Peu de nous ont la force de changer (Few of us have the courage to change)Unknown
Let’s be honest. My french isn’t perfect. I love speaking it, but I have very little opportunity to do so at home. I’ve been taking classes since the 8th grade (2002-ish) and I’m still not fluent, BUT I can have a pretty awesome conversation and be super confident in my abilities to navigate the country both figuratively and literally.
Practice At Every Chance
You lose every foreign language that you do not use. Even if you’re in your car or at home alone, start thinking in another language. Start thinking of how to phrase things you normally say. Use an app. Stick post it notes with vocab words around the house. It’s cliché, but the saying is true. The more you practice, the better you’ll be.
The French Are NOT Rude
Every single time I’ve talked about France, someone has mentioned how rude the french people are even if they have never met anyone from the country. I hate to break it to the world, but….there are a$$holes in every country. France is not an exception. I’ve met more rude Americans than I’ve French.
Let that rudeness slide on by, remain polite, and move on. Chances are you never have to interact with that person again. Some people are just naturally grumpy and that isn’t your fault. Always treat people with as much kindness as you can muster, even if you are secretly wishing you could yell. If in doubt, take the high road.
Always Make an Effort
Making an effort shows you have respect not only for the person you’re talking to, but also for their culture, country, and the language itself. Your french (or any other language) does NOT have to be perfect. You just have to try. Believe me, it makes a world of difference.
If someone came to your country and expected you to automatically know whatever foreign language they spoke, you might think they were a little insane and arrogant. Americans are so unabashedly guilty of this that it blows my mind. Take the extra effort to learn a few phrases, even if it is as simple as “thank you”, “please”, “excuse me”, “where is”, or “I’m lost”.
If you do this, you will see people open up and automatically become warmer people. If you put in the effort to attempt their language, they will put in the effort to help you with whatever it is you are needing.
They were forbidden in school, but they are welcomed during travel. At the top and bottom of the page I attached an info graphic that I made for anyone who needs it. Print it out and use it as your personal cheat sheet for some common situations and phrases that have always helped me whenever I travel to France.
Feel free to reach out if you need help with any other common phrases. I’m happy to pass on my (limited) knowledge of the language! Expect a Spanish cheat sheet in the coming months too!