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Learn To Speak Basic French - Be A Good Tourist!

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 2

If you are planning to travel through Quebec or any other region that speaks French, it wouldn't hurt to learn to speak basic French. Now before you panic and thoughts of earphones and day and night of "Learn to speak French" CD's come to mind, you don't have to go that far.

But as a recent tourist of the Gaspe Peninsula, in Quebec, Canada, we learned to speak basic French very fast. Now when I say "learn to speak basic French" it is just that. "Basic". If you can learn the names of objects in French, and can say what it is you want in one French word, then the person you are talking to, especially in a store, or a coffee shop, for example, will fill in the verbs and adjectives for you! Even if it means pointing. But at least if you know the object name it is a good start.

Unless you are planning to learn to speak French, you don't have to know all the verbs and adjectives and get all complicated. Just find out either with a French English dictionary or online, words such as "coffee". Which of course is "café" If you want it black, then that is "noir" no sugar? Either "sans sucre" or "non sucre" But even if all you knew was "café" they can point to everything else and you can nod or say no!.

What we found would happen, is that they would hear you try to speak French and if they could even speak just limited English, between your limited French and their limited English and some hand signals, you will do just fine.

The area we were travelling in is a tourist area, but mostly for other Quebec residents, but they thought our attempt at French was "cute". Especially my hubby who has a English/Scottish accent to begin with.

So, try and pick up a few words in French for things you will know you will need or want, such as food or coffee. A lot of the younger people know some English, and are very friendly and willing to help and want to practice their English. When paying, just look at the cash register total, unless you want to learn numbers in French!

If you are driving around Quebec, then you should learn to speak some basic French or at least read some, as you will need to know road signs. Most are the same shape such as the stop signs. If you pick up a road map from the tourist center, it will list all the road signs in French and English to help you along.

I personally found it better to stay away from a "drive through" type coffee shop or fast food, since if your French is limited, you need to be face to face, just in case you need to point at anything, and you don't want to be holding up the line or end up with something you didn't order!.

We managed to have complete conversations with the hotel clerk, with our limited French and her limited English. We were able to figure out what each other was saying, we just took it slow.

But it was a girl who worked in a hotel that told me, if you want to learn basic French, at least learn object names, then half the battle of trying to figure out what you want is fought. If you can say the object name in one word, then they can usually figure out what you want to do with it.

So, learn to speak basic French, don't stress, you will figure out many things fairly quickly. It is worth it, to see the beautiful sites of the Gaspe Peninsula and learn about the great history there. We totally enjoyed it.


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Comments

Jul 22, 2010 9:22am
divaonline
Excellent point. We had the same experience in Paris. They are very friendly and helpful if you show you're making an effort to speak their language.
Jul 26, 2010 9:21pm
KevinMarx
Yes, South America's the same. Very warm and outgoing, even more so if you make the effort.
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