How I to speak good french?

Have you ever tried to speak to someone who speaks little to no english? Would you agree to meet with that person each week while they painstakingly try to get their words out? 

Would you enjoy having coffee each week for 2 hours with someone who speaks like a 4 year old? 

I honestly don’t know if I would have that patience for that… In fact, to be brutally honest, I don’t think I could do that at all.

One of the suggestions by our language school was to find a french speaking language partner with who we could practice french conversation. My first thought about this, was who on earth would agree to do this?

Some of the many books aiding French studies
Given that I didn’t think I could ever be such a person, I didn’t think I would find such a person. I needed some divine intervention and so I prayed… And shortly after, while taking my kids to school, I was approached by a friendly gentleman on the street who greeted me in French and gave me a pamphlet for an upcoming event. Of course my instinct was to be suspicious of anyone giving me a pamphlet but his motivation was truly sincere. I did the token nod and smile so as to not butcher his language in front of him. I saw him not infrequently after that while I waited for my kids at their school and after several friendly interactions I wondered if he might consider meeting with me. 

I felt like I needed some sort of confirmation though since asking him to be a language partner was no small request. One day, while I tried to comment on the weather to him, he corrected me on the gender of the word “snow.” At that moment, I knew he was a good candidate. 

My next mission was to get up my nerve to ask him in French (as he literally spoke no English). I spent several weeks trying to figure out in my head how to even ask this of this pleasant stranger.

Thankfully whatever I said, must have conveyed the right idea because we have met each week for usually 2 hours to speak french ever since.

The first few meetings with a language partner usually go something like this: 
  • He asks me, so how is your family? And me, not understanding reply “Yes, the weather makes well” 
  • So he tries something else and asks if I want to join him go to an event with him tomorrow and I reply, “I ate my dog tomorrow.” 

And this is why I am so grateful for my language partner and his patience!

Thankfully now 4 months later, we can talk about weather, family, events, politics and world issues. I have had the privilege of meeting his family and he has met mine. He is an example of patience to me and his friendship and continued investment in me is so appreciated!

His friendship reminds me of the importance of mentoring whether it be in language, medicine, relationships or life. Perhaps all of us could use a mentor of some sort and for some of us, we could use a little more motivation to be one!