All posts by Lisa Knopf

French – German: Stereotypes

Yesterday we had another meeting with our German-French group. We talked extensively about stereotypes and the German and French culture.

At the beginning Leonie wanted to know how we imagine a typical French person, Tim said that the first thing he thinks of is a man with a striped shirt, a beret and a baguette under his arm. To our disappointment, Leonie pointed out that at most a few girls wear them and then only in Paris. She said in general that many French stereotypes only apply to Paris rather than the rest of the country. Another cliché that came to mind was that French people don’t like to speak English – according to Leonie, it’s primarily not because they don’t like it, but that they can’t or have a hard time with the pronunciation. For Tim, the typical public demonstrations in France were another distinctive behavior that he associates with France. From the other French girls I met in Tampere, I learned that the French love tarte – whether sweet or savory, there is almost always a tarte. Also, Leonie has pointed out to us that if we are ever in France must necessarily try frogs or snails, as these are also typical French specialties – I think here I will have to pass, however.

For Leonie, a typical German is dressed in lederhosen and drinking beer. I think this image of Germans still persists worldwide. However, lederhosen are only typical clothing in southern Germany and are mainly worn in Bavaria at traditional festivals like Oktoberfest. Of course, we also got to the classic cultural points like punctuality for Germany and disorganization for French. We ended up with the working conditions; Leonie told us that the unstructuredness of the French comes from the fact that they are always stressed because they work six days a week. In Germany, on the other hand, they only work five days a week. However, in both countries the standard working time is 40 hours per week. Most of the clichés surrounding France come from the capital, Paris, and the behavior of the citizens there. In Germany, on the other hand, life and mentality in Berlin is very different from the rest of the country, even though it is the capital and the seat of government.

In the end we had a long discussion about different types of bread with some difficulties in understanding, that was very funny and led to lots of different photos of baguettes in our WhatsApp chat – but now we know that a baguette like we have in Germany is actually not a real baguette compared to the typical French baguette.

French – German: Listening to Music

Unfortunately, we could not meet now for some time. Therefore, it was all the happier that it finally worked out again today and we have seen or heard us once again.

Since we have already discussed many general topics and I have seen in the blog posts of others that they have listened to music, we have also decided to do so.

We listened to some different songs from various styles from France and Germany and tried to translate them.

Among others, Leonie showed us the song La vie en rose by Édith Piaf, which is known mainly from French films or films set in France. The song is about seeing life through rose-colored glasses. She also showed us two cool (pop) rap songs, Je m’en tape by OBOY and Toutes les couleurs by Ninho. As with the German rap songs, we had to realize that the lyrics in rap songs often don’t make sense. However, we liked the sound of the French rap songs much better than the common German ones.

We showed her Roller by Apache 207 a well-known German rap song, but it really makes no sense at all. We could only explain that it was about scooters.

We also let her hear Pocahontas by AnnenMayKantenreit. A song about a failed relationship, but it doesn’t sound as sad as the lyrics make it sound. Leonie even knew this song.

Of course, a typical German “Schlager” song could not be missing! We have chosen Atemlos by Helene Fischer, which is played especially at the Oktoberfest up and down.

Leonie showed us then finally Sous les sunlights des Tropiques by Gilbert Montagné what is a French hit song about dancing in the sun.

It was really very interesting to hear the French songs. I could imagine to include one or  other song of OBOY in my Spotify playlist, because I really liked the style of his song.

French – German: Usefull words while traveling

After one week break, we had another meeting today.

In the beginning, we were talking a lot about personal stuff, which was related to traveling. Because of that, we then learned some words that can be used in relation to travel or generally in a foreign city, especially in another country.

These included some words like airport, central station, cab, but also distinctive buildings and places like museums, banks, hospitals or schools. We noticed that in French many words are written similarly to English (for example police), which makes it even harder with the pronunciation, because you already have the English pronunciation in your head. And, as we have found out several times, the spelling and pronunciation in French is often very different. Other words, however, were similar to German (for example banque = bank = Bank). Therefore, most of the words will be easy to remember and learn for us.

We also noticed that descriptions at the airport, such as gate or terminal, do not seem to exist in another language but are called the same in every language. Tim had a very good theory about this: Since there are many non-native people at the airport, it would make little sense to translate these words into the local language but so it is easy for everyone to find their way around.

We also talked about the idea that – as soon as Corona allows us to travel again – we want to try to finally see each other in person in France or Germany.

French – German: Cooking Session

On Saturday we finally had our French – German Cooking Session. As Léonie is, unfortunately, currently not in Finland we could not cook all together in real. But at least Tim and me, who are both in Tampere, met and did the Recette Tartiflette. We met at the supermarket, to get all the ingredients needed (potatoes, onions, crème fraîche, cheese). While grocery shopping we had to struggle with some difficulties, because the recipe requires a very special, French cheese – the Reblochon cheese. Unfortunately, we could not find it here in Finland. After extensive Google research, we decided to use Brie as an alternative. Back at my apartment we got straight to cooking as we were already hungry. For the recipe you first had to cut the potatoes into slices, dice the onion and fry both with salt and pepper for a quarter of an hour. Actually, bacon is added, but we omitted it because we wanted to keep the recipe vegetarian. Then the potato and onion mixture was put into a baking dish, alternating with crème fraîche and the cheese. Finally, it had to bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes. Even though Léonie says it looks half as tasty with Brie as with Reblochon cheese, we really enjoyed the Recette Tartiflette. It is quite similar to the traditionale potato gratin (Kartoffelgratin) known in Germany and very substantial, which is why we just managed half of it. Since the recipe is very easy to prepare, we definitely want to try it again with the Reblochon cheese when we are back in Germany. 

