Practising French in Paris
It’s a common complaint from travelers in France – they want to practice their French, but the French just shrug and walk away, or they talk back in the visitor’s home language, so the opportunity to practice is lost. Either way, the experience is frustrating for the would-be linguist who must find another companion who is willing to listen and talk in French.
Quelle domage, someone willing to speak those magic words ‘mais bien sûr’ can be hard to find.
La Gare du Nord
Many visitors to Paris may have their first precious glimpses of Paris as they emerge from the Gare du Nord station. One of six major train stations in the city, the Gare du Nord is by far the busiest, serving an estimated 190 million passengers per year. Surely one of them will be willing to practice French with you?
But it can be harder to find someone than you think. Taxi drivers, hotel operators, and all manner of restaurateurs might be there at the station to greet you, but they are all very adept at waving their hands and guiding you towards their vehicle/hotel/eatery without once exchanging a word of French with you.
So once you have eaten something from the international tourist photo-menu that was thrust at you by the garçon in the restaurant opposite the station, then been driven to your hotel (where, of course, the receptionist speaks your language flawlessly), you decide to head off to see the sights.
But still, you have had no opportunity to practice your French, and you begin to realise that actually it’s quite hard to just start speaking out. You’re in a busy city, an international city, people are hurrying by and it’s not easy to tell whether they speak French or not – they could be a foreign visitor just like you.
Before long, you start to lose your confidence, and by the time you get to Le Louvre, with its massive galleries and thousands of overseas visitors every day, you feel a little overwhelmed and glad of the signs and guides in your own language.
Still you have not practised your French. But wait! There is a solution.
French language schools
Whatever level of language learning and speaking you are at, there will be a language school in Paris, which will provide you with all the opportunities you need to practise French with like-minded students who are as keen as you.
More information to learn French in Paris can be found here on any language college website, or you can phone and talk to them in French!