On Sunday, I went to an event called “Franglish” at a bar in the 11th arrondissement. Franglish is for native French speakers wanting to improve their English and for native English speakers wanting to improve their French. The set-up is a quite a bit like that of speed-dating: English speakers sit on one side of the tables and French speakers on the other side, and after every quarter of an hour the French speakers rotate. The rule is that, with every partner, you speak to each other for 7 minutes in French and then 7 minutes in English (or vice versa).
My 8-Euro entrance fee included a mug of the house beer and 2 hours of conversations with 6 different people. I spoke with Thierry and Jean-Baptiste, who both learned English in school and are still very good at reading and writing but never got much practice speaking. I talked to Eduard about his studies in business; he spent a semester in Spain a couple of years ago and he really wants to work in England but needs to improve his English in order to do so (he spoke pretty well but his accent was really strong). I tried to ask Pedro about himself, but when he learned I was studying music that’s all he wanted to talk about. Not just classical music, either, he gave me several recommendations of recent and contemporary artists from France as well as from Greece and Brasil.
By the end of the night, I couldn’t remember which things I said to which people in which language (kind of an odd feeling). I ended up saying a lot of the same things to each of my partners, but it was still a great way to practice speaking French. I have found that you can only learn so much by listening to a professor and being in class; the real mastery of a language has to come from speaking it, coming up with words on your own, and yes, making a lot of mistakes along the way. I rather enjoyed going to Franglish and I think I’ll go again soon (they’re held in various bars around Paris 2-3 times each week).
While walking home, I saw to my delight that there are still Christmas decorations up in the city. I’ve noticed that Christmastime in France lasts a lot longer than in America (where so many people rush to take down their decorations on the 26th or even the evening of the 25th!). Trees and decorations have slowly been disappearing since I’ve been here, but this bank at Place d’Italie is still proudly displaying their lights. What a perfect way to cap off the evening!