Even though John had been to France a few times over the last couple of years. It was year’s since i had been. So when I knew it was to be the first country we would visit, I thought I ought to do something about my language skills. And let’s be honest we have all probably dreamt of speaking a foreign language. I wasn’t expecting to have a full blown conversation, just a sentence or two.
So I found a free basic course online, which at first covered what I had learnt at school; greetings, days of the week and numbers before progressing on to asking questions; What time is it? Where can I buy a ticket?
So over several weeks when I had time or remembered I tried to learn a new word or phrase. If I’m honest I found it easier to read than to speak but thought, I’ll be fine, it can’t be that difficult, it will be easier once we are there.
How wrong was I,
Learning French as a language is one thing. Learning real life French is another.
I now realise that having a vocab of words and phrases is fine if you get them in the right context or you use the right gender for the chosen word. As in any language, French words can have a number of meanings that can lead to some funny, or possibly strange sentences. Many French words also look like English words but have a different meaning altogether, so don’t assume like I did! And if you want to sound like a human as opposed to a text book you need good pronunciation.
So I’m not sure if i will ever feel at home with this language let alone become fluent. Armed with a phrase book, a translator and out of respect for being in another country we try at every possibility to use what we have learnt. I know we make mistakes. Lots of people have been very helpful and encouraged us, others I’m sure just like to see us struggle. The minute we start to speak theres this look that passes over their faces. Each time this happens, for a brief moment, i wonder, do they understand me? So, if you here someone say;
“Parler comme une vache espagnole” they are saying “your lauguage skills are like a Spanish cow”!
So I thought i would share some of what I’ve learnt in case it helps someone else and Viola , you to could be muddling you way to getting understood like I am.
BASICS TO LEARN
Try to under stand the culture
Watch the news, read a newspapers or films with French subtitles
Understand the masculine and feminine gender associated to all nouns ( words which denote a thing, person or idea)
Try to pronounce words correctly.
Have a few sentences you know and understand, you can then at least get yourself understood.
BASIC WORDS – Termes de Base
Boujour – Hello Good morning or afternoon
Aurevoir – Bye
Bonsoir – Good evening
Merci – Thank you
Je vous en prie – Your welcome
Gratuit – Free
Ouvert/Ferme – Open/closed
Sorte – Exit
S’il vous plait – Please
Non – no
Oui – yes
Au secours – Help!
Pardon – Sorry
L’addition – The bill
Au feu – Fire
SENTENCES – PHRASES
Je cherche – I’m looking for
Je ne sais pas – I don’t know
Parlez vous anglais – Do you speak English
Pourriez vous parler plus lentement, s’il vous pout? – Could you speak more slowly, please?
J’ai ete Mordu / pique par – I’ve been bitten/stung
C’est par ou…..? – Which way is it to …..?
Plat du jour – Menu of the day
Pouvez -vous repeter s il vous plait? – Could you repeat that please?
Je ne comprends pas – I don’t understand
Balance – Scales
Eau – Water
Beurre sale – Salted butter
Lait – Milk
Sucre – Sugar
Pain – Bread
Tradition – it’s what the locals eat
Cafe Creme – Coffee with Milk
Bierre – Beer
Cereales – Cereals
Oeuf – Eggs
Jus d Orange – Orange Juice
Confiture – Jam
Salad de fruits – Fruit cake