How much French do you need to get by? (1 Viewer)

Jan 11, 2022
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No then, long time ago when I was at school the idea of learning a foreign language was English for us pitmatic northerners.
So being good with French German etc, how much would you say is really needed to at least show willing when in French.
Next year might see us spending 3 or 4 weeks there as sister in law is desperate to go back there.
Not worried about the travel or driving I just would like to make a effort to speak some French when over there.
 

MattR

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Aug 18, 2013
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No then, long time ago when I was at school the idea of learning a foreign language was English for us pitmatic northerners.
So being good with French German etc, how much would you say is really needed to at least show willing when in French.
Next year might see us spending 3 or 4 weeks there as sister in law is desperate to go back there.
Not worried about the travel or driving I just would like to make a effort to speak some French when over there.
It partly depends on where you go. Being able to greet someone and ask basics such as have you got a pitch for the night is useful. My French isn't great but I survive with basic CSE French and a willingness to try. Google Translate helps with more complicated conversations.
 
Feb 14, 2021
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19 month year 18000 miles UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Italy. Campsites and off Grid.
I don't speak a word but my wife makes a good effort. But to be honest, it is perfectly possible to get by with hoping they will understand English, or a bit of sign language....or Google translate!
 
Apr 27, 2008
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Very little needed. I did and passed just, O level French in the 60s. My pronounciation is appalling but enough to show willing. The French recipient of my efforts has been known to ask me to speak English so he can understand me.
Used to be able to get little audio cassettes with titles like 'my holiday French/German/Klingon' which gave some very basic phrases.
Someone posted on here about poor pronounciation when a waitress confused his 'Thank you very much' for 'Thank you nice arse'
 
Last edited:
Oct 2, 2014
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The problem is after you have delivered your pre prepared and practised French sentence.
Their reply is so fast that any hope of recognising a single word of it is impossible. Your only hope then is
“Parlez-vous Anglais?”.
But at least we tried.

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OP
OP
1967bowesj
Jan 11, 2022
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Did download a learn French app, might give it another go.

About the only sentence I half know is” I’m sorry I don’t understand “ thought it would come in useful at some point hahahaha
 

Lenny HB

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Oct 18, 2007
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Tried learning French when we first started going to France 40 years ago never did grasp it gave up after a couple of year at night school. It did help a bit.

Nowadays you can get buy without it as most shops are self service.
I can ask for bread & croissant and of course a beer.
 
Sep 21, 2016
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Whenever I speak French, I always get answered in English, when I ask how they know I am English they laugh and say your accent and your complexion:giggle: but the French do like it when you make the effort.

Gina.

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Feb 16, 2019
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Try coffee break french it’s quite good.
Also in other languages!
But then again how much do you need?
Camp for free, no language required.
Shop in supermarkets no language required.
If you have a problem, then anything you know is a waste of time.
To order coffee / beer / wine quite a small sentence with a yes or no without quite knowing what you have just agreed to is all part of the fun!
 

MattR

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Whenever I speak French, I always get answered in English, when I ask how they know I am English they laugh and say your accent and your complexion:giggle: but the French do like it when you make the effort.

Gina.
We spent a few weeks in Normandy, the Loire and Dunkirk this summer. Amongst many other things, I was impressed with the perseverance of many of the folk I communicated with...I used my best basic French and found most folk willing to go along and then help me in English when I ran out of French. Some used their own English, some used Google Translate or Siri...I'm working on improving my French but it was pleasing to see folk helping me rather than dismissing my attempts.

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Jul 18, 2009
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2004
Always learn the basics.

Hello,
Please,
Thank you and
Goodbye.

The French are renowned for going into other European countries, not just neighbouring ones and just speaking in French.

I speak quite good, if fairly basic French, have done for over 40 years. But despite speaking it well and getting the grammar correct. I often encounter the Gallic shrug.

