Jump to content
Complete France Forum

Speaking English in France


Jonzjob

Recommended Posts

The day before eyesterday I had just dragged myself out of bed, about 8.30, well we are retired.. I was siping my cuppa and watching the haunted fish tank (TV to some) and there was the French Secretary of State for Health, Xavier Bertrand, talking about the plight of the French health system. Suddenly I did a second take at what he was saying, it sounded like he was answering questions in English to the woman interviewing him! She asked if he could speak English, he replied yes but he found it difficult to learn (I know the feeling), but he then said that he thought that it was importaint for all of the French government to learn and speak English!!!?

Are all of our troubles over I ask myself? And am I wasting my time by learning to speak French, or should that be 'trying to learn to speak French'?

Any ideas?

John (bye bye lingual)

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my experience, the French are the first to admit that as a nation the French aren't too hot on learning other languages.   Yes, I know, you all thought it's only the Brits who don't bother, right?

They give credit to the Germans and the Dutch, who they say ARE good at learning other languages.

German-teaching in France is in a parlous state.  Spanish here depends on the collège catchment area, and in our collège isn't available as a première langue.   English is in a better state, but that's because of cultural and practical considerations, not because they necessarily like it.   Right now,  primary-level English here is a lottery.

So keep plodding on, Jonzjob, English won't be the French lingua franca for quite a while! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"In my experience, the French are the first to admit that as a nation the French aren't too hot on learning other languages.   Yes, I know, you all thought it's only the Brits who don't bother, right?"

Mine too, SB, hear it often.  And although it's commendable that the ruling elite in Paris may be making more an effort to learn English, I think one can generally assume that the mec who comes to fix la fosse septique or the bloke at the garage can't.  I'd therefore keep up the studies, Jonzjob, and keep listening to the radio and TV, they're invaluable. 

Margaret

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mine too, SB, hear it often.  And although it's commendable that the ruling elite in Paris may be making more an effort to learn English, I think one can generally assume that the mec who comes to fix la fosse septique or the bloke at the garage can't.  I'd therefore keep up the studies, Jonzjob, and keep listening to the radio and TV, they're invaluable. 

Margaret

 

Oh dear Margaret, you are guilty of using a Living France shovel to dig a hole for yourself.

I am sure you wrote before you thought with regard to the fosse oik and the grease monkey at the garage who would be so ill-educated not to speak english.

A  pat on the back to all the people I have found at all sorts of places who have had a better command of a foreign language than me and many of them without a tie on and with dirt under their finger nails.

Weedon (53)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The France Telecom bloque wot came to fix our marche pas telephone could not speak a word of English and he didn't have dirty finger nails. We got on great and he bent over back wards to make sure that our problem was fixed and that our also marche pas ADSL line was sorted. I was surprised also that he refused a cup of coffee when he arrived. We managed to comunicate on failly techincal points, he learned a little English and we a little more French.

We will continue to learn as much, as quickly as me poor old brane sell can manage...

John.

P.S. Thank you for the in courage ment Margaret (I wonder about me English sometymes two?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Weedon - you are right. Our phone engineer, the water man spoke excellent English, the local hotelier and his wife can count eight or nine between them, and last week I found a lad in Bricomarché who could undersyand what I was on about when I couldn't explain myself in either language...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"In my experience, the French are the first to admit that as a nation the French aren't too hot on learning other languages. Yes, I know, you all thought it's only the Brits who don't bother, right?"

Both believe they speak a world language and are waiting for others to learn it.

And French is a world language : in France.

Peter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

re Jonzjob's coffee

well brought up French people refuse such things at least twice however much they want them, unless they are very used to dealing with English people... having said that a lot of people don't take coffee (or anything)  between breakfast and lunch.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What's wrong with Margaret's comment? In my experience what she said is true and I've plenty of french friends (including builders, plumbers, electricians etc..... )who would back me up on this one. If her statement is inaccurate perhaps it's because she's one of those Brits who's worked hard to attain an excellent level of French and therefore hasn't needed to converse in English. I know that Margaret speaks excellent french because the exams she's passed in French aren't a pushover by any means.

In my opinion her initial comment is a valid one. We're in France, French is the official language and therefore learning it will make life an awful lot easier.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"to the fosse oik and the grease monkey at the garage who would be so ill-educated not to speak english"

This may be your view of these people but it's certainly not mine, I have enormous respect for anyone who can fix anything as I never can.  They're worth their weight in gold, but I would never expect French ones to speak English. 

Margaret

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

>>grease monkey at the garage <<<

Oh well back to the drawing board for me - I thought 'mec' meant something different, not short for mechanic?

BTW as I read this week, according to the late LLP, well bought up people act with respect toward everybody, no matter who - and I know MJW is well bought up !

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as respect is concerned, making the effort to converse in French must be pretty high up there on the agenda? Dictionaries can be pretty useful!!

I'm fully aware of the need to improve the quality and provision of langugae teaching in France, but this is required in order to further France's position in Europe rather than to help expats avoid the necessity of learning the language of the country in which they live.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree wholeheartedly cjb ( is that a first ??)my French language skills are dreadful (not helped by a recent lack of visits) but I always make the effort accompanied by a smile, which usually results in all parties at least thinking they know what the other means!

I was really referring to a poster hinting that MWJ was not respectful to manual workers though.

