Parlez-vous français?


“Parlez-vous français?” (ink and water color on paper, August 2017).


Do you speak French? Or are you planning to learn it? I´ve been on and off the train “Learning French” for the past two years – well, more off than on, if I´m honest. 😉

And to be even more honest with you: I was quite fed up with myself for not already being able to understand or speak French properly. It seems that somehow I was waiting for the knowledge to simply find its way into my brain on its own, preferably while I´m asleep. 😉

But in the last couple of weeks I finally started to see it through: I spent nearly every day at least half an hour with learning French – and it slowly but surely begins to show!

Sure, the grammar is quite tough but what hindered me most was my lack of vocabulary, and even worse: my lacking will to actually pound these words into my head.

Learning a new language can be a slow process, but I think that by learning everyday a bit, I will actually have more success than by sitting at my desk for a more lengthy period just once a week.

Besides my dictionary to help me make sense of the words I encounter in children´s and young adults books, I use a little pocket computer by Franklin (see above in the drawing) which was a go-away gift from a friend who left Germany for France a couple of years ago. It´s especially helpful when it comes to irregular verbs. You simply type in the verb and it coughs up the infinitive for you!

I´m currently working my way through “Les Horloges de M. Svonok” (The timepieces of Mr Svonok) by François Gravel, a book about four friends confronted with ghostly apparitions and inexplicable losses of time. It´s a very good read and I even catched myself picking it up to read more beyond my self-imposed study time. 😉

And if you´re asking yourself why I´m going through all this hard work when really English will get you pretty much everywhere on this planet, just have a quick look at this hilarious and awesome piece of interview with the French actress Marion Cotillard on Late Show, where it will be demonstrated to you that everything sounds so much more intriguing when said in French… :




And for those of you who are interested, here are the translations for the words seen in my drawing above:

le funambule – the tight-rope walker

bougonner – to grumble

j´ai – I have

la ride – the wrinkle

sembler – to seem

hâter – to accelerate

à – to; in; at; with (… and many, many more meanings)

poussiéreux, -se – dusty

la clameur – the clamor

le hasard – the chance

flou, -e – blurry, fuzzy

fier – proud

l´aube – dawn

étonner – to amaze

pourtant – however

grimper – to climb

hausser les épaules – to shrug (typically French thing so it can´t hurt knowing this phrase 😉 )

toi – you

le pêcheur – the fisher

la marée – the tide

couvrir – to cover

la verrière – glass

oui – yes

87 thoughts on “Parlez-vous français?

  1. I’m sure that constant practice is the key. I’m convinced my best chance is total immersion, preferably in a nice little wine-producing village, or perhaps Tahiti? I’m allowed to dream, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful drawing and such a funny video! I have tried to learn French so many times (usually before I’ve been going to travel there) but am still hopeless. I can read it better than I speak — and as soon as anyone speaks to me in French I’m a gibbering wreck. Hopefully I’ll have more success with Maori. 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot, Su! 😀
      Hehe! 😉 It seems French is rather difficult to learn and I´m not the only one having trouble with it, which relieves me endlessly! 😀 Lately I haven´t found much time to read in French but I try to practice at least daily with my Duolingo app, this should keep my brain in the loop 😉 xxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. such a good video – lmao
    and I used to like colbert when he had his show on comedy central – but this was really good and wow that he did not mention Trump – jk
    anyhow, I have been working on my French on and off since 1992….
    and glad yours is going well

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you like it 🙂 I can watch it again and again and laugh my head off! I´m actually trying to sound as mysterious as her when speaking French 😉 Though to be honest, most of the time the context of what I say i s actually a mystery to me!!! 😀 LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

      • well as you can tell – I had a chance to peek around your blog and get caught up – felt nice feeling your vibe again and this was a fun post = there are so many more sides to the artsy Miss G

        Liked by 1 person

      • And it’s so lovely to know that you had a good time here 😄 That’s all I can hope to achieve with blogging, that and enjoy the hard work my blogging friends like you put into theirs. Look so much forward to many of our conversations to come! 😄

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I know – an later I need to share an update on my nephew (the one that passed) – and thanks again for your support last February when we first had the news. I really enjoyed our comment chat!!!

