Helping Adam use French to influence

These past few months, I was challenged by INRAE Dijon, French public research institute dedicated to agricultural science, to provide a 30h Advanced French For Foreigners Course for Research Director Adam Vanbergen.

Of course, Adam was already fluent in French but he was determined to do even better for example in situations when several Researchers interact and you have to process different things at the same time in order to provide appropriate AND convincing answers.

More than 100 pages of content

All through our sessions, I made him discover how people* build their speech. Some of them are easy to understand because their ideas are clear and when they talk, it’s well prepared. Some of them give you a headache and you have to deal with that.

Everyone still wants to make his point and builds a conscious (or unconscious) strategy to do so!

*Researchers and well-informed public (or not!) in science

French grammar, linguistics, rhetoric, argumentation: I created more than 100 pages of content from real situations and I challenged Adam with missions to accomplish. Of course, in an action-oriented evaluation of the language, I wanted this course to be useful for him as a Researcher and Research Director. 💪

Read below Adam’s feedback about this course and check link if you also want to join

Adam, merci de témoigner pour cet article ! Voici les questions :
  • Êtes-vous satisfait de cette formation et a-t-elle répondu à vos objectifs de départ ?

Oui parce que je trouve que le programme est bien construit avec un mélange de grammaire, de compréhension orale, etc. J’ai apprécié l’interactivité grâce à l’utilisation de la vidéo qui stimulait les échanges et aussi que Samyra place le sujet dans le contexte de mon domaine de recherche. C’est plus facile à comprendre.

  • Qu’est-ce qui vous a été le plus utile dans cette formation ?

La grammaire (pronoms relatifs, etc.), les connecteurs logiques, etc. ont été des outils que je réutilisais après les séances dans mon travail.

  • Avez-vous constaté des changements pour votre travail ?

J’ai plus de confiance quand je parle avec mon équipe.

  • Est-ce que vous recommanderiez cette formation à un.e autre chercheur / chercheuse ?

Oui, cette formation a été construite de manière très précise pour les besoins individuels des chercheurs. Elle est très différente des formations dans d’autres instituts de langue.


“Use French to Influence”

30h course especially designed for Researchers (B2/C1 level)

Small towns around Dijon: the story behind “Thil” & “Tille”

Small towns around Dijon: the story behind “Thil” & “Tille”

If you come visit or move here, you will probably hear weird sounds to refer to some villages and small towns:

  • Thil pronounced “ti-le” like in “hostile”, “subtil”, “volatile”, etc.
  • Tille pronounced “ti-ye” like in “famille”, “gentille”, “myrtille”, “Camille”, etc.


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Thil (= linden tree)

Around Dijon, 5 cities are named with “Thil”: Aisy-sous-Thil, Marcigny-sous-Thil, Nan-sous-Thil, Précy-sous-Thil, Vic-sous-Thil.


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Toponymy is really interesting: the word “sous” means “under” so basically, it implies that these towns are under this “Thil” thing!

In the old days, “Thil” would refer to a linden tree so it is actually quite poetic

We can assume that lots of Linden trees of Sully still exist here (source)! Did you know that this tree was named after Sully, Secretary of King Henri IV (16th-17th)? Indeed, he wanted linden trees being planted everywhere in the villages, in front of the church or on main square.

A linden tree in Chaignay, 20km from Dijon, certified as a remarkable tree
(source: “Côte-d’Or : le tilleul de Chaignay a reçu le label d’arbre remarquableFrance 3 Bourgogne Franche-Comté – 03/09/2018)

There is also a famous local family with the name “Thil” starting with Miles de Thil, founder of the priory of Précy-sous-Thil in 1007. Nowadays, you still have many people out there named with “Thil” but with different assumptions about the origin (source: Geneanet.com).

