France & getting by with limited french

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willem jongman
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby willem jongman » 28 Aug 2018, 8:14am

I prefer to speak the local language wherever I can. I am just back from a tour in Germany and I did not speak a word of English. People did not even try to practice their English on me. France is a little bit different, however. These days there are quite a few (younger) people speaking English, and they want to know and practice. So give them a chance if you don't feel like practicing your French. Even so, I have the distinct impression that more young people speak better English in Italy than in France, but that may only be because my French is so much better than my Italian.
The lesson is, of course, that language teaching in schools should be taken much more seriously. I had English, French and German in school for six years (which was the norm in Holland in those days, though sadly no longer), and even though it was a bit bookish, it was enough to set me up for learning it in practice when I moved to England for a couple of years. Similarly, I have recently worked in both Germany and France for longish periods, and the basis was already there. However, in both cases I also took lessions for half a year or more to brush up before I went. When the grammar and the vocabulary are there, fluency will come quickly. Expecting to pick up a language without study is an illusion.

robing
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby robing » 28 Aug 2018, 8:27am

Agree with above - learning a language needs lots of practice. However, there are short cuts with grammar which can save you a lot of trouble. eg in French and other languages instead of learning the future tense, just say I am going to (Je vais + infinitive) - easy! Also I generally learn just one form of the past tense - the perfect is the easiest to learn. (J'ai + past particple, though some verbs taken etre). Another tip in French - often only the we and you plural/formal person changes the sound in a verb.
eg manger - to eat.
Je mange, tu manges, il/elle mange, ils/elles mangent - all pronounced the same
only nous mangeons and vous mangez are pronounced differently.

Vorpal
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby Vorpal » 28 Aug 2018, 9:34am

brynpoeth wrote:One gets much more from the holiday if one tries to learn the language, buy a newspaper or childrens comic and try learning to read, it is not difficult

I don't find comic books very helpful, as they contain lots of slang, shortened words, and noise sounds, but not much that is useful for shopping or finding a toilet.

Phrase books and apps, Duolingo, and newspapers are much more useful.
ossie wrote:I do however feel guilty as I can imagine someone rocking up in deepest darkest Dorset or Yorkshire asking a local if they speak French...its no different.


I have more than once helped in a shop or shopping centre when a translator was needed. In one case it was someone wanting some English grammar books she'd been told to get by a teacher. The shop attendant wanted to tell them that the particular edition was no longer published, but she could order a new edition. From a dictionary / google translate, she could only relay the information that the book wasn't 'made' anymore, but she could order it, which was confusing for the learner. They spoke some English, but not enough for understanding the distinction between one edition of a book and another. I think that was a bookshop in Colchester. I also ended up acting as a translator in a rural farm shop in Suffolk once!

edited to add: I agree with Willem. People who learn languages growing up have a much easier time of it as adults, and it's much easier to adapt to new languages, especially if they have some similarity to known languages, but study / work is required
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meic
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby meic » 28 Aug 2018, 9:43am

Expecting to pick up a language without study is an illusion.

An illusion which billions of people turn to reality all over the world, I was able to speak English before I went to school. My son passed his German GCSE just through having a German mother, with no German lessons. I expect that my daughter will do the same.
In my experience learning through immersion and exposure is far quicker and more effective than formal study.
Yma o Hyd

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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby Vorpal » 28 Aug 2018, 9:47am

meic wrote:
Expecting to pick up a language without study is an illusion.

An illusion which billions of people turn to reality all over the world, I was able to speak English before I went to school. My son passed his German GCSE just through having a German mother, with no German lessons. I expect that my daughter will do the same.
In my experience learning through immersion and exposure is far quicker and more effective than formal study.

There is a difference between a mother tongue, or native language and 'picking up' a language in adulthood. But yes, immersion is a far better teacher than study.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
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brynpoeth
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby brynpoeth » 28 Aug 2018, 9:48am

meic wrote:
Expecting to pick up a language without study is an illusion.

An illusion which billions of people turn to reality all over the world, I was able to speak English before I went to school. My son passed his German GCSE just through having a German mother, with no German lessons. I expect that my daughter will do the same.
In my experience learning through immersion and exposure is far quicker and more effective than formal study.

Did you learn Welsh first? Are both perfect? :wink:
Cycling? Of course, but it is far better on a Gillott.. Alternative facts welcome

willem jongman
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby willem jongman » 28 Aug 2018, 9:54am

Children do indeed learn languages differently from adults. It took my young kids only a few months in England to become native speakers. Already then, however, you could see the differences between the learning process with the four year old and the six year old. In fact, adults trying to pick up a language without formal training are a real problem as they will have taught themselves too many mistakes. Unlearning those is almost impossible.

