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How to Speak French as She Is Spoken


As opposed to 1977 high school French, which was good enough to get me out of college requirements but too dusty and stilted for upcoming jaunt to Paris with sophisticated, adventurous-but-Frenchless husband:
  1. Buy a car. Turn car into language lab with all-audio Living Language instruction tapes. Be not afraid to mispronounce—after all, if you overtrill your r's and there's no one there to hear it, have you really butchered the language? Play tape whenever in car, repeat when told to repeat, and don't skip to shopping and restaurant lessons. You might need to call someone's téléphone cellulaire or recuperate from a day of pounding the pavement with a cours de yoga.

  2. Go to France. Delight in how rarely les Fran├žais switch to English when speaking to you, and how easy it is to ask if the Camembert is ripe enough to eat tonight or whether that ravissant chemisier also comes in aubergine. Notice how infrequently you and your husband get testy with each other.

  3. Feel great satisfaction at end of trip (except for frisson of regret that you were never able to work that idiom for sleep—le dodo—into conversation).
—Lise Funderberg

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