The English progressive is difficult

Mxsmanic   Saturday, October 02, 2004, 13:35 GMT
The "en train de" construction in French is virtually identical to the progressive tenses in English, except that it is much stronger and much less frequently used in consequence. One really must be thinking of an action as a process in the strongest of ways to use this expression in French, whereas a much weaker perception of the same kind in English is sufficient to justify the progressive tenses.
Adam   Saturday, October 02, 2004, 17:20 GMT
Easterner Saturday, October 02, 2004, 12:09 GMT
For some actions, you can also use the "en train de'" construction in French, e.g.: "Je suis en train de parler avec mon amie" ("I'm just talking to my girlfriend"). In Italian you can use "stare" with present participle: "Sto a parlare" = "I'm speaking". In Spanish, this will be "estoy hablando". So the progressive is not unique to English.
The example in french is NOT progressive. It is just translated into the progressive in the English language.

And the literal translation of the Italian "Sto a parlare" is "I to speak." Italian is using the infinitive, whereas when it is translated into English it is translated into the progressive.
Le loup et l'agneau   Saturday, October 02, 2004, 18:23 GMT
Pas progressif, la structure en "en train de" ? J'ai bien peur que tu ne saches pas de quoi tu parles, cher Adam. Cette structure est celle qui transmet avec le plus de force l'idée d'un processus. Mais peut être que ça ne te convient tout simplement pas qu'il n'y ait pas d'exact équivalent du gérondif anglais en français, qui sait... :-)
Steve K   Saturday, October 02, 2004, 20:21 GMT
Je suis en train de rentrer chez moi = I am on my way home

Je suis en train de parler avec mon ami = I am talking to my friend

Je suis en train de regarder la tele = I am in the middle of watching TV

Je rentre chez moi = I am going home

Everything is context. I do not give a hoot for what can be called progressive or not. Nor should the learner be conditioned to think in those terms. Learn the phrases in context. Treat each language as a system of its own to be learned in its own context.
Mxsmanic   Saturday, October 02, 2004, 22:00 GMT
Exactly. Students who spend a lot of time analyzing English are just as unable to speak it after twenty years of study as they were when they started. Students who spend their time reading, writing, speaking, and listening to English become fluent quite quickly.
Steve K   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 15:44 GMT
Mxsmanic I tried to send the following to your email address but failed. So I am putting it here.

On 90% of issues we could run a language institute together. My impression of you and your opinionated posts is as follows.

You have a far deeper understanding of the language, correct usage, pronunciation etc. than I do. You are an experienced teacher. But you do not impose this on the learner. I suspect you challenge your learners. Some respond and some do not. You recognize the limits of traditional teaching. I am sure that you are able to provide just the amount of stimulus,guidance,feedback and explanation that is needed.

I would still like to know your reaction to our system. Could you not see our basic membership package being a part of the curriculum for an independent teacher or school? The teacher can use our admin section to manage quite a large number students, especially those who cannot come to class more than once or twice per week. The writing correction, tutorials, speaking etc, could be administered inside or outside our admin systgem but would be for the account of the teacher.

Anyway, I would appreciate your comments.In fact,l I have the feeling it would be great to work with you and get your input on content and methodology in some way, as well as on how to develop the French market.


Steve K
Mxsmanic   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 20:52 GMT
Thanks for the compliments. What e-mail address did you use? (Given that I don't provide an e-mail address here.)

Right now I'm struggling to pay the rent (ESL teaching pays very, very poorly in Western Europe, even when compared to other types of teaching), and I'm not really in a state of mind to pursue commercial ventures of any kind. Sorry.
Steve K   Monday, October 04, 2004, 01:49 GMT

I found an email address by searching Google for your name. You obviously do not want your email address on here. If you do not mind please go to our site and click on "contact us". Look forward to hearing from you.