Relearning a language

I took three years of French in high school (about ten years ago) and have forgotten a fair share of it. I’m planning trips to both Montreal and Paris in the next few months, and want to brush up on it.

Can anyone recommend a good French language course (book, tape, CD) as a refresher? I understand the language as far as conjugation, vocabulary, gender, etc., but I just need to brush up on it. In the bookstores, there are dozens of learning kits, and I just don’t know which to go with.

Any personal experiences to share? Thanks in advance.

Are you trying to relearn French (or any other language) to speak it fluently or do you just want to get by on vacation?

If the latter, the Berlitz for Travelers series are usually pretty good. I’ve used them for Spanish (which I know fairly well) and Japanese (which I didn’t know at all).

Watching French films helps a lot, since you can follow along with subtitles.

I have a few motives for wanting to relearn French. The most immediate is being a tourist for a few days in Montreal and Paris.

But, I’m also wanting to be competent in the language to keep up a conversation in French (which I used to be able to do), as well as carry on a correspondence via e-mail with a friend of mine in France (her English is infinitely better than my French).

Utimately, fluency would be great. I already watch a bunch of French films, and yes, that’s how I kept what little French I do remember from Monsieur Robinson’s class in 1989.

Peut etre vous pouvez participer sur une systeme sur l’internet (pour exemple, une babillard) qui est entierment en francais. Ca vous donnerais d’experience, et c’est gratuit!

  • Tim (from Montreal)

Bonne chance! Si tu as déjà été capable de faire la conversation en français, tu vas sûrement être capable d’y revenir facilement. J’allais suggérer d’aller sur Internet, mais je crois comprendre que tu veux améliorer l’aspect français verbal. J’espère que tu sais que la variété de français parlé au Québec est assez différente de la variété parisienne. :slight_smile:

De toute façon à Montréal il est toujours possible de se débrouiller en anglais, mais je suis sûr que ton effort sera apprécié, mais ne soit pas surpris si la plupart des gens à qui tu parles te répondent en anglais. Ma blonde (petite amie), de descendance irlandaise ne cesse de se plaidre qu’elle ne peut pas pratiquer son français parce que tout le monde s’accomode à parler anglais avec elle. Quelle ironie!

Only humans commit inhuman acts.

You may feel a little peculiar about doing this, but I found the best way to freshen up my French skills when I needed them was to start having conversations with myself, in French, in my head. It does remarkable things for your agility, though of course it doesn’t help your grammar. And don’t say anything out loud or people will think you are a little weird.

It only hurts when I laugh.

Je suis d’accord avec Momotaro. Bien que ton effort de parler français à Montréal serait apprécié, c’est pas absolument necessaire.

Histoire amusant: un soir j’étais avec mon chum francophone-québécois-de-souche, et la serveuse a changé à l’anglais avec lui, pas avec moi!

In Paris, of course, it is highly necessary to speak French or risk being an Ugly American. The famed Parisian rudeness evaporates entirely with a determined and sincere attempt to speak French. I speak near-fluent French and was never treated rudely even by waiters. (Rumour has it though that this is becoming less stringent with the European Community and all. The signs in the Metro are in French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese.)

Specific advice? I dunno. Maybe buy one of those Berlitz tapes.

Is anybody surprised that signs in Paris are also written in German? :wink:

–Da Cap’n

Pour quoi est qu’il y a tout le monde dans le merde de chien du jour? Qu’est que c’est? Je ne sais pas peut etre le baisez-vous nous sommes que voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir! Sacre bleu!
Sorry. I’ll take any excuse to write bad french. :wink:

“For what a man had rather were true, he more readily believes” - Francis Bacon

Hostie d’merde que tu parles français comme une vache espagnole! Crisse-moi le camp, ciboire, espèce de tête-carrée! T’as rien à foutre avec nous-autres comme on est pure-laine tissée tricotée de souche, hostie d’tabernacle d’calice!

Sorry, I need to take every opportunity I can to practice my Québécois swearing. Translation on request.

Montfort, ou habites-tu? Je te conseillerais de voir s’il y a un club francais dans les environs. S’il y a un college ou une universite pres de ton domicile, tu peux demander a un des professeurs ou etudiants s’ils connaissent des francais.

Des fois on peut trouver un club de l’Alliance Francaise, ou simplement des gens qui se reunissent regulierement pour parler francais.

J’ai assez vécu pour voir que différence engendre haine.

Well, apparently I need more help than I thought. I was able to understand only about half of what you all said in French. (Thank god for Altavista Babelfish)

But, I guess I should’ve made my OP a bit more clear. I’m figuring that a language pack (book and tape/CD) is my best bet. So far, the only suggestion is the Berlitz for Travellers kit. There are dozens of different ones at the bookstores; does anyone have any experience with any other brands? Thanks again.

Oh, I live near Washington, DC.

Gee, Matt, I dunno. I done took some of them French classes and I can talk a little basic Frenchy, but not real good. Done been to Paris a few times. Talked to them people in Frenchy and threw in a couple of them “Monsieurs” and “s’il vous plaits” and damn, didn’t have no trouble at all. Hell, them croissant-gobblers seemed to like me and all.

if you go to Paris and behave like a reasonable person and remember that you have to be a little more formally polite than Americans usually are, you’ll be fine. If you manage to remember such phrases as “Je ne parle pas bien le français. Parlez-vous anglais?”, the guys down at the bar will buy you a drink. The same advice will stand you in good stead in any other country you happen do visit…be reasonable, be courteous, and learn a few phrases in the language of the place where you’re going.