        oh and back to this post for a second.
        Someone once asked folks what their regrest were… like little things and whatnot –
        I do not have many – cos you know – try to accept and just not let regretful thinking have any room.
        “ but i did think of a couple regrets – and just little bitty things –
        and one of them ties into your post here.
        in the late 1990s – the hubs and I were dining out at an upscale restaurant with some friends. Those friends had other friends come and they brought this movie start guy and his wife.
        well during dinner – the guy heard my name (and it is French) and he started speaking to me in French. just basic conversation stuff and I clammed up. I was feeling as if my French would suck too bad – but then I realized even choppy French would have been just fun….
        but it was a split second decision – and when he asked me if I spoke “un peu” I said and then missed the chance to share.
        who really cares – but since that time – I speak my bits of French (or Spanglish) and just do the best I can


      • I remember our chat from back then too 😊 And look forward to the update on your nephew, Yvette.

        Yes, I agree that it is best not to regret too many things but I understand why you regret not having jumped on the opportunity to use your bits of French back then. But at least you did learn from this very understandable mistake which is all we can do. 😄

        Liked by 1 person

      • yeah – and I am not even sure I would call it a mistake – and I guess it goes to show how sometimes we make split second decisions for a variety of reasons – and I just clammed up – but we live life in real time and so maybe that single – and brief – experience prepped me so that I spoke up at a different time that mattered more – ? hm

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I hear you, it’s Thai for me and that is so hard because it has 5 tones, so I think I’m saying it right, but actually I have said it with the wrong tone which makes for baffled expressions, LOL all part of the fun.., I, like you, want to acquire it while asleep! 😉 I admire anyone that can speak more than one language 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I admire you for trying to learn Thai – it sounds just as tough as Chinese or Japanese with the different tones! I tried to learn a few phrases of Chinese once with a friend and she always kept saying that I intoned it totally wrong and insulted her all the time! 😀 I quickly gave up then and started learning Spanish – much safer 😉 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am in the minority in my family – I am only proficient in one language while many of them have such an ear and tongue for languages! I have taken many hours of French lessons, but the only time I felt like I was making any progress at all was when I visited France and had to actually use the language.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve learned basic French at high-school, but didn’t like the language (sorry French neighbors) and never did use it again. Now I can speak, read and write (some better as others) Dutch, German and English and I hope to learn Spanish. But first I need to learn the Indonesian language, since I going to visit this country next year with my dad 🙂

    So, Bravo Sarah for sticking to it this time. Big hug and je t’aime 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Patty! 🙂
      You will find Spanish much easier than French I think.
      And Kudos to you for wanting to learn Malayan before your trip to Indonesia! Most people would just rely on their English 😉 Are you going to visit courses to learn it or do you want to do it on your own? I´m not even sure if they teach it around here, at least not at my evening school 😉
      Good luck with that!
      Have a lovely day! Big hugs! 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You have hit a nerve here, Sarah. I love the French language and tried to take in school. Our teacher was more interested in the journalism class and school newspaper so when I moved schools the next year, too far behind. Being brought up until age 5 bilingual, (German primary, English secondary) I found myself not proficient at neither. Once we came to the States, we were not allowed to use our German again. Never learned the grammar well but remember many words. I keep thinking I will practice but there are so many other things on my plate, I never quite get to it. If I had the funds, I would go back and spend 6 months to a year in immersion learning. But at my age, why? Getting too old to have it be useful. My daughter studied French but had no one to use it with. Now she is learning Japanese so she can watch Anime movies and understand what they are saying without subtitles. 🙂 What ever works I guess. I bought a book in German but can’t even get the English books finished. I need to live to be 108 to get it all done that I want to do. 🙂 I hope you accomplish your goal of learning the language.

