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Want to improve your French language skills? One thing that always helps is reading les journaux (newspapers) in French. Yes, the language used in newspapers can be more difficult, but I find that it is easier to grasp the gist of un article (an article), too. If you know les titres (the headlines) in English, you can read some of the major French headlines and know a bit of what is going on already. Using your prior knowledge, you can guess some of the vocabulary words and, since these words are in context, you will more easily remember them.
Today, the major headlines in French newspapers (such as Le Parisien and Le Monde) revolve around the Greek debt crisis, as do most of the headlines in European newspapers.
The top of the Leparisien.fr page shows this headline: “EN DIRECT. Grèce : Hollande s’est entretenu avec le président grec Pavlopoulos.” One of the headlines on Lemonde.fr is the following: “En Grèce, trois scénarios après le non au référendum.” Can you guess the meaning of most of these words? Even with a more challenging verb, such as s’entretenir, you can guess that it probably means a talk or a meeting. And you would be right: s’entretenir means to converse, or to talk.
Here’s a more challenging headline, from Le Parisien, followed by a brief description (to see the whole article, click here):
“Grèce : à court d’euros, le gouvernement parle d’émettre une monnaie transitoire
Si la Banque centrale européenne venait à couper le robinet des liquidités, la Grèce pourrait bien être obligée de créer une monnaie transitoire calquée sur le modèle des IOU californiens. Un pari très risqué pour certains, une manière d’atténuer la casse sociale pour d’autres.”
After you read this short headline and paragraph, try to pick out the words you don’t know and guess their meaning based on context. If this is too short, check out the whole article, which is linked above. When you feel like you have a grasp on the meaning of this text, check out the vocabulary before.
When reading in a foreign language, don’t worry about understanding every single word. The most important thing is that you can guess the meaning of the text based on context. If you can do that, you can read longer texts and won’t be restricted by words that you don’t know!
à court de — to run short on, to have too little of
émettre — to issue, to state, or to express
transitoire — transitory
couper le robinet — literally, to cut off the faucet; to cut off, to disconnect
être obligé — to be obliged
calqué(e) — modeled
un pari — a bet
atténuer — to mitigate, to ease
la casse sociale — this refers to the social effects of a poor economy