Daily life - Education


#Ecoutez-vous les fleurs!
See the flowers on the (royal flame) poinciana tree. This one is above the hill at 6-Mile in Port Moresby - looking towards 7-Mile and Jackson International Airport.
The flowers are seasonal.
Since the trees sport the flowers towards Christmas time (Southern Summer), some people refer to them as Christmas trees!
Je m'appelle Thomas. (My name is Thomas.)
Hellow, people.

JUNE 26, 2011
This is my third blog in this website.
Here, I am going to share with you come from my basic notes from my French classes - and those that I picked up from other sources.
I am learning the language with Alliance Française in Port Moresby, PNG.
What I am writing come from my notes and they may have to be updated, from time to time, if I spot any mistakes.
If you are a French speaker, please feel free to help me and others learning the language.
Merci beaucoup!

I wanted to learn Spanish when I was 19 years old. If I knew then what I know now, I might have learnt Spanish all on my own. But I know it is not too late now because a few years ago I took some basic lessons in another foreign language that is related to Spanish. And, if everything went fine, I should be saying things like: “Amigo, buenos dias!” which means “Friend, good day!” or “Manana mi madre!” which means “Tomorrow, my mother!”
Spanish as well as French, Italian, Portuguese and the old Latin are Romance languages and they are related. A French lecturer told us that English is much more related to German than the Romance languages though a good number of words that we use in English come from some of the Romance languages.
There are some countries in the world, apart from France, that if you do not speak France, you would be lost. Such countries include the past colonies of France in Africa like Senegal, Morocco and Algeria.
People in New Caledonia and in French Polynesia (Tahiti) and some parts of Vanuatu were educated in French.
Latin is said to be a dead language because it is not spoken on the streets like other languages. Only people who have gone to colleges or universities in western countries learn Latin. You cannot hear kids hollering in Latin, in European countries, while playing a soccer game.
However, some of the abbreviations that we use in English originate from Latin:
‘e.g.’ is short for ‘exempli gratia’ which means ‘for example’; and
‘etc’ is short for ‘et cetera’ and means ‘and others’ or ‘and so forth’.
It is my opinion that French, of all Romance languages, is the hardest to learn because it is certain that many words have the last syllable or letters dropped off when you want to pronounce a word. Take these words that we use in English. Check with your English teacher to see how they are pronounced: ‘coup’,
‘boutique’ and ‘bouquet’.

Keep looking out for updates as I add more notes to this site.

Salut! (Bye for now!)

