Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

When you think about or plan your move to France you think of Paris.  You think of the City of Lights, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe.  And maybe you think about speaking and/or learning French.

Depending on your age and your level of determination you may find learning French relatively easy.  It’s not the easiest language to learn but it’s not the hardest either.  The best way to learn, however, is to use the language actively.  Speak French whenever you can.  If not, listening to the radio or watching French shows (or your favourite US shows dubbed in French) certainly helps.

But how do you test your listening comprehension?  This isn’t highschool after all so there is no written test.  There is no exam to show that you didn’t really understand what madame was saying.  Well, I have a tip for you:  go to Provence.

There is nothing like a good provençal accent to make you realize that you don’t really know French.  It can be quite demoralizing actually.  I remember the first time I came to France with D.  During that trip two years ago I met friends of les parents.  It was a whirlwind meeting.  They came to visit with the intention of meeting me and I, trying to recover from my jet lag, was trying to be polite.  Yes, I’m blaming everything on jet lag because I can.  I could only sit there and look at these warm and friendly people who were speaking a language as incomprehensible to me as Cantonese.

This wasn’t French.  I had many French teachers through my school and university years.  Most were educated in France meaning they had a standard French accent.  This was not like those French classes.  This verbal assault was not taught in school.  Simple, everyday words like demain (tomorrow) or maintenant (now) took on a whole new twist.

And it’s not just the words, it’s the pace at which they machine-gun fire the words at you.  Luckily for me, I had D with me who was another target for their fire.  Yes, lucky I said…until he told me that sometimes he doesn’t understand what they’re saying either.  What?  You mean other French people don’t get it either?  Where is the hope, I ask?

The hope is that eventually you’ll get it; I certainly am getting it.  After two years of regular visits where French is always spoken, my ability to listen and to comprehend this language has improved considerably.

Sure, I still have my moments when I’ll tune out conversations but those moments are fewer than before.  Happy listening!

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Categories: French, language

Author:Tanya in Transition

I am a woman in transition. I left my job of 13 years to find happiness and self-fulfillment...in France!

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2 Comments on “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?”

  1. May 17, 2010 at 1:18 AM #

    Oh, it’s so good to hear that Tanya! I didn’t know a word of French before I came here and I’m learning in the land of rapid fire French. I still can’t listen to a regular conversation (with people speaking at their normal speed) and understand. And the Marseille accent is….well…it’s just impossible! Good luck in Nice!

    • May 23, 2010 at 8:50 PM #

      Thanks Delana. And, with a little practice and time I know that we’ll eventually get this language down pat.

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