10 Common Mistakes French Immersion Kids Keep Making.


No one says that French is easy. French Immersion is a great way to learn but some errors are tough to correct. The most common mistakes often stem from literal translation and seem to persist after several years in the program. You can help you child with the phrases below, your involvement will make a big difference.


  1. 1.    “J’ai allé”: ask any Early French Immersion teacher and they will likely tell you that they’ve heard this a thousand times. Literally, it means “I have gone” and is used to say “I went”. The correct phrase is “je SUIS allé” or “je suis allée” when the speaker is female.
  2. 2.    “Je suis fini(e)” is used to say “I’m done” so it’s used many times every day in the French Immersion classroom. “Je suis fini(e)” literally means “I am finished” and that’s also what it really means… Not quite “I’ve completed my task”. The correct phrase is “j’ai fini”.
  3. 3.    “Je suis faim/soif”: literally “I am hunger/thirst”. The correct phrase is “j’ai faim/soif”.
  4. 4.    “Je suis 5”: literally “I am 5” but the French structure would literally translate to “I have 5 years” so the correct phrase is “j’ai 5 ans”.
  5. 5.    “Je aime” (I like) is not a terrible mistake but in French, the “e” is replaced by an apostrophe in “je”, “le”, “me”, “te” and “se” when followed by a vowel or an “h” in some cases. That would make the correct phrase “j’aime”.
  6. 6.    “Ça regarde comme” is literally translated from “it looks like”. However, the correct phrase is “ça ressemble à”.
  7. 7.    “C’est chaud/froid” is literally translated from “it’s hot/cold”. However, in French we say “il fait chaud/froid”.
  8. 8.    “Quelle classe tu es dans?” is literally translated from “what class are you in?” The order of words in a sentence can be a real headache. While in English, the preposition is usually located at the end of the sentence, in French it is typically located at the beginning, just to make it more confusing. That would make the correct sentence become “Dans (in) quelle classe es-tu?”
  9. 9.    “What time is it?” this one generates various erroneous translations. The word “time” is either “temps” or “heure” as in “quelle heure est-il?” for “what time is it?” “Temps” is used when “time” refers to the duration of something, as in “a long time =  beaucoup de temps, or longtemps”.
  10. 10.  “Le” ou “la”. This one isn’t easily fixed. There are some general rules to know whether something is “un/le” or “une/la” but there are of course many exceptions. Practice makes perfect, or at least better.


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French expression involving body parts

I’ve always had a fascination for expressions and their origins. Tonight, I read “Madame Casse-Pieds” (Miss Busy-Body) to my girls.  I explained the meaning of the expression to them and it got me thinking that there are quite a few French expressions involving body parts.  In the context of French Immersion classes, a student will hear many expressions from various parts of the francophone world. The expression below are used in France, I will likely add others later as I talk with my francophone friends. So here’s a sample, in no particular order:

– Feet:

Casse-pieds (of course!): literally “break foot”, means annoying, irritating. It can be used as a noun: il est casse- pieds

Avoir les deux pieds dans le même sabot: literally “to have both feet in the same clog”, means being quite passive, not being able to figure things out without help.

– Nose:

Avoir le nez creux: literally “to have a hollow nose”, means to have good instinct and intuition, mostly in guessing or sensing things.

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