PS When is the baby due??
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was really referring to a poster hinting that MWJ was not respectful to manual workers though.
***************************************************

Occasionally on this forum (and for all I know on other similar forums as well) there is some old flannel written about the need to fully embrace the culture and that somehow you are not doing your duty if you cannot converse fluently with the locals and that perhaps you should beat yourself up if you even so much as hint that you lack the ability to speak french.

I admit to having lousy french, but that doesn't prevent me from going about my everyday life dealing with such things as the tax man, CPAM, DIY materials and ordering central heating oil and getting the fosse man to come to do his sludge gulping, the last two are particularly difficult as it involves using the telephone. But its no big deal, difficult some times, but not the end of the world. And I know not to judge by appearances because all sorts have the ability to speak english and yes I do welcome that when I discover it because it makes for an easy life. 

Just off the top of my head I can recall, Natalie in Gamm Vert who put me onto a friend of hers with a digger, Michelle in Brico Marche who did her best to cajole me into taking her store card (this after speaking? to her in french for 2 years) Veronique at the local hospital, who worked in a pub near my previous village some years ago, Ludovic at Credit Mutuelle and a girl at Mr Bricolage who worked at a landscape company in Birmingham.  There are probably lots of others but they have all been helpful to me, seemed to enjoy the fact they could speak good english and very pleasant it is to speak with them as well.

Weedon(53)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The baby's due in just a few weeks. My wife's now 35 weeks pregnant!! I'm currently reading "Papa debutant" in an attempt to get a grasp of what is about to confront us! Everything's going fine. One minute I'm really excited and the next I'm terrified!

Thanks for asking. I'll post her photo as soon as she makes an appearance.

Chris (Currently enjoying uninterrupted sleep)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Chris (Currently enjoying uninterrupted sleep)"

Chris, good luck to you and your wife with your new 'littleun' and make the most of that uninterupted sleep.

My uniterupted sleep didn't recommence until we had managed to convince both my son and daughter that it was time yo bu**er off and live in their own places. I love them dearly, but my son now runs a pub and was coming in at 2 in the morning. My daughter stayed out till all hours no matter what she was asked/told/begged. Now I can watch, because they now have lovely sons of their own, one each. We are now looking forward to them coming over to stay with us, can't wait ...!

John (proud grandad)

P.S. What ever you do, try not to miss your daughters birth. I watched both of mine and for my son's the nurse told me that if I felt faint, to go and faint in the corner out of their way. Faint! not a chance. I was toooo enthralled in what was happening to faint! Also I'll bet she learns French quicker that you...

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sure she'll be correcting my french in only a few years from now!! I'll be speaking English with her and my wife will handle the French speaking. She's bound to have great fun in correcting us both in our respective second languages!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"'mec' meant something different"

Must do, Gay, and it can't be derogatory for whenever my Belgian colleague in the next office hears me describing him as "un bon mec" he beams with pride!  So no insult there.  And I would like to think I respect everyone, more especially manual workers.  Wouldn't swap my much loved OH for anyone but thought does occasionally cross my mind that it would be more useful if he were a plumber or an electrician rather than an economist!

Chris: I've been meaning to say, I can never identify Miki's sportsmen in his avatar but I think I'm a bit better with Italian churches.  Isn't that Santa Maria della Salute in the background?  You're standing on the Accademia Bridge, surely?

Margaret

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not bad, Margaret. It was taken about 3 years ago whilst we were on holiday in Venice! How did the DALF go? If I ever find any spare time I'd like to have a go at it, but if I do I'll make sure that I give myself plenty of preparation time. My spoken french has improved a lot since I took the DELF 2 but I'm not so sure about my written level as my wife tends to do the letter writing. At the moment my writing in French is restricted to text messages and e-mails!!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sure, it's not a term you'd use loosely but some men are really good blokes, fortunately the nice young Belgian next to me is one of them!  M

Chris:  Test d'acces on the 20th Nov.  B1 (compte rendu) 27th, B3 (la synthese) 30th.  Oral immediately after (fate worse than death - you have to talk for 40 mins on the given subject).  But then the real blow.  Dates are later than usual this year and run into December.  I have to be in Italy on the date of the aural comprehension so will have to defer B2 this final paper until May (drat).

M

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Best of luck, Margaret. You have my full sympathy!! 40 minutes, that seems a bit steep. Does that include a question and answer session at the end or does that follow the 40 minutes? Are you specialising in Sciences Humaines?

Un de ces jours je le passerai mais je ne sais pas quand, exactement, car j'ai l'impression que je serais très occupé avec le bébé! Peut-être elle va m'aider avec mes preperations!!

As for "mec" it's used pretty regularly in informal situations. The french that I hear is always so different from that that I learnt at College, hein, tu vois, c'est clair n'est-ce pas!!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chris, yes, I'm sciences humaines but papers vary widely in how general they are, some are quite technical.  Oral exam:  candidates are given three articles from journals such as l'Expres/Nouvel Observateur all on a similar theme.  You have an hour to digest them.  Then have to give a verbal account, precis form, to a jury of 3, all of whom take it in turns to quiz you on the articles, which you're not allowed to refer to.  You then have to give your own views on the subject.  My "mock" was on noise pollution and it was tough.  M  
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...