20 DECEMBER, 2011
A small group of people has just completed their level two French after six weeks of three-hour weekly classes. The lessons were organised by the Alliance Française de Port Moresby, as facilitated by Monsieur Antoine Lombard, who also teaches French to students at the University of Papua New Guinea.
The group comprised a house wife, a computer networking staff, a staff with a migration organisation and a journalist.
The group completed the course with an examination that comprised listening comprehension, reading comprehension and written comprehension exercises.
French is not really foreign as some may think. English has adopted a lot of French vocabulary as in terms like bon café, chauffeur, en masse, déjà vu, crème de la crème and chef de mission, to name a few.
Learning a different language enables one to look into the lives of a group of the people who speak that language and helps one learn about the culture and way of life.
To communicate with this people in their language brings one to identify oneself with them. A kind of knitting occurs between the learner and those who speak the language – something that those who do not know the language would not have.
Then there are concepts embedded in the language that a translation may not completely capture.
People learn another language for various reasons.
Some study it to learn about the people and their culture. Anthropologists and other social scientists may want to do that to understand the people who speak a language with the knowledge that some concepts will only be understand in its proper sense with the knowledge of the language that the people use.
Missionaries also learn languages to communicate to the people that they are called to minister to. Hudson Taylor, the English missionary had to learn Chinese on top of his medical science knowledge to become useful in China.
Some learn a language to use it as a tool to understand certain literature. Taylor Caldwell is the author of Dear and Glorious Physician, the book that tells the story of the life of the disciple Lucanus (or Luke), the Greek medical doctor who penned the history of the early Christian church. Some of the oldest documents on the church are written in Latin and she had to translate bits from these to be used in writing the book.
Others learn another language to challenge themselves. A journalist who learnt level one French early in the year said he attempted the subject as he attempted to study foundation mathematics years ago.
He said: “Everything does not become clear in the first few lessons; one must work consistently and perseveringly to master the basics.”
Yet others learn a language to possibly work or study in a country where people speak that language. Many professionals in the Third World work to master English to apply for residency status in Australia or America.
To the east of PNG, the French territories of New Caledonia, French Polynesia (including Tahiti) and Wallis and Futuna are strictly francophone (French-speaking).
The language of commerce, of instruction in schools and in daily life is French. Someone who does not know French would be lost should the chance come to visit countries or cities that are francophone.
Early this year a relative, who is in the sales business, accompanied a sports team to New Caledonia. He was armed with his business cards and tried to make business contacts with people there. He said he never got past saying Bonjour (Hellow/Good day) because the person he was attempting to communicate with could not speak English.
When the PNG sports representatives went to Noumea for the Pacific Games in September, the leader of the PNG mission and a journalist wrote that they wished they learnt French.
While doing laundry, the mother of a young man on a PNG team that brought home a gold medal found a note in his son’s trousers pocket that read something like: “Je t’aime. Claire.”
The mother was confused and asked a student with the Alliance Française for a translation. The translation provided was: “I love you. Clare.”
The student notified the mother that the words in the note do not necessarily imply that there was romance. They could be words offered by one to express great admiration for another as when fans of Céline Dion wave placards with the words when she performs live in Paris.
Incidentally, French happens to be the official language of Dion’s home province of Quebec in Canada. She was singing songs in French long before she learnt English and sung for the English-speaking population. (Probably some of her best songs are sung in French, not English.)
French also happens to be the language of Blaise Pascal, the mathematician and philosopher, Claude Debussy the musician, Louis Pasteur the chemist and microbiologist, Alexandre Dumas the writer of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo and Victor Hugo the creator of Les Miserables, among others.
The students with the Alliance Française will start classes early next year.
Anybody interested in learning French and accessing related resources can contact Monsieur Lombard on 326 1764, 326 7120 or by email: direction.afpom@gmail.com.
05 DECEMBER, 2011 (See that the date is now written differently. That is more French-like.)
Bonjour! Comment allez-vous?
Today my colleague (who is interested in Spanish but stops around to learn a few French words) had a chat with me ... and tried to use some of the words that she had learnt some time ago.
I emailed her later about something that is related to topics that I discussed here. Here is the message:

On Friday my sister (ma soeur) bought home an African DVD with over 50 movies (“True Love” types) - and all of them in French.
The mother (ma mère) told them that I would translate for them since the movies were in French.
Goodness me – surely I cannot and would not want to because such movies are too slow for me – I want racing cars and gun battles, or kind-of thriller types.
On Sunday morning, as I was preparing to come to work, there were the sisters and "tambu meri" (sister in-law) lying down on the floor watching one of those movies - completely engrossed in it.
As I passed by them I heard two ladies in the movies were discussing domestic issues and kept on saying “Ma cher, ma cher…”.
I told the sisters and tambu that “ma cher” was “ my dear” in English.
They just smiled and got back to their watching.
If they listened more to me when I am talking and trying to teach them a few words in French – hopefully they may follow the stories in the movies a bit better.
Learning a language opens up a window to another world that others who do not know that language would not have the privilege to look out to. That is the wonder of learning a language – and in this case, a foreign language.

Anyway, until next time, au revoir.
NOVEMBER 28, 2011
27 NOVEMBER, 2011
Comment-allez vous? (Hi! How are you doing?)
This is long over. I should have given this to you earlier.

First let me list the PERSONAL PRONOUNS in French.
I - je
You - tu
He/She - il/elle
We - nous
You (pl) - vous
They - ils/elles

The “s” in “nous” and “vous” are silent.
“Tu” is used in informal conversation with a person.
“Vous” as in you (pl) is also used when addressing somebody in a polite way.
e.g. Comment-allez vous? (formal)
Comment-vas tu? (informal)
#Check the next section for use or “allez” and “vas”.
The “s” in “vas” is silent.
In all languages there are some verbs that are most common.
Here are the common ones in French.
You have to learn all the conjugations of each verb depending on the subject.
e.g. Je vais à la ville. (I go to the town.)
Tu vas à la plage. (You go to the beach.)