My Spanish is not so good, but the Spanish are far more receptive than the French.
 

suavecarve

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Aug 18, 2009
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I speak it quite well in my mind. I read it even better, cant understand anything they say.
Wife has a vocabulary of
Bonjour
Bonsoir
S'il vous plait
un deux trois quatre cing
Tranche (tronshay) (Sliced for bread or ham)
Oui and Non
Pain Croissant Baguette and Gateaux
Merci and Monsieur and madame
Qu'est ce que C'est ?
Anglais
Pardon
Bier

I leave her out there by herself with that and she is quite happy.

Wife also speaks to our Ukrainians in her French thinking they understand !!!!!! 🤔
 

Ridgeway

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Mar 10, 2012
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Usually just enough to embarrass yourself, that’ll normally do it…

Many years ago i stopped in the car and asked where the riding stables were (was taking my daughter for her lesson), got quite a strange look, i repeated my question and she just shrugged.

I asked where is the “écureuil” was when i really should have been asking where the “ecurie” was (sounded about the same to me.

Whilst the second word is stables, the first word is squirrel, No3 daughter explained afterwards as she kept silent in the back of the car during the episode…

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Dec 24, 2014
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Ever since lighting was by Calor gas.
I was brought up until I was 25 in a tri-lingual home (French, English, German) and spent most of my working career living and working in 5 main European countries. I've had French wife and German long-term partner so never lost those earlier years benefits from meeting up at family and social gatherings as well as at work and from the national radio and T.V.

As well as some form of online or home learning, (however basic and superficial it may be), I thoroughly recommend having a French radio station on at home or when driving, (or a French TV station if you can get it), even if just as 'background noise'.
Panel quizzes, weather forecasts and world news programmes are good because you will be familiar with the subjects and many of the expected terms and conversational phrases relating to those topics. In addition, you will over time develop an ear for the rhythm and pronunciation so that when 'over there' it won't sound so alien to you. Initially you probably won't understand much except perhaps the time checks but gradually you will find that you pick up more and more.
France Inter is a good all round station whose main audience is 50 to 65 year olds


The News/current affairs/music stations are also good for learning as you'll often have an inkling as to the subject and meaning of the presenter's waffle between the plays.


One thing's for certain; there's nothing as good for learning and confidence as a couple of weeks' immersion over there.
 
Sep 21, 2016
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If you can count up to the number of croissants you'll be buying in the morning, and say please and thankyou while smiling, you'll be fine (y)
Always smile, wherever you are in the world if you are struggling with the language, smile it is acceptable and liked the whole world over and always gets a positive response in my experience(y)

Gina.
 
Jun 19, 2014
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It is so worth the effort to open a conversation in French, but you can be assured that there is a high likelihood that the exchange will be in English. It is appreciated that you try, but, as they are mostly keen to practice their English, the opportunity to do so seems to be appreciated more. I have a stock opening, which I have practiced, that says, in effect "May we speak in English, please? I would like to speak French, but it is so bad that you would be offended, and you would not understand me."

Sometimes I am able to introduce my favourite sentence, which is "I speak French like a Spanish cow." I've no idea who taught me that one, but it always produces a response from a grin to a guffaw of laughter.

However, there is a golden rule, that transcends everything, and that is to say "Bonjour" to anybody and everybody. Walk into a bakery, say "Bonjour" loudly. In a bar nod to all there and say "Bonjour". Pass somebody in the street - "Bonjour". No conversation of any sort can take place without that greeting.***

Except when it is "Bonsoir" (good evening). Here they play tricks on you. Say "Bonsoir, and they will reply "Bonjour". Aha! So say "Bonjour" to the next person, and they will respond "Bonsoir".

There are no rules.

*** I kept my boat in France for a long time, and I remember once in the early days of our relationship, when there was a bit of an emergency, rushing up to the boatyard owner babbling about the problem. He took me by the arm and kindly said "First we greet, then we'll solve the problem."

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