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Old 07-20-08, 02:56 AM   #1
Harry Stone
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Learning to speak French?

I work for a company that is growing internationally. It would be a great asset to me to learn to speak French. Out of desperation I'm asking for advice here. Has anyone here had to learn French from scratch, and how did you handle it?

Thanks for any help you can give me.
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Old 07-20-08, 03:03 AM   #2
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1. Pimsleur French I-IV (you can find these on teh internetz)



2. This book:



Now you just need about 1-2 hrs a day for 3 months.
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Old 07-20-08, 03:03 AM   #3
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The best way is to find someone bilingual and just spend a couple of hours every day speaking to them only in French. Couple that with some CDs that require you to perfect your pronounciation.

Speed and conversational idiomatic expressions are the toughest to handle and can only come from just speaking with a language partner. Spend some time in Montreal, as well, after you've got the basics down and that will be a great experience for you. A great deal of French Canadians are even in New Hampshire, as well.
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Old 07-20-08, 03:06 AM   #4
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Thank you so much, both of you. This could be a life-changing skill for me and your help is invaluable.
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Old 07-20-08, 03:09 AM   #5
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NH might be a bit of a hike :-P I agree with the above statements. Craigslist or look in the paper for a french group. I have often found weekly meetings of people who get together that just want to speak french. Might be helpful. Plus might just meet some people who can help you out too!

Anyone know anything about Rosetta Stone? I have heard much about it. I too want to pick up french again, was once near fluent when I was a kid but forgotten everything.
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Old 07-20-08, 03:20 AM   #6
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Thank you, Pretty Much Canada. My brother-in-law is Canadian. I think I might hit up the French teacher at the local high school and see about tutoring.

I work in a town called Cape Girardeau, but still there are few French speakers here. So it goes in middle America.
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Old 07-20-08, 03:33 AM   #7
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The folks over at LVMH group, Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton know how to get their people speaking the language quickly. Just go in to one of their stores and ask a manager.

Keep in mind that you are dealing with a culture first, a language second.
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Old 07-20-08, 03:41 AM   #8
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I never would have thought of that, thanks. There must be a Louis Vuitton presence in St. Louis, I'll look there.
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Old 07-20-08, 03:51 AM   #9
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If you don't mind, specifically what do you mean about culture opposed to language? Aside from learning the language I'm curious to know how French and American culture differ because the people I'll be dealing with speak English fluently even though they're in Paris. I'd like to avoid making an ass of myself if possible.
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Old 07-20-08, 04:19 AM   #10
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There are times when the French, in a business meeting setting, like the Japanese need to converse in their language privately. It's a good idea to let people know in some way, a greeting perhaps, that you know the language prior to them discovering it by accident.

That said, I've heard of a number of situations where a group head will speak French even if they know you are trying to learn the language in order to isolate the conversation. This sometimes gets unpopular with some folks that are trying to get the whole company to just speak English.

It is very often very appreciated that you are trying to learn the language, but it is important that you communicate that you are not yet fluent and may find it very difficult if they speak quickly. For example, what I often say is:

"je ne pas parle courement le francais", which off the top of my head may or may not be correct, but communicates that you are not fluent.

Sometimes people will just get incredibly annoyed and frustrated at you that you are "slowing them down" and trying the language. Do not take this personally; it is a kind of pride that many may have of the language.

Also, it is very important to to understand where to be use the formal "vous" and the informal "tu". This you cannot pick up from a book or CD, but from how people just speak to each other in your particular company. I know a company like LVMH is far more formal than perhaps a company like Mavic that is working with resellers and distribution.

Anyway, good luck with this beautiful language...
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Old 07-20-08, 04:35 AM   #11
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Thanks, that will help me out quite a bit.
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Old 07-20-08, 04:55 AM   #12
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Harry,

Late to the thread, look up Alliance Francaise for your area, if there are French people around then there is usually a chapter of this. These are groups for French people living abroad. Be careful though some of these groups can be very snooty and up tight but you'll usually find some people willing to help you out with practicing ...

Try to get a human being to talk with to practice, learning just out of a book/CD will lead to what is called book french. It's grammatically correct but native speakers will cringe at you when you speak. It's things like tu/vous as SteveSurf said but also the intonation and flow of your speech. French, like Italian is an almost musical language when spoken, it can really be beautiful done right.

Again as SteveSurf said, it's definitely a culture first, and I'm talking French from France here, the older people tend to be a pretty uptight and proud group of people (I'm married to a French woman, and worked with a lot of French people) and some will be insulted that you are butchering their beautiful language but overall they will appreciate that you are trying and will help. Start by trying to use it outside of formal meetings, it's easier on the flow until you're better at it.

Hope this helps ...

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Old 07-20-08, 05:10 AM   #13
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Thanks Berardino, that helps too.
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Old 07-20-08, 05:36 AM   #14
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www.meetup.com has many casual "language clubs" in major cities, where they usually have weekly or bi-weekly social hang outs at pubs/etc

at least youre in jackson MO and not jackson MS.....
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Old 07-20-08, 05:42 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Stone View Post
I work for a company that is growing internationally. It would be a great asset to me to learn to speak French. Out of desperation I'm asking for advice here. Has anyone here had to learn French from scratch, and how did you handle it?

Thanks for any help you can give me.
Rosetta Stone FTW!
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Old 07-20-08, 07:38 AM   #16
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No amount of CD or classroom training will be enough to become conversationally fluent, you must find someone to speak with an hour or two at a time as mentioned earlier. Once you gain an initial written understanding, then subscribe to an uncomplicated French language periodical like Reader's Digest or Ici Paris (think national enquirer) to work on grammar and vocabulary, but you must start asap and continue for a long time with some sort of regular verbal dialog or your ears will never arrive.

It may also help reduce your frustration factor in the business setting if you read French or Foe (usually about $15 in paperback). It reads like a novel but explains many stereotypical but critical parts of the "culture" comments in earlier posts. You'll be less likely to quit your job during the get-acquainted period if you take an hour to read that book first.
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Old 07-21-08, 09:26 AM   #17
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Don't bother with Quebecois dialogue. Screwy dialect, and European dialect will be understood in Quebec, not so much the opposite.
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Old 07-21-08, 03:59 PM   #18
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French was the first language I ever learned, but then I forgot it. Several years later, I tried to relearn it but gave up. I did make significant progress in relearning it, and now I can generally comprehend it. I did private lessons, which helped immensely. My advice would be to first focus on speaking it, and focus on grammar/literacy in general later.
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Old 07-21-08, 04:00 PM   #19
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Oh and if you don't know what a word is, just say the English word in a french accent; 60% of the time, you'll be right. No, I am not kidding.
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