please empty your brain below

In my experience, all those foreign-language classes spent role-playing are useless. The first time I went abroad (OK, to Germany, rather than France), and after studying the language for seven years, I could discourse fluently on nineteenth-century literature and eighteenth-century philosophy, but still hadn't even the faintest idea how to to ask for directions to the nearest phone box.

i thought i was fluent in french til i went to paris. was converted from 'phile to 'phobe within a matter of hours, never spoken a word since.

still geez, bet you spent more than 63p...

It's down to confidence I think. I resolutely failed my French o-Level (I got a "U") but am always able to give it a go..... some will refuse to understand but most appreciate the effort. I actually hate it when they answer in perfect English and won't even let you try.

I've been amazed how much more pleasant French classes are as an adult learner. It's been 15 years since I had to conjugate "avoir", but it's a lot more fun now.

As a school child in some random French port I recall screwing up all my courage and, with the encouragement of friends, approaching two friendly ladies to enquire 'pour aller le toilette, s'il vous plait?' only for the reply to be 'don't speak French luv, we're just tourists'. They were terribly flustered, and my ability to attempt to speak French to French people was going forever.

Jean-Paul and Marie-France...Ah, I remember them well

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