Post # 1
Anyone learning a foreign language on their own before they honeymoon? We are taking a cruise through the mediterranean and then flying to Paris for 2 nights to end the trip. My fiance’ is very nervous about us not knowing the French language and getting around Paris. We all know what people say about Parisians and their language stubborniss. I’d like to at least learn the basics before we go. Anyone learning a foreign language on their own? Any reccommendations for books or methods of quick learning?
Post # 3
When I went to paris with my dad a while ago we ran into a few people who didn’t really know english, but for the most part we got by fairly well. Try to learn essential phrases and words that you will need.
Post # 4
Rosetta stone is supposed to be one the best. The absolute best is to convert to Mormonism and get sent on a mission to a foreign country. They language program is the best in the world and the missionaries leave fluent after spending a few months in an intense immersion program. But I am guessing that is not an option.
Anyway, I think it is very important that you attempt to learn some of the language before you go. You’ll enjoy yourself so much more when you know you can communicate, even if it how to order off a menu or ask for directions. The people will be more receptive to helping you. Even though their culture is very similar to ours, be sure to do a little reseach on customs. Don’t want to find yourself giving someone their version of "the finger" by accident!
Post # 5
I may sound like a self-centered American for saying this, but my experience with my several visits to Paris is that everyone speaks english — they just may not let this on to you!
Post # 6
My French teacher swears that Rosetta Stone is the best method to learn a language on your own. You just have to be very disciplined and committed to the program.
Post # 7
From my experience, many people in Paris speak English, at least at hotels/restaurants/museums/other touristy places. But they definitely appreciate it when you at least try to start speaking in French, and are likely to be friendlier to you. Plus I think it’s always good form to make an attempt to speak the language of whatever country you visit, even if it’s just hello goodbye thank you!
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on books, you can try the BBC languages site:
They have a free "course" where you go through learning exercises with an emphasis on travel phrases. I used the German one before going to Switzerland, and it was pretty helpful. You can at least pick up enough to get by with some of the very basics.
Good luck, and have fun!
Post # 8
It is always polite to be able to say a few things in the language of the country you are visiting. My experience in France is that unless you speak pretty good French, they will mostly ignore your attempts at their language (at best) and at worst will actually roll their eyes and look as if you are somehow insulting them if your French is poor. In fact in the larger cities everyone you will need to interact with (shop keepers, hotel clerks, wait staff, airport and train station employees) does speak English.
You say you’re going to the Med – if you have time to learn a little of another language I would concentrate on Italian. The Italians are very friendly, and will actually appreciate your attempts to speak their language (unlike the French), and will be quite helpful with your bad American accent rather than disdainful of it.
Post # 9
I speak a bit of French and had waiters speak back to me in French (even when I had just seen them speak English to another couple) and waiters answer me in English–it didn’t matter to me, as long as our communication was as clear as possible. I was in a Paris laundromat trying to do some wash, but couldn’t for the life of me figure out the machines. The only other person in there was a guy who spoke no English and even though we could barely communicate, he stayed with me and helped me figure out the machines–even until it was time to put the laundry in the dryer!
Last year, I was in Japan (don’t speak Japanese at all) and had a very lengthy "conversation" with a clerk who kept talking, even though I could only say "arigato" every once in a while.
All of that goes to demonstrate that in any country, being polite and well-mannered will get you far.
Post # 10
My fiance and I went to Paris last month, and we didn’t know the language at all, and we didn’t have time to prepare. But our guide book had a page for common phrases, and that’s seriously all you need to get by. It had the words spelled with the French alphabet and then phonetically. Most guide books should have this. Also, most people there do speak English, so don’t worry. Don’t worry; most of the French are very nice…only a handful of rude ones.
most important phrase to know:
Excusez-moi, parlez vous anglais? – Excuse me, do you speak English?
Post # 11
Rosetta Stone is more appropriate if you’re committed to learning the language. My fiance bought it to prep for a month-long stay in Paris, but wasn’t dedicated so only learned a few random phrases (the boy sits under the airplane).
While I do speak French, I’ve traveled with those who do not, and it’s not usually a problem. My advice is to learn a few key phrases (and how to pronounce them passably – just look at the phoenetic spelling or use audio tapes). Top on the list:
– Excuse me, do you speak English? (see reesey’s post above)
– I’m sorry, I do not speak French: Je suis desolee, mais je ne parle pas francais.
– Thank you: Merci.
– Hello: Bonjour
Most rude treatment reported in Paris is from the very touristy areas (perhaps they are playing to the stereotype of rude Parisians or just annoyed at all the tourists who expect them to speak another language). If you follow a few simple bits of etiquette, you’ll be fine.
1) always greet shop keepers when you enter a store and say thank you when you leave
2) learn the phrases above
3) be nice
4) buy a map – this will help you navigate. my absolute favorite is the Paris par arrondissement (Paris by neighborhood). This is usually a booklet or a small spiral bound map broken out by arrondissement (numbered neighborhoods). If you are trying to find a place and have the street address, the last two digits of the postal code are the arrondissement. There is also a street listing in the back, so if you’re looking for a particular street, you can figure it out that way. Mine was incredibly useful when I was there (many French-speaking people stopped me for directions!). Most include a metro map as well, that shows the system map and all the connections. It makes getting around soooo much easier!
Paris is, by far, my favorite place. Best of luck and enjoy the trip!
Post # 12
Oh – and depending on the length of your stay, you may want to consider renting an apartment. Not only can it be more cost-effective, but the rooms are usually much larger than a standard hotel room and you get to hang out in fun neighborhoods. 🙂
Post # 13
i’ve traveled all over Europe, both for business and for pleasure, and don’t speak a lick of any other language than American English. Got around just fine. Unless you plan on going to very small towns/villages, I wouldn’t worry about it.
Post # 14
I speak French pretty well actually and never had to use a word of it in Paris. The only time I needed to know the language was during my home-stay and when visiting the smaller towns around the country. Frankly, you can probably just buy a book to learn simple phrases like pps said.