Joindre l’utile à l’agréable

imageToday’s expression is “joindre l’utile à l’agréable” (swandruh looteel ah lag-ray-ab-luh). It means “to join the useful to the agreeable.” Lately, I’ve found a way combine the business of learning French with a little fun with Duolingo. This free language learning website is available on their website or an App. After a placement test, you set a goal of how many points you want to earn each day. After that, you can select specific grammar points to work on or choose “Strengthen Weak Skills.” The exercises require you to work on all four major skills – reading, writing, listening comprehension and speaking. Some of the sentences are a little silly, (“I have the plans for the prison.” And sometimes a correct answer is marked as incorrect because there is more than one correct way to say the same thing. Overall, however, it’s a pretty good tool. Each evening, I get a message from my “Coach,” a little green owl wearing a tracksuit brandishing a whistle, telling me that It’s time to get working. As a result, I haven’t missed a day since I started using Duolingo. I’m enough of a fan to have assigned Duolingo as extra credit for my students over the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. It may take more than a reminder from Coach to keep them working at it once there is no extra credit to be had, but who knows? They may also decide to “joindre l’utile à l’agréable.”

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About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
This entry was posted in French Vocabulary, Idioms and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Joindre l’utile à l’agréable

    • And my students earned lots of extra credit using it, so they must have liked it also. It’s a goodie.

      • Hmm…I should try it with the students I tutor and mention it to my husband. [He teaches high school Spanish.]

        BTW, what levels of French do you teach? How “high up” does DuoLingo go?

      • I’ve taught everything from beginners to AP (an Advanced Placement class in American high schools). This year, I have French I, II, and III. Duolingo goes up to a fairly advanced level. If you do it on-line, rather than with the app, there are also articles from the news that you can work on.

      • Interesting…I typically use the ap [typically to kill time on the stairmaster] and not the online version.

        I’ll have to mention it to my husband! Thanks for the tip! I can get my French past ordering a meal and reading the backs of shampoo bottles!

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