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Intermediate French: Understanding spoken French
Intermediate French: Understanding spoken French

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2.1 Peggy and introductions

Now you have prepared some ideas of what might be said during an introduction, listen to how Peggy does it.

Activity 3

Listen to Peggy introducing herself.

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Look at the list below while you listen to Peggy. Tick the piece of information that she doesn’t give.

a. 

Prénom


b. 

Domicile


c. 

Age


d. 

Profession


e. 

Activités professionnelles dans le passé


f. 

Famille


g. 

Mariée/célibataire/divorcée


h. 

Loisirs


i. 

Origines


j. 

Etudes


k. 

Caractère


l. 

Ce qui la rend heureuse


The correct answer is e.

Answer

Peggy doesn’t mention her previous professional activities.

Activity 4

Now listen again to Peggy, stopping the recording if necessary. Complete the table below in French with the information she gives. Write single words or short notes; don’t worry about your spelling or other features of your language accuracy: in this task you are developing your listening comprehension skills, your ability to understand spoken French rather than your ability to write accurately.

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Prénom
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Domicile
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Age
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Profession
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Famille
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Mariée/célibataire/divorcée
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Loisirs
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Origines
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Etudes
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Caractère
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Ce qui la rend heureuse
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Words: 0
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Answer

PrénomPeggy
DomicileTours, Tours-nord, région Centre
Age37 ans
Profession infirmière
Famille 2 enfants (garçons)
Mariée/célibataire/divorcéemariée
Loisirs chanteuse
OriginesGuadeloupe
Etudesdroit, anglais, infirmière
Caractèredrôle, fait rire les gens, confidente
Ce qui la rend heureusefamille, amis, la chanson

Peggy speaks quite fast and is certainly not the easiest person to understand in this series of video clips. Do not worry if you did not get all of the answers. The important thing is that you were able to use some of your work from the earlier activities to pick out at least some of the key information.

Activity 5

Now listen again, this time with the transcript. Listen for the information that you missed in your answer to Activity 4.

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Discussion

This activity has demonstrated the extent to which knowledge of the topic and context can help to understand authentic spoken French. Using your knowledge of the kinds of things people often say when presenting themselves for the first time may have helped you to predict the subject areas that Peggy was likely to talk about. Using these ideas, you were then able to think about French words and expressions that you might expect to hear. In short, your previous knowledge of the world and the French language helped you to predict possible content and language before you listened to the clip. Your first listening then enabled you to confirm and adjust your expectations as well as familiarising yourself with the speaker’s language choices, delivery and voice. Having identified the subject matter and the order in which topics were presented, a subsequent listening (stopping the recording as and when necessary) allowed you to fill in information about the key areas you had identified. A final listening with the transcript permitted you to confirm your understanding of key words and phrases and perhaps add to your language knowledge.

In short, you used prior knowledge of the topic and the French language to make sense of new information and perhaps new language items. Predicting likely content and brainstorming possible language for the topic area are both valuable pre-listening activities. You can then use what you succeed in understanding in a first listening to confirm and adjust your expectations.

You may have employed other comprehension strategies, such as visual clues (you saw Peggy with her two sons), cultural knowledge (Peggy’s family photo from Guadeloupe) to help your understanding, as well as using a transcript to confirm what you had heard and consolidate your language learning. You will return to all of these strategies in more detail in later activities.