Parlez-vous Français?

I must THINK before I speak French.
I have a grand plan to practice and learn more of the French language since France has become our annual vacation location. I have repeated this plan for the last few years, but haven't made sufficient progress.

I really need to improve my command of the language. Seriously. It's time.

With only five months until the next trip, I am setting goals to increase my vocabulary, improve my conjugation of verbs and my ability to converse. I'm also listening to many of the songs of the late Edith Piaf (La Vie En Rose fame) to make this task more enjoyable.

Languages are tedious to learn. I'm easily distracted.

My education included four years of French. Taught by a US Southern lady. Drawl and all! Not so good. Humorous, in fact. Slow and drawn-out syllables.

My pronunciation is an embarrassment when I speak, but I have found that making the effort is truly rewarding. The French appear to forgive me (and probably laugh when I leave) as long as I use these magic words:

Bonjour (madame, mademoiselle or monsieur). Always say hello.
S'il vous plait. Please.
Merci. Thank you.
Au revoir. Goodbye.

Those four years of classes were rather academic and severely lacked conversational training. I read French better than I speak it. I understand it better than I speak it. However, I cannot put answers together very quickly. I have to think about it awhile—too long!

My husband with his four years of the language, doesn't understand the spoken fast-French.  But, he is very skilled at constructing sentences rather quickly.

Much to the amusement of the French—our interactions go something like this:

  • I order our food or ask a question in my pre-planned French.
  • I mostly understand the French reply.
  • I translate to my husband in English.
  • He answers in French. 

This causes some confusion about our American culture or maybe our marriage. It seems that, as a woman, I must not be allowed to reply! Honestly, my husband is not a male chauvinist at all.

Separately, we cannot function with the language. Together, we are one! C'est lui pour moi. Moi pour lui. (He's for me. I'm for him.)

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel.


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