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Traveling abroad on your own?

  Tags: Europe | Travel | French
 Language Learning Forum : Immersion, Schools & Certificates Post Reply
18 messages over 3 pages: 13  Next >>
soclydeza85
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2093 days ago

357 posts - 502 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German, French

 
 Message 9 of 18
05 July 2014 at 11:40pm | IP Logged 
For what it's worth, my coworker went to Spain (northern, I believe) about a month ago. He speaks French but doesn't know any Spanish. He said he got around just fine using his French.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3195 days ago

3277 posts - 6778 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 10 of 18
07 July 2014 at 3:44pm | IP Logged 
Depends pn your goals

Is your primary goal to practice French? France, Belgium, Switzerland and to smaller extent Spain+Italy will
give you tons of opportunities and each is worth spending lots of time there. The rest of Europe:no.

Is your primary goal getting to know Europe more than from the usual touristy ways? Than get basics of
French+German+ a Central European language of your choice and you'll be much further than with French
alone. The sad thing is that English is much better in most European countries than any other of the large
languages alone. French is a popular L2 in many countries but people tend to speak it much worse than
others, for several reasons.
So, to enjoy the most of Europe and get at least good comprehension in many countries:
French or another large romance language will give you that huge language and understanding of the other
romance ones to surprisingly high level.
German gives you another bunch of awesome countries to explore and it is a much more popular L2 in the
countries of Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe than French. Among older people, it is even more
common than English.
One Slavic language, such as Polish will be extremely helpful. Sure, people learn English but many are not
good at it at all and you'll get lots of points for using basics of their language. There is extremely high
intelligibility among Czech and Slovak, and quite high among these two and others, like Polish or Croatian.
Much higher than between these languages and the eastern ones like Russian.
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Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 5342 days ago

4228 posts - 8254 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 11 of 18
07 July 2014 at 7:45pm | IP Logged 
Tyrion101 wrote:
Lately I've had the idea when I finally achieve fluency in French I'd like to travel to mainland Europe. My
brother and cousin both went after graduation and I've always wanted to go. Haven't decided where yet, but I
was wondering is French something I could use most places in Europe? I'm not going just to use my French,
but it would be a bonus. I'm also open to ideas as to where to visit.


On average, the number one foreign language in the EU outside UK and Ireland is English. See this table on pps. 96-7 from the European Commission's Study “Europeans and their Languages” (2006). German and French compete for a distant second place on average as the first foreign language known by respondents while Spanish comes in third place on average. This isn't too encouraging for you unless you look for Francophones or spend a lot of time in France, Luxembourg and the Francophone regions of Belgium and Switzerland; the use of French in the rest of Europe lags badly behind English no matter what the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie wants us to believe as might be inferred by the membership of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania, not to mention the observer status of several Eastern European countries).

What other languages you'll use in Europe depends on the following:

1) Which countries do you want to visit?
2) How long do you plan to visit these countries?
3) Do you plan to use hotels/hostels, airBnB, Couchsurfing or BeWelcome?


If you use hostels/hotels, expect to speak more English than anything else unless you run into a lot of travellers whose English sucks and/or staff whose English equally sucks. AirBnB is a little bit like Couchsurfing for a fee but you don't usually interact much with the people who will sublet their homes to you since all that they want is your money and assurance that you won't trash their place. With Couchsurfing or BeWelcome you can somewhat force yourself to use French if you end up staying with or meeting members who speak French.

Because studying a language takes time even to get yourself to a beginner's stage beyond the tourist's survival level, I'd just run on English and French. I assume that you're between 20 and 35 years old since you mentioned graduation (bachelor's, master's, doctorate?) in your post, and so you're most likely to hang out with Europeans of the same age group who in turn form the highest proportion of Europeans who can speak English in a useful way. I'd start to put serious effort in picking up a couple of other languages if those languages were sufficiently interesting to me on their own, if I were to get along well with native speakers of those languages and if had an unusually good time in places where those languages are used natively.
3 persons have voted this message useful



montmorency
Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3014 days ago

2371 posts - 3675 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Danish, Welsh

 
 Message 12 of 18
07 July 2014 at 9:06pm | IP Logged 
Tyrion101 wrote:
Lately I've had the idea when I finally achieve fluency in French
I'd like to travel to mainland Europe. My
brother and cousin both went after graduation and I've always wanted to go. Haven't
decided where yet, but I
was wondering is French something I could use most places in Europe? I'm not going just
to use my French,
but it would be a bonus. I'm also open to ideas as to where to visit.


