When I was about 12 years old and starting 7th grade, I signed up to begin to study a foreign language -- Beginning French. Or so I thought.
Due to a registration error, the school also signed me up for Beginning Latin class. So for my first semester, I was studying foreign language for the first time and was studying two at the same time. Not surprisingly, I found that I couldn't maintain both.
Latin won out and I've never regretted that choice. To be honest, I can't remember the name of my 7th grade French teacher, but I definitely remember the Latin teacher, Mrs. Wall (quelle formidable!). And that's a story for another time.
However, I do remember the French textbook that we used in class had a series of "dialogues" meant to help students learn conversational French. I still remember the first one -- as do others, as some blog entries attest.
"Voila Monsieur Thibault. Il est ingenieur. Mr. Thibault j'abeit Place d'Italie a Paris..."
Well, imagine my surprise to actually find Place d'Italie in Paris! Rather comforting, in fact.
Since Latin is the basis for the Romance Languages, there is quite a bit that I'm able to figure out on my own in French. I know this will be true for Spain and Italy, whose languages also are based in Latin.
While I'm not perfect in the language, I am trying to give it a go. I greet all with a happy "Bonjour!" and often follow it with "Parlez-vous anglais?" After all, it seems courteous and fair to give the other person fair warning that I may not be able to speak their language before launching into a question in English that they may not understand. I have found Parisians to be unfailingly polite and helpful with this approach, which in turn encourages me to keep trying.
What is most frustrating is that I have the desire to speak, but lack the knowledge. And there is really only one way to change that. And so I continue to try -- and I'm glad I do.
And then there's this "helpful video":
- French Lesson: Shopping in a French Market (bonjourparis.com)
- What do you mean... they speak English here? (apistudyabroad.com)
- The third month's the charm! (blogs.iesabroad.org)
- Duke in Paris (studyabroad.com)