Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Notes

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Lesson Transcript

Michael: How does formal French work?
Aurore: And when is it used?
Michael: At FrenchPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following scenario: Théodore Toussaint, a high-school student, meets the mother of his neighbor friend, Karen Lee. He says,
"Hello Mrs. Lee, how are you?"
Théodore Toussaint: Bonjour Madame Lee, comment allez-vous ?
Dialogue
Théodore Toussaint: Bonjour Madame Lee, comment allez-vous ?
Karen Lee: Je vais bien, merci. Et toi, comment vas-tu ?
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Théodore Toussaint: Bonjour Madame Lee, comment allez-vous ?
Michael: "Hello Mrs. Lee, how are you?"
Karen Lee: Je vais bien, merci. Et toi, comment vas-tu ?
Michael: "Fine, thanks. And you, how are you?"

Lesson focus

Michael: You've probably noticed how Theodore used the word
Aurore: vous
Michael: when addressing Mrs. Lee, and how Mrs. Lee used the word
Aurore: tu
Michael: when addressing Theodore. Well, that's because even though the two words mean "you" in English, French has two ways of saying this, the formal
Aurore: vous
Michael: and the informal
Aurore: tu
Michael: that you'll use and switch between depending on context. In this case, Theodore used formal French as a way of showing politeness toward an older person or someone of higher social standing, in this instance, the mom of his friend. Mrs. Lee, on the other hand, uses the informal "you" because Theodore is a child.
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let's take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Theodore Toussaint says, "Hello Mrs. Lee, how are you?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Aurore as Théodore Toussaint: Bonjour Madame Lee, comment allez-vous ?
Michael: Here, Theodore, who is the younger of the two, used the word
Aurore: vous
Michael: because it is considered more formal and should be used when addressing someone much older than you. It is also used in formal contexts, in shops, or when going to the doctor, for example.
[Recall 2]
Michael: Now, let's take a look at our second sentence.
Do you remember how Karen Lee says "Fine, thanks. And you, how are you?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Aurore as Karen Lee: Je vais bien, merci. Et toi, comment vas-tu ?
Michael: Here, Karen Lee used the word
Aurore: tu.
Michael: It also means "you," and is used when an adult addresses a much younger person, particularly one who's under 18 years of age. Of course, the informal "you" is also used between friends or family members and in informal contexts as well, regardless of age.
[Summary]
Michael: Let's summarize what we've learned so far. In French, the informal way to say "you," is
Aurore: tu
Michael: It's often used by adults to address someone much younger, or is used between friends and in informal contexts. Meanwhile, the formal way to say "you" in French is
Aurore: vous
Michael: This is formal French and is often used when addressing someone older than you or in formal contexts—for example, at work, in shops, etc.. In most cases, it's always safe to use this when meeting someone for the first time. They can then tell you afterward if they prefer to be addressed informally or with the use of
Aurore: tu
Expansion/Contrast
Michael: Let's review. Respond to the prompts by speaking aloud. Then, repeat after the native speaker focusing on pronunciation.
Do you remember how Theodore says "Hello Mrs. Lee, how are you?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Aurore as Théodore Toussaint: Bonjour Madame Lee, comment allez-vous ?
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Aurore as Théodore Toussaint: Bonjour Madame Lee, comment allez-vous ?
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Aurore as Théodore Toussaint: Bonjour Madame Lee, comment allez-vous ?
Michael: And do you remember how Karen Lee says "Fine, thanks. And you, how are you?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Aurore as Karen Lee: Je vais bien, merci. Et toi, comment vas-tu ?
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Aurore as Karen Lee: Je vais bien, merci. Et toi, comment vas-tu ?
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Aurore as Karen Lee: Je vais bien, merci. Et toi, comment vas-tu ?
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: It's a common misconception that
Aurore: tu
Michael: should be used when talking to children or close friends and relatives, and that
Aurore: vous
Michael: should be used when talking to adults or strangers. However, it's actually a bit more complex than that. Some French speaking areas use the informal "you" rather intensively, like Québec. There, it is not uncommon for people to use
Aurore: tu
Michael: when they address each other, even when talking to an employee in a shop for example. But, in France, it's much more complex. You see, there are situations when two adults meeting for the very first time would use the informal "you," and there are cases when an adult would use the formal
Aurore: vous
Michael: in addressing a child or younger person. The rule is to use
Aurore: tu
Michael: when addressing a single person, as well as when addressing a person of a similar social situation, or
Aurore: Situation sociale
Michael: This means using it when you're speaking with a person of a similar age, job status, and role in the context where you're having the conversation. While age plays a crucial role in which of the two words to use, it is not always the guiding factor. For instance, while it's common for a pupil to use
Aurore: vous
Michael: when addressing a teacher, there are instances when the teacher would use the same to address pupils 13 and above within a class setting. The same is used among people doing business for the first time. Once a close business relationship is formed, that's the time that either party could start addressing each other using
Aurore: tu.

Outro

Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Aurore: À bientôt !
Michael: See you soon!

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