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French Level 1
    Unit 2: Leçon 1
    Greetings 2
    When Victoire and Luc meet Victoire's friends, Gille and Marie-Catherine, the first thing they do is greet each other. Next Gille and Marie-Catherine ask Victoire and Luc a question.

    Let's take a look at these parts of the first two conversations. We'll begin with the part where Gille asks:

    Track 14
    3. Pas mal, merci!
    2. Oui, ça va.

    5. À bientôt!.
    1. Ça va?

    4. Au revoir.

    Notice the question that Gille asks Victoire and Luc, "Ça va"? The English equivalent to this phrase would be "How's it going?" The literal translation is "That goes (well)?" Either way, Gille is interested in knowing the state of "well-being" of his friends.

    How do they reply? Victoire answers with the word, "Oui (yes)". She finishes her answer with the exact same phrase that Gille used when asking her how she was doing! The English equivalent of the phrase as used by Victoire would be "Yes, I'm fine". Even though the question "ça va" and the answer "ça va" look the same they are not spoken in the same way. The sound of the sentence changes as it transcends from being a question to becoming an answer. Listen again to this section of the dialog and you'll hear what I mean:

    Track 14
    3. Pas mal, merci!
    2. Oui, ça va.

    5. À bientôt!.
    1. Ça va?

    4. Au revoir.

    Now, let's take a close look at Luc's reply. His answer is "Pas mal". The literal English equivalent of this phrase means "Not bad". (At this point either Luc or Victoire would more than likely ask Gille "ça va" since that would be the most polite thing to do and Gille would answer, however, in the interest of time, we skipped this part!)

    Let's take a look at another way to ask how someone is doing:

    Track 15
    3. Comme ci, comme ça
    2. Bien!

    5. À la prochaîne.
    1. Comment vas-tu?

    4. Au revoir.

    Notice that Marie-Catherine greets her friend Victoire with the question "Comment vas-tu?". The English translation for this phrase would be "how's it going?" (how going you?) What are the replies to this question? Victoire answers first by simply saying "Bien." or "Well". Though he was not asked, Luc answers anyway and gives a bit longer response which is "Comme ci, comme ça" or "So, so" (The direct translation for this phrase would be "like this, like that").

    How do we know that Marie-Catherine did not ask Luc how he was doing? By the way that she phrased her question. The question form used by Marie-Catherine is actually a singular form (using the word, "tu" denotes only one person). If she had wished to address both Victoire and Luc she would have used the formal form, "Comment allez-vous?" The same one used by Victoire when she addresses Madame Bordeaux.

    And speaking of Madame Bordeaux, let's take a look at the two students' interaction with their teacher. This interaction on the whole is MUCH more formal since the two young people are conversing with an adult (especially in this case when addressing a teacher). Let's listen again to this segment:

    Track 16
    1. Comment allez-vous, Mme.
    2. Je vais bien, merci.
    2. Je très vais bien, Madame. Merci.

    6. Au revoir!

    5. Au revoir, Mme.
    1. Et vous?

    4. Au revoir!

    Victoire opens the dialog with the question "Comment allez-vous, Mme.?" Which is the formal and respectful way to say "How are you doing (literally "going"), M'am?" To which Madame Bordeaux replies with the extremely polite "Je vais bien, merci" or "I am doing ("going") fine, thank you".

    In the second box, Madame Bordeaux displays excellent manners by asking her student "Et vous?" meaning "And you?" en anglais (in English). Victoire politely replies "Je vais très bien, Madame. Merci" or "I am doing ("going") very well, M'am. Thank you".

    Below are all of the terms that we have studied so far in this leçon including some new terms that are commonly used to indicate "well-being" that were not presented as a part of the Preview dialog:

    Familiar Forms
    Track 17
    La Santé (health)  
    (in French)
    (in English)
    Comment vas-tu? How's it going?
    Comment ça va? How's it going?
    Ça va? How's it going?
    Ça va. fine.
    bien. well
    très bien very well
    comme ci, comme ça so, so
    pas mal not bad
    mal bad or poorly
    très mal very bad

    Formal Forms
    Track 18
    La Santé (health) SOUND BYTE GOES HERE
    (in French)
    (in English)
    Comment allez-vous? How are you doing?
    Je vais + bien, mal, etc., merci. I am + fine, poorly, etc., thank you.
    Et vous? And you?

    One thing that you should know that is a cultural BIG difference between French-speaking peoples and English-speaking Americans: In the United States, part of greeting someone is to ask a question such as "How's it going?". This usually follows "hi, hello, morning" or whatever. The English speaker really doesn't care how the other person is actually "doing", it's just a part of greeting another person. Not so "en français"! (in French!) If you ask someone how he or she is "doing" you had better be sincere about hearing the response to your question. You should be paying close attention to the answer AND be prepared to respond appropriately to that answer or you will be considered to be a VERY rude person! I will warn you again: If you really don't care how the other person is doing, DON'T ASK! I can almost guarantee you that if the other person is not doing well, you will be the recipient of an answer that may be VERY LOOOOOONG and involved!

    Time now for our next leçon!

Introduction / Dialog / Leçon 1 / Leçon 2 /