Parlez vous Français?

french-flag

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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