Parlez vous Français?


Non? Me neither. Well, at least not very well. Not. At. All. Four years in high school (two years were honours, no less) and four years in college/university (all honours too!) and I speak like a child. Worse than a child. Maybe it’s because I went to high school in the Midwest which, by all accounts, is not a hotbed for foreign languages of any sort let alone conversational French. And college/university? In the Washington DC metro area, but again, no practical use there either.

Surprisingly, I can read it pretty well. How well? This summer, I was in France for a week and had my confidence boosted greatly being in an area well outside Paris where I knew not everyone would speak English and most things I wanted to do would be in French and French only. I survived. I made it through complex museum exhibits (my ability to read is really very good), navigated around the city, and lived like a local in an Airbnb all with my abysmal spoken French! Woot!

Would mastering French at a semi-fluent level increase and/or improve my job prospects? It certainly can’t hurt. A quick bit of research online found several groups of language classes in my area and an assessment (plus additional learning opportunities) via Apprendre Le Français avec TV5Monde, a French TV channel, showed I was at the A2/B1 level. Not bad, I think. (Especially since I have the attention span of a gnat and got bored about 1.5hrs into the 2hr online assessment, so I was just randomly answering bits without much effort or thought.) In Europe, most employers want you to show proficiency at the B2 level (professional). C1/C2 is considered fluent/native.

If you’re in London, the Institut Français Royaume-Uni offers classes and official French government certification (for visa and immigration purposes) for both France and Quebec, Canada. The classes are a bit pricey IMO – so I went with French for Fun. They have lessons in locations around the country that work out to be about £13/lesson and I’m certainly learning much more than conjugating être and every other verb!


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