Ten tips to add a little “Je ne sais quoi” to your holiday French!

If you’re not confident to speak French on holiday but want to show you are making an effort this is the guide for you! We asked our friends at Coffee Time French who are experts on teaching French in a relaxed friendly way, to give us their top 10 tips to help you deal with the language barrier on your next trip to France…

Chloé from Coffee Time French says “If you want to integrate quickly; to be able to order coffees and food, be polite and show that you are making an effort you need REAL French! These are 10 tips and phrases that helped me to feel like a local when I started learning, and using French in France…”

1: Change your face shape.

Look at how the French speak, they bring their jaws forward into a pout, try saying “Bonjour” normally and then with a pout and you’ll look and sound more French!

2: If you don’t understand, you can say…

“Désolé, je ne comprends pas/Je parle un peu en français/j’apprends le français.”
(Sorry, I don’t understand, I speak a little French, I’m learning French.)

3: If you are lost you can say…

“Excusez moi, je suis perdu. Je cherche les magasins.” (Excuse me, I am lost. I’m looking for the shops)

4: If you’d like someone to slow down and repeat you can say:

“Plus lentement s’il vous plait. Pouvez vous répétez s’il vous plait?” (Slower please, can you repeat that please?)

5: Learn this helpful phrase..

..“Ça marche” which literally translates as “That works”, meaning “ok”. You can use it for pretty much anything, complementing someone’s outfit and generally agreeing with someone.

6: How to ask for things:

“Je pourrais avoir (could I have)…” is very polite, “Je peux avoir (can I have), je voudrais (I would like), je prends… (I’ll take…)”

7: Ask Questions: What, Where, Which, Who

“Qu’est ce que c’est ça?” (what is that?) “Où sont les toilettes?” (where are the toilets?) “Quelle heure il est?” (which hour is it/what time is it?) “Qui est le patron?” (who is the boss?)

8: Saying thank you:

“Merci beaucoup/merci bien” (thank you very much). Saying you’re welcome; “Je vous en prie” and “Pas de soucis” (no problem).

9: Using the ‘vous’

As you probably know the French speak to people they don’t know using ‘vous’ ie: “Je vous en prie” and people they do know using ‘tu’ ie: “Je t’en prie”. In doubt, use the ‘vous’, it’s much more polite.

10: Just have a go!

French people will probably speak back to you in English but don’t be discouraged. Keep trying, this is how we learn.

Coffee Time French teach real French that will give you confidence to speak the language on your holidays. They also host speaking events so you can practise on this side of The Channel first! If you’re based in the Bournemouth area visit to find out more and sign up for a course, or try your local college or message boards to find out about French classes in your area.

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