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
Well done! It's a great reminder that even if your language isn't perfect, don't be afraid to talk to a native!
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.
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.
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.
Intrigued - what would Plan B be? A tranquilizer dart you were smuggling through customs? ❛¿❛
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.
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.
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!!!!
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!
@Songve I was thinking about the same thing. As Americans, we aren’t really encouraged to learn other languages.
Ironically, you're called a racist if you feel this way in the united states.
Bravo Bryan. A good read. Getting the gist of any conversation is the way to go!
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.
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!
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..
Excellente! J'ai parle francais pour quatre anees. Felicitation pour votre accomplissement! Haha well I tried (:
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.
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
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.
Thanks for sharing your story. I can only imagine how you felt. Those small victories lead to greater things. Have a Lingot.
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.
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).