    Liked by 1 person

    • French certainly is one of the most intriguing languages and I have always been drawn to its sound too.
      And kudos to your daughter for learning Japanese – it´s such a difficult language, especially for our western minds.
      Have you heard of the smartphone app Duolingo? A friend on WP just recommended it to me and I think it´s very good. It´s for free and you can use it for as many languages as you want, so maybe you could just give it a go for German and French even if you think it can´t be of any use anymore? Because I know that at least it´s good food for the brain and it´s actually fun doing these lessons. Think about it 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the information, Sarah. I just downloaded the app. I agree that we need to keep challenging the brain. Who knows what can happen. I’ve been challenging mine to recover from the damage Bells Palsy did to my brain 7 years ago. Lost most of my words and writing helps me work to bring them back. Retraining the brain is a big deal for me. 🙂 Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Oui! I know a bit of French. I took high school courses and also first year French in university. But it’s been many years now since I’ve been in a classroom. Good that you are taking this up and I like the art you created, as well as the list of terms for learning more 🙂 I think practice helps when learning a language and I wish you all the best with your mastery of French 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot, Christy!
      Practice is definitely the key to mastering any language. The first weeks were tough though, I was always looking out for something else to do instead of just sit at my desk for half an our and learn – like washing the dishes or dusting 😉 Now it really has become a habit I even look forward to! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I did my best to learn a little French before I visited there seven years ago, with mixed success. I learned enough phrases to be polite, and to order my Diet Cokes with ice, but the worst part for me was the accent, which I failed at completely. I was a lot better and reading French signs than speaking the language. Even so, almost all of the people I met over there were polite, and many of them were kind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It´s almost impossible to sound French if you haven´t lived there for years I suppose – and even if you have it might still be impossible. Accents are a tricky thing but I wouldn’t worry too much about them – like you said most people are simply delighted when you try 🙂
      Do you practice your French from time to time to keep it somewhat fresh?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sadly, no. I studied Spanish in school, so I concentrate more on that, but I’m not particularly good at Spanish either. I only learned the French for the visit to France. I do think I need to work more on the Spanish, though, since so many people in our country speak it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I also studied Spanish – it’s so much easier than French I think 😉
        Yes, many people speak Spanish in the US and it can only be of advantage to know it too. Apart from Chinese it’s one of the most spoken languages worldwide!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, learning a language is hard. I am always puzzled how we manage to learn one when we are young at all. The first language we learn has shape our brain in certain way which may be in totally conflict with the new language to learn.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That´s true, it´s especially fascinating to compare eastern and western languages in that matter. I once tried to learn Chinese – and utterly failed! Had I learned it when I was much younger, I maybe would have stand a chance 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I adore your cute little drawing, Sarah! I used to have one of those little Franklin devices that I used for Spanish. I love France, the French, the language, the country, the decor, the food, and don’t forget the desserts! I love anything French. Many years ago, after studying Spanish for 3 years, I was going to learn French before I visited the country. I did learn a bit, as French-Italian-Spanish go really well together and many, many words are similar, alas, I learned a bit for the trip, then forgot it. I have also terribly lapsed on my Spanish. I was determined to study more during this summer (because I do substitute teach in Bilingual classrooms), but I was just not able to fit it in. I do wish I could be accomplished enough to do at least 30 minutes a day as you do. I admire you for that. The Colbert/Cotillard video cracked me up! Keep on keeping on and you will get there! Much love to you. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Lana! But don´t look to closely at the drawing – I forgot several letters! 😉
      I´m with you in loving everything French – it´s an amazing culture! I have a deep and troubling love affair with croissants 😉 No matter how hard I try, I can´t say no and they ruthlessly take advantage of me 😉
      It´s always the best to practice the language in a country where it´s actually spoken, your trip must have been wonderful. And you´re right, all these three languages go so well together! I can keep talking in Spanish with someone Italian and we perfectly understand each other! But I have to get back to practice it more often too, Spanish that is. I´ve been neglecting it terribly ever since I started concentrating on French.
      Maybe you can fit in 15 minutes a day? I´m sure it will suffice especially since you already learned it 🙂 I also keep “cheating” by sometimes just listening to French radio for half an hour or watching a film in French with subtitles on. 😉 xoxo

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  12. Good luck! I had French classes back in Junior High School a couple of years ago but I hardly remember anything, chiefly vocabulary and expressions. We had to choose between French and German but most students had no interest for either language so you can imagine what the class was like… Our teacher was very kind though!
    I’m currently learning Japanese on my own which proves to be a challenge but I pick up something every day. As the Japanese say:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I will need it 😀
      Being German I tend to think that it´s a much easier language 😉 In a way it definitely is: it´s always pronounced how it is spelled 😉
      Wow! Japanese is so tough. A friend of mine has just moved there and is learning it too. Luckily the signs are the same as in Chinese and that she already can (being Chinese 😉 ).
      Good luck to you too! 🙂