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meic
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby meic » 28 Aug 2018, 10:06am

Yes an immersed young child and a formally tutored adult can result in speaking like a native speaker (or better than), however as travelers we dont need or expect that level. Something to be said for keeping our quirky foreign versions of the "visitor's tongue".

I should point out that the Netherlands has an excellent linguistic record and the UK has a pretty poor one. The French and German imparted to me in school works fine on other native english speaking people using them as a second language, gets by OK with third language speakers (Polish, Italians etc) and falls pretty flat on native speakers.
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Cunobelin
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby Cunobelin » 28 Aug 2018, 10:26am

thirdcrank wrote:
ossie wrote: ... I do however feel guilty as I can imagine someone rocking up in deepest darkest Dorset or Yorkshire asking a local if they speak French...its no different.


You'd be surprised where you might meet French speakers.



French, German, Spanish have a far higher literacy in English, than we do in their languages.

thirdcrank
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby thirdcrank » 28 Aug 2018, 10:33am

I wonder if this is going off at a bit of a tangent on ways of learning a foreign language. Apart from anything else, a bit of cycle touring isn't going to expose somebody to enough local speakers over a sufficient time to learn much. However, I don't think there's much doubt that the quickest and most intensive way to learn to speak a foreign language is in the language lab - hearing and repeating the spoken word and phrase, and then listening to a recording of your own efforts. Doing it that way, of course, without anything else you would be unable to read or write it.

I think the best advice to the OP is to show willing. No shouting louder or attempting baby talk. I've no recent experience, but I quickly found that the worst thing in France was being mistaken for a German. Times have probably changed.
=============================================================================
Our problem is that because of the influence of the US, English is widely spoken so we can often depend on others speaking our lingo. That's not what I was commenting on (from darkest Yorkshire.)

willem jongman
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby willem jongman » 28 Aug 2018, 10:37am

Sadly for modern Germans that prejudice is still common. I know, because my slight Dutch accent in languages other than English often gets mistaken for a German one.

simonhill
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby simonhill » 28 Aug 2018, 10:45am

According to a (debatable) recent survey, France ranks 32nd in the proficiency of English, 1 place above Italy and 2 above Vietnam. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EF_Englis ... ency_Index

Without wishing to be classist, elitist, etc, I found that a lot of the French people I dealt with (shop, hotel, pedestrian, etc) on a recent trip didn't or wouldn't speak English. Maybe this was slightly skewed as I do speak a bit, but it was rarely offered even when I was struggling. In complete contrast, the woman on the till in Lidel's in Belgium (12th) was counting out my spare Euro cents in English faster than I could recognise the coins.

The thing to remember about English is that it is the world's second language. In almost every country it is the second language and the one that people use to communicate with foreigners. For example virtually every airport will have the signs in local and English. Likewise I remember listening as a Chinese used English to communicate with a Korean.

It is very popular to condemn the Brits for not learning another language, but which one should we learn. Already this year I have been in at least 5 different languages, all of which had English as their second language. Being able to speak (my native) English in a clear and easily understandable way is far more useful than 6 words of Vietnamese or a thank-you in Chinese (both of which I can do by the way).

willem jongman
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby willem jongman » 28 Aug 2018, 11:24am

I would certainly suggest German, as Germany is your biggest trading partner, and the EU's economic powerhouse. French would be my choice for second foreign language. Your advantage compared to us is that you did not have to learn English as a foreign language so you can master English, French and German by only learning two. :D

robing
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby robing » 28 Aug 2018, 11:58am

Spanish is your best choice for a second language.

The more languages you speak, the easier it becomes to learn another, especially if similar root like Latin languages. I only learnt German at school but can also speak French and Spanish well now. I am finding Italian a little harder as it is a bit too close to Spanish. I'd like to learn a completely different language like Welsh or gaelic for instance.

brynpoeth
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Re: France & getting by with limited french

Postby brynpoeth » 28 Aug 2018, 12:26pm

willem jongman wrote:I would certainly suggest German, as Germany is your biggest trading partner, and the EU's economic powerhouse. French would be my choice for second foreign language. Your advantage compared to us is that you did not have to learn English as a foreign language so you can master English, French and German by only learning two. :D

Dutch is an interesting language too
Worked at a firm where we sent stuff to Rotterdam, the driver had to speak English OR German OR Dutch
If we were lucky the driver was from NL and could speak all three, +3

+1 for learning a "small" language, Welsh of course, or Czech or Polish. Even if English is the Lingua Franca one can get points by speaking the local lingo

Are you a professor of language WJ? As far as I can see your English is perfect :wink:
Cycling? Of course, but it is far better on a Gillott.. Alternative facts welcome