Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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4 Funny Things That Happen When You Learn A Second Language

Language-learning-french

Am I fluent because I know all of these words ūüėČ Am I?

1. You start to have really bizarre dreams, half in your language, half in the language you’re picking up. My last one involved explaining the rules of baseball in French to Chris Farley (R.I.P.) I like baseball, go to games, but it’s definitely not something I’d discuss with Chris Farley. Unless he liked the White Sox.

2. You become a pseudo-etymologist.¬†Word origins used to lull me to sleep. Not anymore. Does “hommie” comes from the French word for man (homme)? I think it does. I think I might be a genius because of this fascinating discovery. Coupons, definitely from the French word couper for cut. And probably the most exciting moment of my life was when I learned that prom comes from se promenade, which in French means taking someone for a walk. Sure, that’s what those teenagers are doing.

3. You stalk other speakers of the language you’re learning. In Quebec, everyone speaks French all the time, so I didn’t realize how hard it would be to keep it up here. Now if I hear someone speaking French, I follow them down the street and telepathically hope they’ll turn around, lost and ask for directions. Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Frank goes into the nail salon to spy on what they’re saying about Elaine? That’s kind-of happened to me on the train and it makes all of this time and dedication worth it.

4. You hang around people you have nothing in common with¬†just to practice. I like most of the French speakers I’ve met through MeetUp.com. But it’s not like me to wake up early on a Sunday, drive twenty miles to sit with a group of strangers, most of whom are either fresh-out-of-college francophile singles, probably looking for their l’amour or just about to retire and “summering” in Paris. It appears that all the thirty-somethings are hibernating.

There aren’t many people like me at these meetups or in the classes. I’m a person who learned French in Canada and whose highest intellectual feat is recalling specific episodes of 90210 at a pub trivia. These people went to Yale and studied mathematics (gulp), work at Microsoft, and picked up French as their fifth language just for funsies.

Summer side note:

You may wonder why I am not updating as frequently. Don’t worry. I don’t plan to go anywhere, especially not after investing $30 in a customized design. However, the truth is… I don’t have as much to say right now. Summer sunshine compels me to go outside. ¬†I’ve also been freelancing full-time, not traveling enough, and suffering from internet-exhaustion.

Excuses, excuses.

I promise my next post will be soon and it won’t be as Buzz Feed-like. Happy Fourth of July!

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My War Against Weak Words

Bees pollination lavendar

Just a wee bee. Aren’t we all?

I decided to eliminate a number of words and phrases from my vernacular.

I think

I will never write “I think” in a work-related email again. I didn’t realize how weak it made me seem. Especially if I use it when I don’t think, I know. Would you rather take directions from someone who said, “I think the store is that way” or, “the store is that way?”

French eliminated superfluous words from my vocabulary, because well, my French vocabulary is so limited. In French, I will say, Oui! After everything. When I am explaining something, most of the “likes” are replaced with “uhhh” as I struggle to find the word in French. If I let an “uhhh” linger too long, the person will just start speaking English to me. That feels like getting kicked in the chins.

I did get in a bad habit of saying, “Je pense.” Beaucoup.

Ps. did you know, ponce (how I want to spell it) is British slang for a pimp?

Think about I Think in a professional context. Who wants I Think Sheryl managing a department or business? ¬†“I think we’re about to go bankrupt.” “I think we should lay-off Jerry.” “I think this ad campaign will get us more revenue.” Way to fill us all with confidence there. Continue reading


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Eat, Pray, Learn: Second Language Tips

eat pray love

 

And learn what this says. 

 

Before I arrived to Quebec, I didn’t learn survival French. I figured to just wing it and use a French accent with all of my English. Bad idea. Nothing enrages a group of people faster than mockery, whether it’s intended or not.

Now that I am finally approaching that point when people are starting to speak LESS English to me, I have a couple tips.

  1. Think in the language: The faster you start doing this, the easier actually speaking becomes.¬†Do what I do and start making mean comments about people in your head in your adopted language. “Oh mon dieu! Il ponce il est la premiere person qui peux conduire la voiture.” Yeah, that’s what a really limited insult sounds like in my mind. I know – it’s probably misspelled.
  2. Master pronunciation first:¬†Listen. Really hear the way the words glisten on the Native speaker’s tongue. Practice your phonetics. Even if you have an extensive vocabulary and can conjugate like a mo-fo, no one will understand you without correct pronunciation. I have to work at this. It’s French, a language built to sound like music and I am tone-deaf.
  3. Get over yourself:¬†Accept the fact that you’re going to sound like a bumbling fool for some time. Stop trying to be perfect and just start talking. It is very uncomfortable but if you look and sound super confident, people will think you know what you’re talking about.
  4. Use Livemocha! You can record reading, writing, and speaking (!!) exercises and send them to native speakers for feedback. And then you get to review their stuff in English. I am in love with this living language exchange.
  5. Join a conversation group: I hate talking to strangers in general. But after I signed on for a conversation group, I found it much less intimidating. The people will keep speaking French to you, so there’s not that humiliating moment when they switch to English because your “Bonjour” sounded more like a “Womp-waa” (imagine a frowny face emoticon after this).

Make it fun and remember it’s like climbing a mountain. One day, you’ll just get there ¬†– until then, keep going.

 


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Three things that fill me with rage

People that won’t SHUT THE FUCK UP about study abroad.

european train system study abroad

We get it. You took the train abroad and it was orgasmic.

I have never studied abroad, so I don’t really understand the need to act like you have some intimate knowledge/understanding of a country when all you did was drink wine, do ecstasy, and have sex with random strangers you met on the train. Oh the trains. Oh how everyone loves the trains.

Of course, you love the trains in Europe. And the food. And the men. What’s not to love? We get it. You spent three months, 10 years ago, traveling with your friends on a credit card your parents gave you.

That my friend, is not living abroad. Living abroad is spending what-would-be Thanksgiving at a government office trying to get a driver’s license, only to find out that you have no idea how to ask in French for this special form that customs never gave you. “The B-122 Form.” You need it. But what is it?

Moi: “…Encore sil-vous-plait.”

La personne: “Tu as besoin la feuille B-133.”¬†

Moi: “Quoi?!” (isn’t feuille – leaf. Why would I ‘have need’ for a leaf? Also, florescent lighting makes us all look like zombies and should be banned. Immediately.)

La personne:¬†Bienvenue¬†en enfer…

United Airlines

United Airlines bad customer service

found at Untied.com

I received the worst customer service of my life from United Airlines. They cancelled my flight for a mechanical issue, which probably meant the pilot had a hangover or a bad case of ass worms. When I called back the customer service rep said they reimburse for hotels and just book one and send the receipt to the refund department.

Lies. Continue reading


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A vacation home

expat travel blog

I didn't do that to the statue. Swear.

So, you know how good I was getting at French? I don’t know if I became bored with the intense vocabulary or just tired of trying to get that put the word in your nose thing down or if my brain went into overdrive but my French is now tres, tres, tres mauvais.

Before you correct me on my lack of accents realize that a) I am using an American keyboard probably made in China and b) I could give a fuck right now. Oh and c) I am on a petite vacanes from Francais classe.

I am going to New York in two days. I can order a bagel and say, “Can I get a bagel?” It’s going to be magical. Continue reading