Tille (= waterway)

River Tille (length: 82,7km) takes its source in the east of France and runs through 26 towns in Côte-d’Or: Salives, Barjon, Avot, Marey-sur-Tille, Villey-sur-Tille, Crécey-sur-Tille, Échevannes, Til-Châtel, Lux, Spoy, Beire-le-Chatel, Arceau, Arc-sur-Tille, Remilly-sur-Tille, Cessey-sur-Tille, Genlis, Pluvault, Champdôtre, Les Maillys.

Let’s notice that some are named with “Tille” and others not… Another mystery…

Anyway, 10 cities near Dijon are named after this river: Arc-sur-Tille, Bressey-sur-Tille, Cessey-sur-Tille, Crécey-sur-Tille, Is-sur-Tille, Magny-sur-Tille, Marcilly-sur-Tille, Marey-sur-Tille, Remilly-sur-Tille, Villey-sur-Tille.


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Let’s notice here the word “sur” — meaning “on” — implying that these places are located alongside the river. The word “tille” itself used to refer to a waterway in local language and after that, only one of the waterways kept the common noun which became a proper noun!

So now you know something that even French people living here don’t!

As a conclusion, we can’t help but notice that the word “tille” looks like the french word for linden tree: “tilleul”. There is no coincidence here: in old french, tille or theille refers to a rope made of linden tree bark (source: Centre national de ressources textuelles et lexicales).

We end up realizing that « Thil » and « Tille » have a very close meaning and both help us dream about the countryside not that far from Dijon…

Are there such stories behind names of cities in your country? Share with us below!

French Corner

Grab a coffee and let’s talk

The best way to practice spoken French is to s-p-e-a-k it so let’s meet for our 1st French Corner!

Some mistakes you might make:
a character = un personnage / un caractère = a personality
to be workoholic = être accroc au travail
to like someone as a friend = aimer bien quelqu’un / to love = aimer (être amoureux)

Useful expression: “On se connaît sans plus” meaning we know each other and talk but I don’t feel like we’re friends

Meet Albin to work on your listening skills!

Do you remember when we talked about Sylvie, Travelling Record Dealer in Dijon and around? Now this time, let’s listen to Albin, Virtual Tour Maker.

Don’t be afraid because native French people speak fast – like you in your mother tongue! -! You will find complete French subtitles in this video, even the contractions between words like “je suis” = “j’suis” or “replier = r’plier”.

Videos “Meet Them” help you focus on your listening skills in authentic spoken French and of course on your pronunciation so feel free to subscribe and share below your feedback. 🙂

Listen to 126 France’s regional accents

Listen to 126 France’s regional accents!

Researchers from CNRS* met people all over France and the result is an interactive listening map with typical french accents.

Check out here the pronunciation in Bourgogne!

Text: Esope’s fable (Fable d’Esope)
“La bise et le soleil se disputaient, chacun assurant qu’il était le plus fort, quand ils ont vu un voyageur qui s’avançait, enveloppé dans son manteau. Ils sont tombés d’accord que celui qui arriverait le premier à faire ôter son manteau au voyageur serait regardé comme le plus fort. Alors, la bise s’est mise à souffler de toute sa force mais plus elle soufflait, plus le voyageur serrait son manteau autour de lui et à la fin, la bise a renoncé à le lui faire ôter. Alors le soleil a commencé à briller et au bout d’un moment, le voyageur, réchauffé a ôté son manteau. Ainsi, la bise a du reconnaître que le soleil était le plus fort des deux. “

* National Center for Scientific Research

Click here to see the interactive map: https://atlas.limsi.fr/index-en.html

Meet Sylvie and work on your pronunciation

We want you to meet real people! Why? Because there is no typical French man or woman: everyone has a story to share and we want you to meet them and ask them questions about their life, their job, even their way to speak! You have a lot of accents and local expressions here so be open to discover them like an adventurer.

Let’s start with Sylvie, travelling record dealer all over Bourgogne and Franche-Comté! Her interview (see below) is subtitled in french and english so feel free to watch it, work on your pronunciation and why not be in touch with her!