https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

How Duolingo helped me with French customer service in a store

I had to go to a store yesterday. Two months ago we moved to France from the states. I've not used French in nearly 30 years and had been busy preparing for the move, and didn't have as much time to work on my French in advance as I would have liked. Between the broken English of the person I was speaking to and understanding enough words of her French I was able to resolve a customer service issue. It may not sound like a big deal, but I felt really proud walking out of the store that I was able to use some words in French and recognize enough of the words she was using to get the gist. I never expect French people to speak English and feel that clearly the burden is on me (us) to learn French or whatever language is spoken in a country. It also made me feel good to know that while my French was far from perfect she was able to get the gist of what I was trying to say. I only had to revert to English for a few of the words I really had no idea what they would be. All in all it was a big win. I'd tried other language tools in the past but Duolingo is the one that holds my attention best. Merci Beaucoup

August 9, 2019

40 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Du0Wh0

Well done! It's a great reminder that even if your language isn't perfect, don't be afraid to talk to a native!

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

Merci, I think it's always better to at least try and be respectful of the culture etc. If it were something truly important that might be different, in this case I just needed to know what something hadn't been delivered.

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Songve

Glad to hear about your good attitude of "burden on me" to learn language of country you are living in. That is good for you, good for them and good for us in US, helps dispel the Ugly American meme.

And making honest efforts to use the language is appreciated by locals and you do not have to hit the ground running of being fluent. You build on it during your adventure.

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

One of the things that's a joy and a challenge is down here in the south of France there are a good number of ex-pats from all over the world (like myself). The majority of the French people don't speak English, it can be a challenge and exciting. One of my first really cool experiences was at a gare (train station) I was getting lunch before a voyage. The clerk understood English and French but they weren't all that busy and she kept encouraging me with my French waving her head no when I would try to revert to English and helping me with the French words until I put it all together in French. It's funny when I go into the train station now I look for her, but haven't seen her since my first time in the south of France. I wish I knew something about her to give her a big MERCI BEAUCOUP. One of the most challenging things for me with the French is they speak so softly in volume and I've noticed the loudest person in a room is usually an American here on holiday, and then I go in the other director or if they're having trouble I see if I can help them a little.

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Songve

Speaking of ex-pats, have you ever heard of an artist named R Crumb who did the "Keep on Trucking" cartoon? I think he moved to the south of France. If you have or ever bump into him, I sure would like to hear about it.

Yeah, loud Americans. I have seen that a few times. Worst case was when I was trying to find a flight out of Taipei before a huge typhoon hit. The crowd of people lined up at the reservation desk were mainly Asians. I was last in line. One person up front was shouting, screaming, banging his fists on the table and intimidating staff. Being a quiet American, I felt an obligation to so something about the ugly American. I went up to him and tried to reason with him. Good thing it worked so I didn't have to go to Plan B.

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/suellen007

Intrigued - what would Plan B be? A tranquilizer dart you were smuggling through customs? ❛¿❛

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Songve

My tranquilizer darts are my finger tips. I learned the Vulcan nerve pinch to instantly render a person unconscious. Ha, ha, just kidding but I did learn some techniques from a Korean Master of martial arts how to render a person calm in a couple of seconds. Don't believe people when they say Buddhists are all pacifists. Who do you think developed a lot of the martial arts practices today? I do follow the precept to do no harm to any sentient being but I feel I do harm by omission if I take no action to protect a weaker person.

BTW, if pressure points on nerves and both carotid arteries didn't work, I have Plan C: shakuhachi flute. It is both a musical instrument and club. When the samurai were told to hang up their swords, being musicians and poets as well as warriors, they figured out a work around. They used root end of bamboo and fashioned a flute. That became their primary weapon. If I would be challenged at the airport, I'd play them a song. If somebody tried to take over the airplane, I'd play a strong tune on their noggin.

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

I'm the quiet American who just rolls my eyes at the loud ones and tries to stay as far away from them as I can.

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Songve

In most cases, I agree that is the best course of action. In Asia, when you lose your temper in public, it is called "losing face" and you will earn instant disrespect of everyone around and ignored

In this case, the guy seemed to be escalating into possible physical level and I could not ignore that.

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SusanRankin1

When I was in France first time, I would WHISPER because I felt insecure about my accent and when people would say "Pardon" I thought they didn't understand me. Last trip I spoke out loud and brashly and I was congratulated on my French by several Parisiennes. BE BRASH!! It is the only way to push yourself into a new language!!!!

