I Have to Learn French in a Month

Yes,  I’m turning 40 this fall – –  so to try and forget about the crippling depression that accompanies this unsavory fact, I’ve spent the last two years planning a month-long trip to La Belle France for September 2008.  I planned the whole itinerary myself, and this entailed making numerous hotel reservations, rental car reservations, airline tickets, train reservations, not to mention figuring out where to eat, where to go, where to stay, etc. etc.  It seems I forgot one tiny detail: learning to speak French.

Well, I should say re-learn how to speak French. I took French from 7-12 grade and then 3 out of 4 years in college.  You would think this would mean that I could kind of figure some stuff out just from having studied it for so long, but as they say, if you don’t use it you lose it.  And, boy – do you!  My French is just plain sad.

Considering that I have known we were going on this trip for two years I would have prepared a little better, but alas that did not happen.  I did buy a couple of CDs, including the ubiquitous Rosetta Stone, but realized after about 1/3 the way through that I was trying to memorize silly things that not only will I not need on my trip, I don’t think I’ve ever needed in English:

  • The milk is white.
  • Smell the cake. (?)
  • He stole my pocket watch!
  • I am very interested in art history.
  • I would like a black and white TV (?)
Really, what I need are a few key phrases that will allow me to get what is really important to me:
  • Keep ’em comin!
  • Is that the brother-in-law price?
  • Don’t take that tone with me, mister!
  • I am really not interested in art history.
  • No kidneys for me, thanks.
I finally broke down a few weeks ago and bought a CD that is French for Travel.  I did download it on my iPhone, but I haven’t really started to study it yet.  Hopefully I’ll get it together enough to not embarrass myself, and not have what happened to us in Guadaloupe a few years ago where I ordered and entire meal for my husband and I in French, and then watched as not one thing that came out of the kitchen was what I thought I ordered. I think I ate a goat that day, my friends.

Wish me luck!

10 thoughts on “I Have to Learn French in a Month

  1. Why don’t you want to smell the cake? But seriously, thanks for saving me the $200-$300 I was about to drop on Rosetta Stone. I can’t even remember the last time someone stole my pocket watch.

    Speaking of Americans attempting to speak French, if you haven’t already had the pleasure, grab a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. Hearing him describe how he has been torturing the French language will give you a welcome respite from your admittedly hopeless situation.

    If I were you, I’d just concentrate on “keep ’em coming” and let the pom fritts fall where they may on all the rest.

  2. I think the Rosetta Stone would be good if you were planning on working/living somwhere where English is not the primary language or taking a prolonged trip where you may meet new friends or something. But, if you are just traveling for a few weeks like me, and not really planning on having long detailed discussions about existentialism with the guy sitting next to you in the bistro, it seems like a little much.

    Now I am concentrating on numbers, hotels, restaurant stuff, train station/airport stuff and I am also memorizing foods I do not want – like kidneys! 🙂

    Plus, unlike Guadaloupe, most French speak English anyway since we are so lame with learning languages. I will try my best to speak as much french as possible, however – even if I do end up eating a goat again!

  3. Hahaha, great post… “je ne m’interesse pas a l’histoire d’art”… it could save you many a yawn. 😉 Good luck with the French for Travel package. You might find it all sticks in your brain a little easier once you are in France – being immersed in the language speeds up your language acquisition hugely… almost like learning by osmosis. I strongly recommend continuing to try to learn with your CD once you are in France – you’ll notice the difference! And even if during the first few days you end up sucking up the Chef’s Kidney Surprise, hopefully by the time you leave you’ll be able to order your most desired filet mignon and glass of red… and “keep ’em comin’ “. Have a fantastic trip – bon courage! 😀

  4. I know a woman who told me that the only sentance she ever learns while travleling abroad is, “Get away from me or I’ll scream!”

    She swears that this has been sufficient in five countries.

  5. The best resources to use to learn any language is Assimil. Those courses are great and get you to an intermediate level in 3 months. By the way, I hope you didn’t spend all of your money on hotels in France as a tourist. You would have done better to enroll in a course through an immersion school and get cheap housing.

  6. hello
    I found this topic by accident because i was trying to find ways to setup an elearning page for
    my readers who learn french…thanks for that post, i added your site to my favorites and will be back to check it out some more later

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