I know it's tempting to want to see and do everything, but, say, why not try to really
"do" France well, and really get into the French language at the same time.

It's a large and varied country, so this is by no means limiting.

Then maybe go back and study German, and come back for Germany, Austria, a tiny part of
Belgium, Luxembourg, another part of Switzerland, and I think still a reasonable part
of Central & Eastern Europe.

...and so on.

And of course, your English will get you a long way as well, these days.

Edited by montmorency on 07 July 2014 at 9:08pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



Tyrion101
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2099 days ago

153 posts - 174 votes 
Speaks: French

 
 Message 13 of 18
08 July 2014 at 5:06am | IP Logged 
My idea, was to spend say a week, maybe two if I could afford it in one place soaking in the local culture, I've done the blazing speed travel, and found it to be interesting, but you never really got a feel for a place, and it was often disappointing to find a place I liked only to have to be off in a day. I also wanted at least one night under the stars as I'm an amateur astronomer, and since I'm going by myself I do not have to bore anyone with the evening of sky gazing.
1 person has voted this message useful



s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3616 days ago

2704 posts - 5424 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 14 of 18
08 July 2014 at 5:27am | IP Logged 
I'm certainly not one to discourage anyone from learning languages, but I think the idea of learning French to
fluency (sic) to spend a week or two in a French-speaking country soaking up local culture is a tad preposterous.
And then, as others have suggested here, learn two or three other languages to get around Europe, well, that's a
hell of a lot of work when English would probably do the job quite as well for just galavanting around.
1 person has voted this message useful



eyðimörk
Triglot
Senior Member
France
goo.gl/aT4FY7
Joined 2285 days ago

490 posts - 1157 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English, French
Studies: Breton, Italian

 
 Message 15 of 18
08 July 2014 at 9:03am | IP Logged 
I will, in some ways, second what both monty and s_allard are saying.

If you want to practice your French, spend more time in France. One week is no time at all. You won't even have time to soak up the local culture, much less have an overall French experience. Two weeks? Getting closer, but I've spent two weeks per summer in all kinds of French regions without really getting much of a feel for the culture. You, an adult on your own, could probably experience "more efficiently" than I could on family holidays, taking everyone's needs and desires into account, but two weeks, a single time, is still a snapshot. It's plain old tourism.

I get that many people can't afford to holiday for truly extended periods of time — I can't either — but if French is your goal, then why use much of your time being a tourist elsewhere? I also get that people coming from North America often like to try to squeeze in as much of Europe as possible in one trip, but it's generally done at a cost of having a remotely authentic experience.

Lastly, I don't know about you, but back when I was holidaying two weeks in France every summer with my family it usually took me about ten days to force myself into the speaking French mindset. That's four days of efficient language use (if my father egging me on to "Ask him how long this wine should be stored!" is efficient). Now, I didn't prepare in those days (although I did take French at school twice per week), which probably would have given me a chance to use more French. When I went again in my mid-twenties and was actively working on my French to try to improve before moving to France I got a few extra days of feeling less uncomfortable speaking. Everyone I know who took French in school recount similar experiences travelling here. You might be an exception, but I think it's all the more reason to make sure you don't skimp on your time in France.

If I were you, I'd pick three or so different areas of France to see, instead of several European countries, and make use of the TGV for travelling between those places. See the north, see the south, see Paris if you must. And if you want to be able to say you saw more of Europe on your trip, take a day-trip or two to Germany, Switzerland, Italy, or whatever. If you pick your locations wisely you'll get a varied French experience, and also easily be able to pop across the border to see something different.
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Tyrion101
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2099 days ago

153 posts - 174 votes 
Speaks: French

 
 Message 16 of 18
08 July 2014 at 8:15pm | IP Logged 
Well going to France was not the original idea, it was something that occurred to me lately. Besides I can't probably take off more than two weeks anyway. I do not like traveling at blazing speeds as while you get to see a lot its not as much fun as actually spending a few days in one place. Going to Europe is the main goal, using the French is secondary, and I've not even decided to go to France just yet.


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