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Get ready for beginners’ French
Get ready for beginners’ French

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6 Trying it out

Now try this next activity, which presents some more new bits of vocabulary, and tests a few of the concepts you’ve been learning about so far.

Activity 8 Test your learning: vocabulary

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

See if you can match these words with their definitions. Look out for cognates and words that you can make sense of yourself and, using the context, watch out for the false friend!

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. l’aéroport

  2. le jardin

  3. le parc

  4. la grappe

  5. la banque

  • a.a place to grow plants, either to eat or look at

  • b.a location you travel from (whether that’s long- or short-haul)

  • c.a location where money is safely kept

  • d.fruits that grow together (like dates or bananas) are sold in these groups

  • e.a place to take your dog for a walk, or for children to play football and ride bikes

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = b
  • 2 = a
  • 3 = e
  • 4 = d
  • 5 = c


Your confidence in coping with slight differences in spelling, and/or the presence of accents (more on this shortly in Week 4) should have helped you match the definitions successfully. And by a process of elimination (another useful strategy when language learning) you will have identified the false friend.

Would you have translated the word grappe as ‘bunch’, or does it look like something else? Une grappe de raisins is French for ‘a bunch of grapes’. This shows how a French person learning English needs to be wary of false friends too. In French the word raisins means ‘grapes’, while the French word for ‘raisins’ is raisins secs.

Described image
Figure 9 Left: des raisins secs. Right: du raisin.

There is no doubt that learning new words is the basis for achieving a good command of any language and you can see that this task does not have to be insurmountable. Starting from the knowledge that there are probably a number of words you can already recognise in French, from your observations of the context, and from your personal knowledge, you can develop the confidence to tackle brief written texts that otherwise you may have turned away from. As you discovered in this week’s activities, you can apply strategies to understanding the written word which go beyond simply trying to remember vocabulary. This shows you that developing strategies as a language learner, and as a language user, is as important as learning vocabulary. With experience, it will become second nature.