Paris Pratique! Language of Love: Introduction and tips to becoming a Francophile

It is often said that French is the “language of love,” appropriately so because beyond the romance, it is truly a labor of love to learn. While I had some lessons before moving to France, it took much more than a bit of studying to become fluent.

Picking up any second language as an adult takes the four P’s; practice, persistence, patience and passion. The way the r’s roll off the back the tongue, the pursing of the lips with every vowel and the blending of words are all things that make French beautiful as well as challenging.

Laugh

When in Paris, you might find yourself in need of some basic phrases to get by. Don’t be shy, as despite a sometimes-intimidating reputation, the French respect even imperfect attempts at the language. While many are happy to speak English, it is always kind to greet them in French and demonstrate your cosmopolitan attitude. As for the rumored sentiments towards Americans in France, stereotypes exist anywhere in the world. You will be pleasantly surprised to find these have been greatly exaggerated over the years. With good manners and a few essential phrases, you will be a very welcome patron in any corner of this beautiful country.

Since practice makes perfect, let’s begin with a fun little lesson. Whether you’re preparing for a trip, serious about becoming fluent in French or just learning for fun, here’s a quick lesson and my personal tips for becoming a Francophile…

In general...

Bonjour / Bonsoir → Hello / Good evening

S’il vous plait → Please

Merci, beaucoup → Thank you much

Je vous en prie / De rien → You’re welcome

Au revoir / Bonne nuit → Goodbye / Goodnight

In the street...

Excusez-moi, parlez vous anglais ? → Excuse me, do you speak English?

Pouvez-vous m’aider? → Could you help me?

Je cherche… → I’m looking for...

In a restaurant...

Un carafe d’eau, s’il vous plait → Some water, please

Je voudrais… → I would like…

Où sont les toilettes? → Where is the restroom?

In a shop...

Combien ça coûte? → How much does that cost?

Est-ce que je peux l’essayer? → Can I try this on?

Avez-vous d’autres couleurs / tailles? → Do you have other colors / sizes?

Just for fun...

Je veux gouter tous les parfums des macarons! → I want to taste all the flavors of macarons!

Ma marque de beauté préféré est Lancôme... → My favorite beauty brand is Lancôme…

J'adore Paris. Je ne veux jamais la quitter! → I adore Paris. I never want to leave!


Tips for learning French...

•    Immerse yourself — visit France, Quebec, or even your locally owned French café and experience the language around you.
•    Watch movies with French subtitles — revisit your favorite films and add French subtitles. This will accustom you to translating thoughts from English to French.
•    Converse — find a local French conversation group; they are everywhere!
•    Fake it until you make it — confidence is key! Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Just go for it and you will find your way...

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