: Aventures: Conversation

The difference between mere tourist travel and adventure is that adventure is about immersion, which requires you to engage on a deeper level. This unit gives you that deep engagement, beginning here with the art of conversation. Discover the rhythms of French conversation and some of the cultural rules to set you up for success.

38 min
Aventures: Telling a Story

28: Aventures: Telling a Story

Continue your adventure by rounding out your skills to tell and follow a story. A new verb tense-the pluperfect-will help you tell personal stories, show the link between past and present events, and forge a connection with another person. Practice listening, reading and telling stories.CHECK THIS RECORD

43 min
Aventures: Reading Cultures

29: Aventures: Reading Cultures

You've already encountered the subjunctive tense Now take it to the next level to help you "read" a culture. Refine your ability to observe and analyze the world around you thanks to cultural artifacts. How do people dress? What do they eat? How do they greet each other? This crucial skillset will help you navigate almost any new place.

38 min
Your Future with French

30: Your Future with French

You've come a long way in these 30 in-depth lectures. Learning a new language is a lifelong adventure, but before she leaves you, Professor Williams has one more lesson in verbs to impart. Walk through the ins and outs of the future tense and look to tomorrow. Then wrap up what you've learned so you can continue your adventures in learning French.

42 min