Parles vous Français?

Our knowledge of the french language is limited to say the least. I learnt Spanish at school and Lauren German, so no help there. My french is atrocious to say the least, but I am always prepared to give it a go, even if I don’t make myself understood in my north Manchester accent.

Through various trips and holidays to France I’ve always prided myself on being able to order drinks and a meal in restaurants and bars. Although I’ve not always got what I thought I ordered, but I’ve always considered that part of the fun as I eat anything (more of this in later blogs)!!

In preparation for our french relocation we all, kids included, downloaded the Duolingo
img_7589app on our iPads and spent 10-15 minutes a day learning some basic french. This was a useful introduction to the language but really doesn’t prepare you for the day to day conversations you are going to have in France.

I’ve set myself a target of been reasonably fluent in conversational french in the first 10 months we are here. It’s quite an ambitious target but one I am going to enjoy attempting. Our girls are already a month into their french education and are already miles ahead of us with their pronunciation and vocabulary. Evie, our eldest at 10, speaks with immaculate pronunciation, losing her strong Burnley accent in no time at all.

Lauren & I are now taking french lessons on a one to one basis for an hour a week. Our teacher takes you right back to the basics. Placing great emphasis on being able to pronounce words correctly, using books that are used in infant schools. This may sound very basic but it needs doing. French is a wonderfully expressive language and without understanding how words are spoken you will never make yourself understood.

We also spend our Thursday evenings in the local language club where like minded french and english people while away a couple of hours. Amongst other things everyone has to give a brief report on their week in their non-native tongue. At first it can be quite daunting but everyone is in the same boat and its quite entertaining too.

In addition to this we listen to french radio all the time in the car and slowly but surely we are beginning to understand the gist of the conversations, picking out more words day by day. I also use the iTranslate app on my phone to help my vocabulary and we are also going to try to watch some french TV with subtitles on. It all helps your progress.

I’m going to measure my progress by how I go on in the local shops and markets. At our local Spar run by a lovely very french couple I am now having conversation about the weather as long as the usual Ça va?

The Monday market though is where I can see the best progress. We now pick up the amounts we have to pay quite easily and again try to have a conversation with the stallholders, often asking what is the correct way to say words and they are always most obliging.

I’d also like to think I am starting to gain a french accent although I have a long long way to go on this!! I will hopefully blog about my french progress most months so until next time…..au revior et à bientôt.

Ian

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