In Part 1 of this 3-part series, I talked about my plan to crash course my French in time for a short holiday in Paris. Now, it's time to see how I went. Remember, the original plan in a nutshell was to find a combination of low-cost/free online resources, pdfs, podcasts and travel phrase guides to achieve my goal.

Now, I am technically publishing this having arrived in Paris on the previous evening, but I'm going to save sharing my experiences in France for Part 3 ...

*For disclosure, none of the links below are sponsored or affiliate links. Nor do any of the resources I share have any idea about this post.

The log: Monday to Saturday

Here's what I got up to in my Crash Course week.

Monday: Published Part 1 and reviewed several different podcast Spotify French podcasts to find one most suited to my goals.

Tuesday: Further reviewed the podcast that I liked the most (CoffeeBreak French), particularly seasons 1 and 2. I found this to be the most tailored to my 'advanced beginner' level in that it didn't dwell too long on the basic concepts while still reviewing the essentials. I also enjoyed the conversational dialogue which often involved 1 host testing another on key phrases, which meant that I could join in and test myself too. Here's an example of an episode I found super useful:

Review episodes are very useful if you're time-limited.

Wednesday: Revised some basic grammar and verb/phrases vocabulary, as logged below. I then tested myself with a simple cover and remember test: i.e. covering the phrases/words and seeing if I could restate them.



Thursday: limited day as I had some things to do (yes, I do go out once in a while). Managed to listen to 2 hours of CoffeeBreak French with limited attention span.

Friday: Too tired and too busy to do any revision. Sometimes it's good to take a break.

Saturday: More CoffeeBreak French. This time however, I had some time to spare on the Eurostar train to Paris so I ended up revising some grammar I'd missed during the week: things such as direct and indirect pronouns (in English these include phrases such as 'gave it to him'). Here are some examples I read up on:

Additionally, I went back over the links I saved on Wednesday and started to put together the pieces: different verbs and words to make the phrases I felt I'd need in Paris. What phrases did I think I needed in Paris, you say? Glad you asked ...

Practice key phrases!

If you're in a situation like me with travel plans and you're unsure exactly how to make the jump from revising to speaking a language, one simple way to figure it out is just running through what you usually do when you travel. For example, what I always need to do are:

  1. Basic greetings and 'interaction words' such as "hello", "excuse me", "please and thank you", "my name is", "I'm from", "My job is".
  2. Buy things: for example, food, groceries, toiletries, water, chargers/adapters, clothes, shoes. So logically, you'd want to know how to say those words in your target language, and have a look at how to say phrases such as "Could I please buy x", "How much is this?", "Can I pay by cash/card".
  3. Go places/get directions: phrases such as "How do I get to place x?" or "How far to place y", as well as understanding basic direction terminology such as "north, south, east, west", numbers and minutes.
  4. Other common words that I'm going to group under the category of 'miscellaneous' - these include words such as relative pronouns ("who, what, why, where", etc.), demonstrative pronouns ("this, that", etc.), other common words such as "here", "phrases", "a bit" (great for saying the phrase "I only speak a bit of this language", and so on and so forth*.

*Actually, writing this post has made me realise how useful it would be to make a list of these miscellaneous words and share them as one cohesive document. Look out for this in the future.

Make sure you tailor those words to your specific plans. For example, if you plan to visit Louvre Museum make sure you can say "Musée du Louvre". Then, put them together and practice them briefly beforehand, for example, "Où est le Musée du Louvre?" (Where is the Louvre?).

I think the most important thing I've realised from this week and my time in Hong Kong is not to be able to say something perfectly, but having enough of an idea that you can give it a go. Immersion can be such a powerful way of learning so I don't want to waste it by immediately defaulting every conversation to English.

In conclusion

So, what did we learn? Well, overall I was happy with how I carried my Part 1 plan. It was indeed easy to find free and accessible online resources to revise, and I think there's a big takeaway in that: if it's a common language, you can probably teach yourself enough of it just through Google.

However, as my weakest language and with no practice for years before this point, I still don't feel fully ready to take on Paris. But of course there's no way of knowing until we actually try it out, and as I said above, the most important thing is that I have enough in the memory bank to give it a go, rather than take the easy way out and speak English. So stay tuned for Part 3 where I discuss whether I was able to get by in Paris using French!

You can follow my current WIPs by 1) subscribing to this blog or 2) following my current Instagram pages: general account, lifestyle, drums, languages.