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Learning French for traveling purposes?

ImpImp Registered User regular
edited February 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
So I was talking to my girlfriend earlier about gift giving and holiday plans. As it turns out, we're both interested in traveling and awesome vacations instead of piles of gifts. She's always wanted to go to France, and I want to make that happen. Neither of us speak any French, but we want to learn. Any of you had any experience with learning a language for traveling? What worked, what didn't? I've heard Rosetta Stone is good, and I've heard it's bad from folks at work who've used it for conversational and business use. Really, I just want some info!

Thanks in advance folks!

Imp on

Posts

  • OverOver ...laser cats? Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Find some Michel Thomas.

    His method is completely orally based, no note taking or heavy reading, just listening and practicing. It's aimed at conversational proficiency, so if you're looking to travel, it should be fine.

    Over on
  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Learning a language, for any purpose, is something that requires a lot of dedication. The secret is to eat, sleep and breath that language untill you go insane.

    I encourage you to continue learning, even after you've traveled. There is no better experience than going to another country and getting around in the local language.

    MagicToaster on
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Everything I hear about Rosetta Stone is pretty bad. The Michel Thomas tapes are great though, especially his growing hatred of the female student.

    Learning a language is hard. I'm trying to pick up French at the moment, and even spending one or two weekends a month over there and doing weekly French classes for about a year has me at a very low level. So start long before you intend to get there.

    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    And also understand that in major cities you'll be fine without any French, so even knowing some French will be a great help. Don't expect to travel the countryside sleeping in cottages on just English, but hey, the cabbies in Paris speak better English than those in New York.

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • legallytiredlegallytired Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Basically what Improvolone said.

    Unless you are incredibly dedicated, trying to learn french before the trip won't help you that much as most will answer back in english or you simply won't understand their answer. Even as a french native speaker I had to be pretty careful with the way I talked to be understood.

    Learning some greetings/thanks and basic stuff never hurts however!

    legallytired on
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Useful phrases not spelled phonetically:
    Je ne parle (pas) francais - I do not speak French - The pas is grammatically correct but you can get by without it
    Tu parles Englais? - Do you speak English?
    C'est tout (?) - That is all/is that all? - Most sales/food people will ask this at the end so expect to hear it all the time
    Oui - Yes
    Non- No
    Merci (beacoup) - Thank you (very much)
    Bonjour - Formal greeting
    Allo- informal greeting
    Ca va? - How are you? Appropriate responses are...
    Bien - good
    Mal - bad
    ca va - kind of middle of the road. So yes, "ca va?" "ca va merci. es tu (and you)?" "ca va." is an entire conversation.

    Even if you go knowing four words, use them when you can. People legitimately appreciate your effort.

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • ArangArang HUEY LEWISRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Tu parles Englais? - Do you speak English?

    One note on this: French has two second-person personal pronouns, polite and impolite. The impolite is tu and the polite is vous. There's some grammar stuff (verb conjugation), but you'll be using the polite form when talking to strangers, asking for directions etc. You probably won't be murdered for screwing up, but you will be seen as a jerk.

    I'm not 100% sure what's expected when talking to cashiers and waiters and such, but going with polite is the safe choice.

    As such, the polite forms of the above phrase is Parlez-vous Anglais?

    Really, though, don't worry too much about grammar. The French are always happy to hear foreigners speak or try to speak French.

    Arang on
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  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    If you're just going to learn a little bit of French then you only need to use the formal you (vous). So to a bus driver, waiter, policeman, stranger, etc. you should be using vous. Also, "Allo" is not an informal greeting, it's just how you answer the phone. "Salut" is what you're looking for, I think.

    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    The Parisians will never miss a chance to hate you for being impolite. Always use vous when it's appropriate. Basic grammar is a vital bit of learning a language!

    A good bit of advice I got from some French friends regarding vocab was "English is just French words with an English accent".

    corcorigan on
    Ad Astra Per Aspera
  • geckahngeckahn Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    michel thomas is awesome. I learned more spanish in two weeks of listening to his tapes then I did in a semester of spanish class.

    geckahn on
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