French-German: Preparations for the Cooking Session

Yesterday we had another short meeting with our German-French group. We met via Zoom and made preparations for our cooking session on Saturday. We exchanged the recipes and talked about the ingredients and the necessary equipment. We also exchanged some background knowledge about it. Léonie chose Recette Tartiflette for us, which are kind of potatoes with cheese that are backed in the oven – I’m really excited for trying that out tomorrow! She said it’s traditionally eaten while skiing in France, as it’s a very greasy food. We chose Semmelknödel mit Pilzrahmsoße for her because it is easy to prepare. This are dumplings made of old bread with a mushroom cream sauce. In Germany, it is mostly cooked to still use stale bread.

I’m really looking forward to Saturday and I’m already curious how the Recette Tartiflette will taste and if Léonie likes the Semmelknödel mit Pilzrahmsoße. We will keep you updated with some pictures of the ready cooked dishes and of course also with another blog post about the meeting.

French – German: Skills, Education and Professional Talks

Yesterday, we had another meeting to teach and learn French and German.

Before our professional meeting – like I would name our yesterday’s lesson – started we talked again about the cooking session we are planning to do next weekend. Tim and I already decided on two German recipes we want to give to Leonie, Leonie will give us a selection from which we can choose from on our next meeting at the middle of the upcoming week. There, we will then translate the recipes so that we know what we need to buy until Saturday.

After that we started our professional meeting. We planned to do some professional talk. So, basically speaking about skills, professions, education etc. – kind of our CV. It was not only really interesting to get known to the specific words in French, but also to see what the others of us already have done, learned and worked. Again, there came up some difficulties in translating words, as some of the words or processes are only in Germany. For example, it is unique in Europe, that you can do a so-called apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is a special type of education, where you work in a company. You also get paid for that, but additionally visit a vocational school to learn theoretical stuff and also how to use programs, tools etc. in your daily work life. After you have finished your apprenticeship, you can directly start working in this profession. Normally, it takes about three years to get this qualification. This type of education is especially for people, who don’t have Abitur (A Level degree) and therefore are not able to go to an university.

After talking about that, we also talked about the different graduation levels in Germany and France, and how you can achieve them. During this we found out, that there are a lot of similiarities in both countries – Leonie said, the system changed in France and she has the feeling like they just copied the German school system. Furthermore, in both countries, the degrees are at different difficulty levels depending on the region. For example, the final exams in France are most difficult in Paris and in Germany in Bavaria.

French – German: A colourful mixture of phrases

After nearly two weeks we had our third meeting today. We were talking about going to a restaurants and also how to order there and saying what you like or dislike. Once again, we have become aware of some things that we have never noticed in everyday use of the German language, but which are very difficult to explain to a non-native speaker. I don’t know if German is really that much harder to learn than French in terms of grammar or if we just notice it more here. I have the feeling that we do a little bit easier with the French pronunciation at every meeting. However, it is always very difficult for us Germans to understand why something is pronounced the way it is, because there are some peculiarities when a letter is omitted or pronounced. With some words, e.g. poivre (=pepper), you pronounce the r, but not the e – that feels to me like I’m about to have a knot in my tongue. Also, we realized today that we’ve never talked about common phrases of politeness, like Please, Thank you, Congratulations, etc., so we made this up.
Until our next meeting, everyone is looking for a recipe about a typical dish from their home country, which we then want to translate at our next meeting and cook “together” the week after – I am already very excited about what delicious stuff we will make.

French – German: Declination Jungle OR Where and how do I live?

Today we had our second (virtual) meeting. After our first meeting I felt like it’s already a bit easier to pronounce some of the French words, also I was a little proud of myself because I could still remember some of the numbers we have learnt last week.

We were talking about living circumstances: Where and how do we live? When learning and teaching this topic we also came up with some grammatical stuff and recogonized even one more time, that the German language is really hard to learn and also to teach, as we were also quite confused sometimes and did not know directly how to explain the complex grammar rules, like declination. I really have huge respect for all people who voluntarily learn German and enjoy it. But Léonie did very well and showed one more time, that she already has a very good base of German knowledge. The time of our meeting went by way too fast again today, but we had a lot of fun and were able to learn some new words and expressions.

As there is the holiday week in the first week of March we agreed on also having a short break and continue in two weeks. Then we will talk about food and typical German or French dishes, which we then want to cook/bake in our 4th meeting. This will be a lot of fun and I am already looking forward to this.

French – German: About Weird Numbers

We already met las week to get known to each other a little bit and to roughly discuss how we want to organize our meetings. After that everybody could write their preliminary plans and we agreed for our first meeting for today.  As Léonie could unfortunately not come to Tampere, due to the new restrictions, we met via Zoom.

We taught and learnt the first basics, so how to introduce yourself and the numbers until 100. It’s very interesting and funny, that when you count, you must also be good at math: 80 is quatre vingt, which means 4 x 20 or 90 is quatre vingt dix, which means 4 x 20 + 10. That’s really weird for me. Nevertheless, we could also find out something about German numbers, which I was not recognizing until today. If you are counting in German, you always read it the other way around, so you mention first the second number and then the first one, for example 99 is neunundneunzig – in English it would be “nine-and-ninety”. 

Even, if I learnt French more than 10 years ago, it was not easy for me to find the right pronunciation. So we had quite a lot of fun when we were trying to spell it in the right way. Only spelling my name was quite easy, becaus it’s not very differnt to the German pronunciation of the alphabet.

Léonie has already quite a good German understanding, that’s we were speaking more about French language today. We will practice what we learnt today until our next meeting on Wednesday next week. After learning the basics, we are planning to learn and teach more about the world we are living in. So, stay tuned for updates on our journey to become pros in speaking French and German!

Au revoir!