August 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

One of the difficulties I have with the French (yes stereotyping) is I have trouble telling when a stranger I can't see is speaking to me because they speak so soft. But I've found even at "American volume" speaking French or trying it as best you can often draws a big smile and often encouragement and a very friendly return. The most enjoyable thing for me so far is three days now in a row where they other person hasn't automatically switched to English. Today with a someone on my apartment floor I live on floor 10 of 10 in the building, I had a conversation with a woman from down the hall I'd never seen before. But I caught the key words she was using. :-) best feeling ever!

August 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FLchick

@Songve I was thinking about the same thing. As Americans, we aren’t really encouraged to learn other languages.

August 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

I think that's why I enjoy learning French of the little bit of Spanish I've picked up. No one expects it, so it's nice to surprise people when you don't just try and raise your voice (as if that gets people to understand what you were saying).

August 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TaylorBeck745440

Ironically, you're called a racist if you feel this way in the united states.

August 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Bravo Bryan. A good read. Getting the gist of any conversation is the way to go!

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

Merci

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JacobStill9

good job hope you learn more

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

Merci, sitting here learning French can get frustrating, but when I venture outside of our flat it's awesome when I speak it and don't try to translate in my mind in English what's going on but let it flow (correctly or even close) that's when I think to myself what a nice feeling it can be.

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SusanRankin1

We travelled for two months in Italy with just ME and my Duolingo Italian to assist us. The everyday boring or even annoying events, like being stopped by the cops in a routine traffic stop, were REALLY EXCITING in Italian. And I am proud to say that my DUOLINGO ITALIAN was totally up to the task!

August 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

It's a great feeling isn't it? (okay maybe not so much being stopped)

August 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DouglasRay12

Buffalo

August 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kelvin401862

Belle histoire, merci pour le partage.

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

Merci, normally I'm the quiet shy person who stands in the background stepping up and using French was such a win win

August 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/manifico7

From my experience, Duoling is, by far,the best way to learn a language... jusy don't miss any of the lessons! even if you think that it is too repetitive..

August 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

Repetitive is what I need, if I only did something once I probably wouldn't remember it.

August 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/niabruk

Excellente! J'ai parle francais pour quatre anees. Felicitation pour votre accomplissement! Haha well I tried (:

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

Tres bien!

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/niabruk

Merci beaucoup!

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KevinDenis6

Bravo à vous

August 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salade2fruits

Bravo ! You can be proud of you and I'm sure you'll be able to practice a lot here in France and so to improve your French.

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

I was amazed just through immersion I had already picked up as I've gone through on Duolingo. There have been so many times where I look at written French and I think that looks absolutely nothing at all what it sounds like. I think that's still my big stumbling block. When I tried another popular online language tool it was way to into the spelling, I thought I really want to be able to speak to people. This evening after dinner it was exciting to give a woman directions to where we had just eaten it was like the world wanted to give me one more oh yeah feeling. haha

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salade2fruits

Félicitations aussi pour avoir pu guider la dame. Well done. Yes I feel you concerning the way one language sounds which is different from the way it's written. I suppose it's one of the most important difficulties when someone is learning French. Keep improving. You have worked hard.

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

Merci, it's work hard or fail at living here for who knows how long. Sadly with all of the events in the states home feels like it's hopped the pond for good or at least a long time.

August 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FLchick

Thanks for sharing your story. I can only imagine how you felt. Those small victories lead to greater things. Have a Lingot.

August 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

Merci

August 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CalvinC.3

I have yet to get the chance to use any of the languages I've studied, unfortunately - not even French, which I have studied outside of Duolingo and is spoken a lot in my country.

August 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

Create it start speaking French to someone if it doesn't go well change languages. Until you give it a shot you've got nothing to gain and everything to lose. Just my 2 cents

August 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamRose739146

nice

August 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aki-Mugetsu

There are not so many English-speakers who learn French, so usually French people are quite happy to see that you are at least trying, even if you are not perfect. Seeing that it is difficult for you also makes them want to try, and that is how mutual respect is born (and helps both sides of communication).

August 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanOtt1

I could not agree more. I love the look on the face (in particular here in the south of France where English is probably a third language) when they see you attempting the coaching that they do, it makes me proud of humanity (even if they do understand English).

August 12, 2019
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