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Mike Anderson | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

Bonjour de France

6569_625306818521_56008416_36696469_8157678_nComment vas-tu? Je vais bien!

You’re driving along in France and suddenly you see this sign on the right side of the road – would you know what to do? Are you comfortable enough with French to get around safely?

If you are planning to visit CERN or the Geneva area I recommend learning at least a few basic french words. Too many Americans show up either not knowing or not comfortable saying simple things which you will hear or need to use within a day of your arrival.

I know a grad student who, before going to CERN for the summer, told me, “You don’t really need to know French there,” and then the same day I picked him up from the Geneva airport he got into an awkward situation at the grocery store because he was trying to pay with Swiss Francs at a French grocery store.  He had no idea she was trying to tell him they only accept Euros.

If you don’t know any French, I recommend starting with basic human interaction stuff, like:

  1. Hello
  2. Goodbye
  3. Thank You
  4. Sorry
  5. Excuse Me

screen-shot-2009-09-15-at-20752-pm1
There are many sites on the web where you can hear basic french words and practice your pronunciation. Here is a lesson on french greetings, and here are some french words for being polite.

After learning words for politeness, I recommend learning words to help get around, like “Entrance,” “Exit”, “Emergency Exit”, or “No Parking.”

The most comprehensive source I’ve found for learning French words is WordReference.com.  Bookmark it!

When you come to France and Switzerland you will often see the word “interdit” on signs.  Will you be able to understand them?

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