  13. We had to take French in school. I enjoyed learning the language because some of my favourite authors were French. Sadly, I never continued to study French seriously after school. But it’s never too late. Congratulations to you on your progress, I’m sure your hard work will pay off. Thanks for sharing the video. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, which authors would that be? Maybe Voltaire or Victor Hugo? Jules Verne, Dumas, Flaubert or Balzac? I like them all and hope to be able to read their works in French one day.
      There was no French at my school unfortunately, we had to be content with Latin and Ancient Greek besides English of course. I don´t regret that, Latin is a wonderful language to build upon most European languages on, as is actually Ancient Greek – did you know that almost fifty percent of English descends of greek? Besides it´s one of the most beautiful languages in my mind 🙂
      Maybe you can start reactivating your French by reading some graphic novels. I always find that a good way to practice 🙂


  14. Even living in France for nearly four years I struggle with the grammar and the wretched conjugations. I always say I’ve got a huge vocabulary but I can’t string a sentence together! When I first moved to France I spent an hour a day studying, joined the local library and put my most têtu head on …. it does pay dividends. We have just been back to our village for it’s annual 15th August fête which is called ‘Lez’Arts Dans la Rue’ (a play on the word for Lizard 🦎 since a very dapper lézard is the mascot. I will be writing about it in the next few days (I promised them I would so now I have to) but the real thing was that I was chatting away to a lady and she suddenly said ‘where are you from?’ – I’m English I replied … ‘you speak French really well’ she said – I didn’t need the help of the wonderful musicians playing in the streets to have a little dance on air – really such a bottle-it moment for me. And another was when we arrived home last night and I opened my mailbox – thank you! She is beautiful — like her creator! Xxxxxxxxxxxxx

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    • Oh!!! I´m so glad it arrived!!! And that you like it!!! 😀 That´s huge weight off my shoulders!
      French conjugations are indeed wretched – I can even say that I loathe them 😉 And what is it with that subjunctive?! No one really needs that! Ah well, I guess, I will have to live with it… 😉
      Wow! I´m so impressed! When a French lady asks you where you´re from that´s like being knighted! Well done you! I probably would have asked her to repeat it so I could record it on my phone 😉 😀
      Whenever I´m in Spain, people ask me if I´m French, so I kind of hope I can dazzle the French when I visit France one day 😉 But maybe they will just ask me if I´m Spanish! 😀
      At least it seems I can hide my German accent sufficiently 😉 I think that´s due to having learned both languages with native speakers. Unlike English I´m afraid which I learned at school taught by a German teacher and thus seem unable to shake the accent entirely off 😦
      Ah well, there are worse things… like having to learn Chinese!! 😉
      Wish you a beautiful evening, Fiona! Much love and many hugs to you! xxxxxxxxxxxx

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      • I did nearly ask her to repeat several times and then sign and affidavit to the effect that I can (sort of) speak French. Most recently I have been asked often if I am Belgian which I was pretty pleased with but this was aeons better. I have my husband with me for a week so beautiful evening is guaranteed (even though he is in the other room working!!) I wish you a gorgeous one too! xxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • On a sombre note, I had a note from Terry last night which I shared with my husband. We had also watched the dreadful news coming out of Spain yesterday. As he sat with tears streaming down his face he said ‘we have to make the most of every moment. Never waste a thing’. Xxxxxxxxxx

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      • What´s happening to dear Terry and what happened in Spain makes my heart bleed so much… I wish there was something, anything I could do but there isn´t and I feel so powerless. The only thing to do is to do exactly what your husband says – never waste a thing and make the most of every moment, to live our life to the fullest. Much love and many hugs to you! xxxxxxxxxxxx


  15. J’ai adoré votre écriture, Sarah, mon amie! I also enjoyed the video — Marion Cotillard and Stephen Colbert were so funny. I admire you learning French; a very difficult language to master. My French is borrowed from Google Translation. Lol. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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