Any tips before I pack my bags and live in Paris for a year?
To preface, I'm 15 years old and in 10th grade. My parents decided it would be a good idea to send me to France for a year to improve my language skills, which I more than willingly accepted :)
I've been studying French in school for around 3 years (since I was 13), and feel that I'm sub-conversational. I can say simple stuff like "Typiquement, je n'aime pas les carnavals, parce que ils regardent très intimidant".
I'll be staying with a host family, and will be attending school (en français, manifestement). I plan to communicate with locals and people in cafés, bibliotèques, avec mes camarades du classe, etc.
Any cultural tips before I get there? I don't care how small it is, I want to know.
Also, how much should I expect to see my French improve while there? (all French classes, talking with native speakers all day, being surrounded by French media and signs, for an entire school year (about 200 days, factoring in vacations.)
You should get to know the people of Paris, and the feel of Paris. ;) Pretend that you are a Parisian citizen, and get to know lots of people! I guarantee you'll get a lot better at French!
1 thing that you need to know is that no matter how good you are at french it'll take a while to understand what native french people are saying because they speak pretty fast in normal conversation and sometimes words are tough to hear for people who have been exposed to normal french conversation.
Yeah, if you have any relatives you could practice talking to them, or you could simply tell them that you are not a native speaker of French, and you would like them to slow down. :)
French that you've learned and "real" French are almost two different languages. :)
You have to prepare yourself because French people, especially teenagers, use a LOT of slang words (that even I sometimes can't understand and I'm French..) so don't be discouraged if you get lost easily when they speak. Just tell them! And try to listen to as much French music as you can and watch French movies if you don't already because spoken French can be really tricky sometimes. If you interact a lot with native speakers, you'll improve SO much in a year! It's such a great opportunity, you're really lucky to be able to do this!
There are a few tumblr posts if you look up "french slang" (like this one : http://frenchaise.tumblr.com/post/155421615322/french-slang-words or http://polyglottraveler.tumblr.com/post/148976785701/french-slang-masterpost ). But be careful because a lot of things are kind of rude so only use them with people you are really close with. And also if you want French songs to listen to, I made a playlist on YouTube, you can check it out here : https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVYe-iFUf0j-BV-gFogl7Qg1BY07qYaUJ ! Hope it helps!
You're going to love Paris once you adjust to the rhythms of daily life. As others have said, make sure always to say "Bonjour" to the staff when you go into a small shop. Get to know a little about recent French history and current affairs. It will help you to understand news programs on TV better. Family life is very important in France, and teenagers are on the whole closer to their families than they are here in the USA. So expect to be introduced to a lot of your new friends' parents and siblings! Write down their names! Oh, and a lot of younger French people will want to practice their English with you, so be prepared to shift back and forth. You are going to have a great time. Bonne chance!
Not really language related, but learn about the history of France and Paris as much as you can, discover what interests you, and explore what interests you as much as you can. Interested in WW2? You can take a day trip (or even better weekend) out to Normandy to see Omaha beach. Interested in art? You'll want to take quite a few visits to the Louvre (do this regardless!), Musée d'Orsay (also do this regardless!) or L'Orangerie. People have been living in France for over 40, 000 years and it is an incredibly interesting place. If you can make it to the south of France you could visit some of the ancient paleolithic cave paintings like Peche Merle, and if you can't make it to the south of France, the Musée de l'Homme is a great way to learn about France's deep prehistoric past in Paris. I saw as much as I could in my 4 weeks there, but now there's so much more I wish I could've seen, both in Paris and the surrounding area.
As for language, it's going to be difficult at first, but stick with it and you'll be able to expand your conversational ability. I live in Montreal and it can take years for anglophones to get used to understanding conversational French. Don't let this discourage you though, you will learn an incredible amount and become a much better speaker by the end of your trip.
If you are interested in the Middle Ages, there is a castle now under construction called Guédelon, in the Departement of Yonne in Burgundy, south of Paris. Open to visitors in the summer, it is a castle being built using 13th century building techniques. Perhaps this would be a good "getaway" for you and your host family, or a class trip.
I suspect this might not be exactly what you're looking for, but one of the things I like most about visiting France is the bread and the cheese!
I hope this isn't too much a derail, but I'm just wondering about your example - is this the right way to say it?
"parce que ils regardent très intimidant"
It should definitely be "qu'ils", and I think "intimidants". But also I thought "regarder" can only mean the carnivals are doing the looking (i.e. it means "looks at"). I would say "parce qu'ils semblent très intimidant", but I'd be interested to know if you can also use "regarder" here.
Lucky you! I would have given ten years of my life for that opportunity when I was in 10th grade.
Don't be afraid to do some of the touristy stuff. If you're near Paris, two of my favorite places to visit are Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sainte-Chapelle. If you go to Notre Dame, don't miss the bell tower tour. The day I went, the tops of the towers were closed due to high winds, but I did get up inside the bell towers themselves. There's a terrific view of the city from up there, not to mention all the architecture and history. I liked it better than the Eiffel Tower (but that's pretty cool too).
Take your time in restaurants and cafes. Culturally, they expect you to savor and enjoy your meal, while for example in America the wait staff pretty much wants you to eat up and leave so they can get someone else using that table ASAP. On my first trip to France I made the mistake of asking my waiter for the check, and the other waiters started making fun of him for not moving fast enough... I was in too much of a hurry, but I didn't realize that until later on. On my next trip, I did a better job of "pacing myself" to suit the French style.
Most of all, embrace and enjoy the differences between France and wherever your home is. That's one of the best ways to get the most out of your travels.
Whatever you do, don't be afraid to make mistakes. You will make mistakes. Heaps of mistakes. It's all a part of the learning process. Just practice. In big international cities, like Paris, so many people speak English (or at least try to) that it is easy to use English as a default language. Don't.
Before you go, check out some French ETC podcasts. They are really good advanced French conversation podcasts, providing realistic topics (many cultural based) and often include informal/slang vocabulary.
Bon voyage et amuses-toi bien! Tu vas kiffer grave :)
One more thing - learn to eat with a knife (in addition to a fork in the other hand, of course), if you don't already.
AND since the legal drinking age is 16, if you are ever part of a toast, always make eye contact when the two glasses touch.
Bon - je pense que ça suffit la. Bon courage!
Merci. Bon à savoir.
I don't plan to drink in France, since l'alcool n'est pas ma tasse du thé (sans jeu de mots)
Hopefully you will actually get to see some of France outside of Paris. I know too many people that only go to Paris and then think that they know France. Paris is beautiful, but it remains a big international city. Paris is Paris, it just so happens to be in France. France is a country flourishing with regional specialities, that just so happens to have Paris as its capital.
Also, be aware of gypsy scammers. When that sweet looking woman walks past you and about 30 seconds later she runs up to you with a ring that she found and wants you to have... but then she starts to go on about how she wants everybody to be lucky, so she suggests that you give her some money. win-win, right? you get the ring she gets a little money. don't fall for it, no matter how sweet or helpless she appears to be.