#Aller (to go)
Je - vais
Tu - vas
Il/Elle - va
Nous - allon
Vous - allez
Ils/Elles - vont

#Avoir (to have)
Je - j’ai
Tu - as
Il/Elle - a
Nous - avons
Vous - avez
Ils/Elles - ont

#Être/être (to be as in “am/is/are”)
Je - suis
Tu - es
Il/Elle - est
Nous - somme
Vous - êtes
Ils/Elles - sont

#Aimer (to love/like)
Je - j’aime
Tu - tu aimes
Il/Elle - il aime
Nous - nous aimons
Vous - vous aimez
Ils/Elles - ils aiment

Until next time, au revoir mes amies!

J'aime la musique.
Parfois, je tiens à vous asseoir et jouer de la guitare.
Bonjour! Comment allez vous? (How is it going for you?)
I went to my French class on Saturday (yesterday), having missed out on the Saturday before because I had severe malaria and an inflammation.
Last weekend, after completing my dose of artesunate and fansidar, I realised that I had a swelling.
I texted my medico friend HM, the crocodile man, and he said I should get some antibiotics.
I got some amoxicillin and applied VICKS vapour rub to the swell each night after I had my shower.
After a few days I was back to normal.
Of course, I made sure I had enough good food (thanks to my step-mother and sisters) and drank a lot of Milo and Milk.
More than 10 years ago when I was very sick I was privileged to have a schoolmate as the trainee surgeon at Wewak General Hospital, in my hometown, and I got a lot of medical advice from him.
One of that was, if you take good care of your body your body will not have too many problems.
And to take good care of the body includes eating good food, getting enough sleep and keeping your body fit as in exercising.
Anyway, back to my French class.
As I was going to class, I felt this sharp pain from the inflammation shooting up into my stomach.
I could not stay for the whole class since I was very uncomfortable with the pain.
I excused myself and had to go home and get more antibiotics, more painkillers (Panadol tablets) and rest. Boy, the pain was so strong that I thought that something must have torn inside.
The fever that developed also had symptoms like those of malaria: very dry throat, desire to vomit and rising body temperature.
While at class, we learnt the use of the PRONOUN PERSONNEL TONIQUE.
As in the sentences:
Moi, j’aime la musique et les livre. (Me, I love music and the books.)
Ma soeur, elle, elle, aime le sport, le volleyball. (My sister, her, she loves sport, volleyball.)
Mon frère, lui, il aime le cinéma. (My brother, him, he loves the cinema.)

Until next time,
Au revoir!

NOVEMBER 09, 2011
Bonjour! Buenos Dias!
C'est moi. Thomas!
Cava vous?

Sorry for the long delay.
Yes, work does take us away from blogging.
I also just recovered from severe malaria and an inflammation.
Lucky for me I had a medico friend and I only needed to sms/text him to confirm the artesunate dose I put myself on - and later got some antibiotics for the swelling.
Boy, the pain was something.
Since Spanish is related to French let me share this with you.
It was originally sent to my Spanish-loving colleague who is oftentimes my French pupil.

Well here goes ... I am going over the life of the author described below.
I read her book Turi’s Papa in junior high school and think it is one of the best books that I have ever read.
It is about a boy who had to follow his father whom he never really knew - after the mother died.
He grew up with the mother’s people, The Gypsies, and had some very bad ways.
The Dad was a violinist and they had to trek the countryside to get to another town for the father to take up a violin teacher’s position.
The story details many of their adventures and possibly misadventures.
Because they were so poor they turned up in that town in rags.
The father did not have any papers to show he was the one who won the job and the only way he had to prove it was to play the violin in an audition. Yes, he got the job.
That is the gist of the story, as good as I can remember more than two/three decades ago.
Here is a bit about the author; she is a California native, a Standford graduate, loves the violin and loves Spanish.

From childhood, Elizabeth Borton de Treviño enjoyed the sound of the Spanish language. The California native's interest in Spanish led her to study the literature, language, and history of Spain at Stanford University. Knowledge of Spanish soon began opening doors for her, helping her win a job as a newspaper reporter and then giving her opportunities to travel. In her long writing career, de Treviño has produced many books for young people, including El Guero and Leona: A Love Story. In 1966 de Treviño received the Newbery Medal for I, Juan de Pareja.

Interesting, don’t you think? I think I have to put this info on my blog!
Adios, seniorita.

