Friday, February 24, 2012

French – is it an easy language to learn ......

I suppose the biggest concern that many people will have about making a move to a foreign country is the ability to communicate.  Whilst it is easy to get away with the bare minimum of spoken word and frantic pointing and gesticulating when on holiday, making a different country your new home and achieving everything you need to start your new life does really require a little more competancy.

The decision to live in a different country should mean that you want to become part of that new community and submerge yourself in everything that is good about the culture and the way of life that you are choosing.  A fairly competant grasp of the language is useful and a desire to improve that initial ‘grasp’ even more desirable.

So how easy is it to learn French ........

Well having a basic schoolboy ability in French to start with and often forgetting much of what was learnt spending short break holidays and long weekends in our appartment, it seemed  that the ability to communicate effectively was light years away and somewhat of an impossibility.  

But no!  We have just got back from opening two new bank accounts with our chosen local bank (one personal and one for Brittany Gems – we have banked with Barclays France for the last four years but they seem to be closing down facilities for foreign account holders??) and during a two hour meeting , held completely in French we only needed to refer to the dictionary twice.

‘C’est magnifique’ – and praise for our French at the conclusion of our meeting suitably satsifying. 

The secret - being here permanently for what is effectively the last 6 months and making a huge effort to become part of the local community, not being afraid of getting things wrong and not taking it the wrong way when corrected (something which the french are very good at doing).  Don’t get me wrong we still sometimes glaze over during a french converstation through complete lack of understanding and we are by no means fluent but we are making excellent progress and enjoying doing it!

But officially it seems that French is a much easier language to learn for the Brits than many other languages, particulalry compared with Spanish.  David I. from Learn French Video writing for French Entree  this week claims .......

‘A large portion of vocabulary is very similar to English. This is because in addition to the French language being derived from Latin, higher-level English words also come from Latin. So, English words in the fields of science and medicine, law, politics and economics are all very similar to French.

What's more, almost all adverbs (English words that end in 'ly') and process words that end in 'tion' and 'sion' are almost all the same in French and English. This makes learning French extremely easy as you can actually guess a lot of the new vocabulary!

A lot of people shy away from French due to the belief that the pronunciation is too difficult and much harder than Spanish. While the French language is less phonetic than Spanish the pronunciation is not impossible to learn and can be mastered by most students in a matter of hours or days. Furthermore, there are lots of set patterns which make learning easier.

When it comes to the verb, "to be", French is much easier than Spanish. This is because in French there is only one word for to be: "être". In Spanish there are two ways of saying to be: ser and estar. These two different ways of saying 'to be' can cause a lot of confusion for beginners and even intermediate and advanced-level students. When studying French you do not have to deal with this issue.’

So there it is ......

Don’t let the prosepct of learning French put you off visiting or making a move to this beautiful country and if you make mistakes – c’est la vie!

We have asked for prostitutes in butchers shops (asking for ‘Poule’ as opposed to ‘Poulet’

asked a very heterosexual estate agent who we have started working with in our business venture Brittany Gems to join us for dinner and bring their boyfriend not girlfriend (by saying ‘copin’ instead of ‘copine’

and heard the great story of a young girl being horrified by an enthusiastic expat admiring her dog so much so that she could just steal it away (‘voler’) when she actually said she wanted to rape it (‘viol’).

Bon courage ..........

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