Wednesday, July 1, 2009

For whom is Bien-dire written?

I received a thoughtful but mildly alarming email from a Bien-dire subscriber last night, which she had sent in response to a renewal offer sent out yesterday. While she was interested in renewing her subscription, she was concerned that Bien-dire was being changed into a publication aimed primarily at beginners. As I look back over the newsletter and my blog post from last week, I immediately saw how that assumption could be made.

However, let me assure you that the focus of the magazine has not changed at all - the majority of the content is and will remain at the level of the intermediate to advanced French speaker. All of our issues have contained a few features that have been classified at the "1+" level, and we will continue to pepper the magazine with these pieces. Our goal is to help to enhance the skills of the intermediate to advanced speaker, to introduce them to nuances of the language and elements of the culture that are unlikely to be found in the classroom, but we should also include a few features that can be accessible to the motivated new learner.

That's me - the motivated new learner - and when I receive a new issue of Bien-dire (issue No. 65 just arrived!) I will readily admit that my appreciation for the majority of the content doesn't go beyond picking out a word here and there that I recognize and looking at the pretty pictures for context. The new issue has a short feature on common terms used at a shopping center, in which I learned that when I buy my next pair of pants in France I should ask for une cabine d'essayage. But the article on Marseille's preparations for 2013, when it will take center stage as the capitale europeenne de la culture was far beyond my comprehension, as was the serialized novel, the quiz, and the content on roughly 50 of the magazine's 52 pages.

So fear not, dear intermediate and advanced readers, Bien-dire is still a magazine that is written for you, and remains the only magazine written and created in France for learners of French. I strive to join you in your enjoyment of the entire magazine one day, but there is a long long way to go.

Speaking of my strivings, I am sad to say that I will need to miss my French class next week while my wife and I go on a short vacation. However, after 12 hours of driving from Philadelphia to Lake Michigan and 12 hours back, I believe Bien-dire Social Conversations and The Good Pronunciation Guide will have helped us to make Marie-Laure (our instructor) proud. If we listen to them as often as we plan, the dog may even start barking in French. Ouah-ouah.

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