NOVEMBER 10, 2011
This is a picture of some people I met in August at Changhae Bio-Fuel Project Site past Kwikila in Rigo District of Central Province.
Pictured are PNG University Technology female students Crystal (left) and Susie with harvesting supervisor Thomas Ond showing some of the big tubers that the harvesting excavator unearthed on the Changhae plantation.
The students are doing a three-month practical programme on the cassave/tapioka plantation. They will, at the end of the programme, present a research paper to their lecturers when they return to campus.
I spent two nights on the site at the invitation of (my UPNG pal and now Changhae's environment officer) Mr Joseph (Joey) Pahau.
The place is quiet - very quiet indeed with fresh air and open spaces, around and above you.
Joey said it could be very lonely there. I said that depends on who you are - and what kind of things you pursue.
If you love the crowd, sure it could be lonely.
But if you want open spaces and a place to think and work on your creativity - I guarantee you, it is a sure haven.
The site is beside the ever-flowing, mighty Kemp Welsh River.
SEPTEMBER 18, 2011

Bonjour, tout le monde! (Hellow, everyone!)

My last three weeks has been quite interesting.
I got a DVD of Celine Dion and, once again, heard some of her French songs.

It is my opinion that if you are to learn French (or any other language for that matter) try to learn a song in that language and sing it as best as you can.

The group of people that I discuss French (language) with includes a young lady who works in the media.

She said Celine Dion won a producer over with a performance of a song in English...when she was still a non-English speaking citizen of Quebec, Canada.
The person said Celine must have sung it very well, from her heart to convince the producer to work with her on her first recording project.

This was part of her email:
I always remember one thing about her and that is how she got started in music and singing and that was: She sang in a contest or something, a song in English.
She had no idea what she was singing about because she couldn’t speak English. But the music was sad and being an artist, she enveloped that whole sound and made it seem as if she was singing from the heart. It touched the man who will later become her agent or manager or whatever he is called and that’s how she broke into the English-dominated music scene.

My reply to that email:
René Angélil is the name of the producer. He later became Celine's husband. He was 26 years her senior.
I think I told you people that she was already a star in the French-speaking world before she learnt English and then blew up the English-speaking world also.
Celine sang “Ne partez pas sans moi (Don’t go without me)” in 1988 Eurovision in Dublin.
By then Angélil had already known the talent that she had.
But then, these days, sometimes when she gets on stage she is a bit too “showy”.

Until next time, salut!

SEPTEMBER 06, 2011
Salut, tout le monde! (Hellow everyone!)
The Pacific Games are going into their second week.

Check out some of the observations that I made.
Those who went to Nouméa, Nouvelle-Calédonie, recently wished they learnt French. We noticed the Team PNG’s Chef de Mission stating in one of her first updates that she wished she had learnt French - before going to Nouméa.
Later, last week, a journalist with another paper said more-or-less the same thing.
It must be quite stressful for captains of teams from English-speaking nations trying to communicate with officials and umpires who are francophone.
Just to argue “why the call” with an umpire from New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna or Tahiti can be frustrating. It is something that our management must work on, that is, to help our people communicate with those who are francophone - in events such as the Pacific Games.

A young man returned from Noumea recently and had a note in his pocket. The mother found it and asked one of the relatives what the words “Je t’aime…Jule et Morris” meant.
The relative said the young man must have done very well in what he went to do to get notes like that from possible fans. The relative translated for the mother saying the words meant: “I love you … Jule and Morris”.
But then the relative explained that in French, even if you admire or are impressed with somebody, as when seeing Céline Dion performing live, you will just have to shout out: “Je t’aime.”
In the Pacific, these places are francophone (that is, French-speaking): New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia (Tahiti).
French is the language in education, commerce, work and everywhere else.
If you do not speak the language, you will certainly be lost if you were in any of those places.
In fact, they are territories of France still.
In Vanuatu, some schools teach French as an alternative Western language (to English). Before they became independent in 1980, New Hebrides (the name then) was governed by France as well as Britain, hence the result of having the two Western languages learnt in schools then, and now.

This picture shows "kunai" grass and trees looking North-east from a track through my village in East Sepik.

AUGUST 14, 2011
We, about six of us, completed our Level 1 French course with Alliance Française de Port Moresby on August 6.
For me it was very refreshing to be tested/examined by a written as well as a oral test.
I am looking forward to the second level of the course in October, when the next level will be offered (so the Director told us).
I enjoyed composing introductory notes in the language.
Try to figure out what the passage below means. (I may edit that later.)

