Speaking French

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Many of us believe that foreigners should speak English. When we go on holiday some expect that everyone should understand English despite the fact that the Britons are the visitors.

Some intriguing research commissioned by Jetcost in France reveals that the French believe that foreigners visiting their country should be able to speak French. Not necessarily fluently but more than a “oui” or a “non.” Making the effort is the important thing. And that is something we may not be doing either because we feel we might be embarrassed by wrong pronunciation or using the wrong words.

That, according to Jetcost, might irritate the French even more. Among the respondents who admitted feeling offended by the fact that tourists do not speak a word of French when in France, (73%) admitted to being able to exchange a minimum in another language when they are themselves on holiday abroad.

Flip the situation around and Britons feel the saame way. Britons think that the French (and Germans, Spanish and any other non-English speaker visiting the UK should be able to speak a few words of English.

As the ski season, the coach trips to Christmas markets and to light shows is under way, how many of us will speak a few words in the language of the country we are visiting?

It isn’t as though it is difficult to download or copy from the front of a dictionary a dozen or so useful phrases that we can use.

It is an axiom of thinking about the British ( and Americans) that we are bad at languages and expect everyone to speak English. Thos schoolchildren taking language options in schools have been dropping so how we do persuade people that they should earn a few words in a few languages? I remember that question being asked in the 1960’s when I was at school and it has been asked almost every couple of years since.

There is still no answer.

Until then the French have a right to be a little exasperated with us.

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