How’s your French?

When presented with the most common French words, I confidently know about 60 of the top 100. Does that indicate enough vocab to get by for three months in France? I know some basic verb contructions. Je mange. J’ai mange. Je vais mange. And I often listen to teach-yourself-French through headphones while scootering around the Wellington waterfront. Is that enough?

Yes it is. To my advantage, revealing faults in my French does not deter me from attempting the language. And I have some key phrases to help me in most conversations: Repetez lentement, s’il vous plait. (Say that again slowly please.)

Jennie has a better level of French than me and will back me up when required. Ollie and Tom face a bigger challenge, since they will probably have to speak French at school. They’ve been preparing for that challenge for a long time with after-school French classes, some French classes at school, and recently some French-language movies. This term both boys are doing much more intensive learning: private tutoring before school three mornings per week with Marion. Here’s Jennie’s blog post about that tutoring. They are making progress and it will certainly help them in France. In the longer term, it might pay a dividend in confidence from having prepared for, faced, and overcome a difficult challenge.

4 thoughts on “How’s your French?

  1. Andrew Rowse

    You’re doing well. I struggled to justify learning French, since Susie is fluent. It seemed sub-optimal, and I felt like I should learn something she didn’t know instead, to maximise our combined language range. This attitude did have occasional negative consequences.

    1. Stephen Christie Post author

      I tried a similar strategy in the 1990s. At the time Jennie knew no Italian, so I decided to cover that base. For me at least, Italian seemed a lot easier to grasp than French, and I made some reasonable progress. But after we visited Italy and fell in love with that country, Jennie decided to learn Italian too. She is now much better than me at Italian, as well as French and German. It doesn’t irk me at all. Really.

  2. sonjajellis

    I spent two years at secondary school learning French but really struggled to get to grips with tense and grammar. I also spent a lot of years learning ballet (which involves a lot of French words!). Despite struggling with the language in school, in recent years I’ve made an effort to speak a little French when on holiday there. I’ve often used a phrase book to jog my memory or help me out, but I really felt I’d accomplished something when I managed to do some shopping in the Boulangerie all in French 🙂


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