Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Learn French Courses

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The following does not pretend to give you the in depth knowledge all the "how to learn French courses" would, but consider it a French appetizer.

To introduce yourself: “Bonjour, je m’appelle Steve”. Hello, my name is Steve. “Enchanté de faire votre connaissance” translates to “very nice to meet you”. “I am here on vacation” would be “je suis ici en vacances”. “Je suis américain (américaine for a girl)” is you guessed it: I am american. “Je suis ici pour sept (7) jours” means “I am here for 7 days”. “Je suis à l’hôtel du Pont” means “I am staying at the hotel du Pont”.

If you are lost in Paris and need directions. Don’t worry. French people have no problem asking and giving directions unlike here in the states where most men feel uncomfortable asking for them. Start with “Je cherche...” I am looking for... “je cherche la rue de la paix”. Expect the answer to be a combination of these : “A droite” (to the right)... “A gauche” (to the left) and finally “Tout droit”, straight ahead. Finish with “Merci beaucoup” (thanks a lot) and you will be on your way.

No matter where you are it’s important to be able to get what you want. “Je voudrais...” is going to be the magical phrase to get anything. Whether you want a train ticket: je voudrais un billet de train or a bottle of wine “je voudrais une bouteille de vin”, it will do the trick. Add the proper “S’ilvousplait” and you might not pass for a tourist... too much.

In a restaurant: “Je voudrais voir le menu” is “I would like to see the menu”. “Je voudrais un steak frites” is very handy to order a steak and fries, a common dish you will find in every French restaurant unless you are visiting an upscale establishment. “Quel est le plat du jour?” What is the special of the day? The check, please: “L’addition s’ilvousplait.” “Où sont les toilettes?” will come in handy if you can’t find the restrooms. Don’t forget that gratuity is included in France, no need to tip.

Just arriving at your hotel? No problem. “J’ai réservé une chambre” will let them know you have a reservation. “Je veux une chambre avec un grand lit (bed)” will make sure you end up with a queen size bed, the largest bed you can find in France. “Je vais vous régler” will let your host know you are ready to check out. Finally “Je cherche un bon restaurant” comes in handy to ask where you can find a good restaurant.

Need to go to a museum or visit the Eiffel tower? That’s easy. Ask for a taxi cab: Je veux un taxi”. Or you can use the subway, one of the best in the world. “Où est la station de Métro” to ask where the closest subway station is. If you don’t want to be underground but want to see as much as Paris as you can, take the bus. “Où est la station de bus s’ilvousplait?”

A few words about time. Be aware that they use military time in France. There is no am or pm. Just “quatre heures “ 4:00 am or “seize (16) heures” for 16:00, our 4 pm. “Quelle heure est-il?” and they will tell you what time it is. Dans combien de temps? And you will know in how much time...? “A quelle heure?” is “at what time?”

Conversation piece: You can always start with “How are you?” or “Comment allez vous?” “Comment ça va?” is the familiar way to ask, use only with people you know a little better. “Qu’est ce que vous faites?” is what are you doing now or what are you doing as a job, occupation. “Je suis très heureux de faire votre connaissance” is a long one but it just means “nice to meet you”. “A bientôt” is “see you soon”. “Voulez vous coucher avec moi?” is not recommended as it will only get you slapped.

If you are interested in learning more, there are some great "how to learn French courses" I can recommend. Rocket French is where I would start.

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