C’est mon frère. Il s’appelle Marc et il a trente-et-un ans.
Marc est professuer.Il est grand mais est sympa.
Il aime le sport, le volleyball, la musique et les livres.
Marc a une femme, elle s’appelle Marie.
Marie est petite. Elle est professeur aussi.
Marc et Marie habite a Port Moresby en PNG.

(I am still having problems uploading pictures...)
June 28, 2011
In my update today, I include some basic French words, words I think you may have heard mentioned somewhere.

As with all new languages that you learn, it is good to know a few basic words, including greetings words.
Here are some of them in Anglaise (English) and Français (French).
Anglais (Français)
Hellow/Good day (Bonjour)
Good evening (Bonne soir)
Good night (Bonne nuit)
Yes (Oui)
No (No)
Good bye (Au revoir)
Okay/good (Çava)
You okay/fine? (Çava-vous?)
Thank you (Merci)
Thank you very much (Merci beaucoup)
Please (S'il vous plait)
Excuse me (Excusez-moi)
In English, please (En anglais s'il vous plait)
Do you speak French? (Parlez-vous Français?)
I do not speak French (Je ne parle pas Français)

Until next time, au revoir!
JULY 3, 2011
A media officer (from East Sepik) who works for a government department is learning French from Alliance Française de Port Moresby.
He told me this yesterday regarding the challenge he is taking to learn that foreign language.
He said he had an experience where, as a matriculation student, he flunked his Calculus (Maths) course in the 6-week summer semester (called Lahara in PNG).
However, when he signed on again for the same course in the same semester, he passed that.
He said he will bring the same mentality to learn French, quite a difficult language to learn.
“I found it hard in the first two lessons. My head was ‘blocked’.
“But slowly I am making my way through in my fourth week.
“I am determined to learn this language,” he said.

I agree with his statement.
I have stated a few years ago that learning higher level Maths as Calculus and Complex Analysis is like learning a foreign language.
The language of such Maths is not spoken on the street as subjects in Social Science are.
The language itself is unique (definitions and symbols used) and you have to work your way through the different topics in a course or subject to fully understand the course.
You have to have the patience to go one step at a time.
Many people think that you would be good at a subject if you can understand it very quickly – or in the very first lesson.
Well, some of the most important topics in Maths do not come that easy.
But then by patiently working on them for days and weeks, with a determined mind will get you to understand a fair bit of what is learnt in class.

And then you must put in extra time out of class to go over concepts learnt in class.
The French tutor told our class that we must spend about 20 minutes each day on going over concepts learnt in class, then we will be more confident in the use of the language.
You see, that is exactly the same thing that good Maths teachers tell students.
Mr Billy Kaleva, the long-serving senior tutor of Foundation Mathematics at The University of PNG tells his students that, apart from doing work given in class and tutorials, one has to go over Maths work for at least one hour every day to really be confident in what is taught in class.

I learnt that lesson a long time ago when my Grade 12 Maths teacher told my group. Mrs KMG, from Kerala, India, said if you want to do well in Maths, you must spend at least one hour every day on that subject.
That bit of information was the most important advice I was given in studying that challenging subject.
I was shocked when I first heard it, but then she was a senior teacher and a mother and knew what she was talking about.
Adhering to those words made a big difference in my life in choosing to study Physical Science and Mathematics at the tertiary level.

That same approach must be brought over to learning of a foreign language like French.
You must not give up because you do not understand anything in the first lesson. Be patient and go for the next class, and the one after that.
And be a good student and spend 30 minutes to one hour to go over what you learnt in class.
You will be amazed in a few weeks time how easy things can be if you learn the subject with the right type of mentality.

For now, au revoir!
JULY 12, 2011
The sounds of words in French are not pronounced the same as in English. Do take note to say the words correctly.
I give you some of these sounds in French words that we use in English.
“au” as in Australia (French words: au, beaucoup)
“oir” as in reservoir (French words: au revoir, bonne soir)
“en”, “on”, “an” are pronounced as “on” as in bonne (French words: bonne, en masse, France, danse)

The “r” sound is said very uniquely. It is said as if it is silent but at the top back part of your mouth.

BASIC FRENCH NOTES (Daily life - Education)    -    Author : Thomas - Papua New Guinea

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Last update : 2011-12-19

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