Yesterday I was in the thermal spa town of Bagnères-de-Luchon, nestled in the stunning Pyrenees (pictured right).
After the waiter delivered my café au lait, I made an in joke with my husband about us taking a 'coffee break French'.
Coffee Break French is a free podcast that we'd been listening to daily leading up to our trip. Hosted by a Scottish duo, we were certain we'd learned to speak French with a Aussie-Scottish accent that made us impossible to understand.
We also concurred that it was easier to practice French in the privacy of our own home, than what it was to the native speakers of France... or members of the French Conversation in Melbourne Group for that matter. I had strategically joined said group prior to my trip but never managed to attend a meetup (tut tut tut).
I was so ashamed of my minuscule vocabulary and poor grammar that I thought I needed to learn more before inflicting myself onto others. When I first arrived here, I avoided speaking French at all costs (despite having spent $500 at Melbourne's Lyceum Language Centre earlier this year). At first I would flush bright red and utter "je parle un petit peu de francais" before attempting to get to the point.
Oh how silly. How vain.
Fast forward a month and I'm happy to report that I'm well chuffed with how my French is coming along. This has become especially evident when communicating with those who speak not a word of anglais. Now I dive in head first, faux pas' and all!
I realised how cute it is when someone is learning English. The difficult-to-comprehend accent and all the little nuances that get lost in translation, just makes it endearing. So if people with petit peu English are endearing to me, then perhaps I might be endearing to the French?
One can hope.
I've had nothing but great fun doing my very best (which might sound like your very worst) in speaking the local lingo. In almost all cases, everybody loves to see me try - and they give me space to do so before rescuing me with English, or sign language.
Until tomorrow, if you're avoiding doing something new because you're not perfect - give yourself a break... a coffee break French even.