#105 Learn the Language

“Oiseau?”  Said the youngest boy [7].

“Bird.”  I screeched, delighted with myself.

“Yes.  Voiture?”

“CAR!”  I’m usually asking the kids to be a bit quieter on the bus, and here I am screeching with delight at our new game.  Luckily there’s no one else on the top deck.  

“Mitrailleuse.”  Said the eldest boy [9]  with a devious grin.  I pondered on it.  “You’ll never get it, they definitely won’t have taught it to you in school.”

“Je ne sais pas…”  I admitted, I had no idea.

“Machine gun.”  He said casually.  “Did they teach you that in school?”

“They did not, I should ask for a refund!” He’s happy to have taught me something new.

It may seem like a raucous game of ‘Guess the French word’ on the top deck of the number 9, but there are serious undertones to our game.  I’m off to Paris in just over a week, and my French is a little rusty.  By sheer chance the universe has given me three french speaking children to look after, who have kindly offered to help me refresh my vocabulary on hearing my concerns at my forgotten French.

You see Lottie,  I think it’s really important that when you travel to another country, you give their language a go.  So often I’ve seen Brits abroad shouting at people in English, because of course, if you speak louder, they’ll understand.  Frankly it’s embarrassing.  I suppose, because at times we’ve tried to conquer the planet, Rule Britannia and all that silliness, a lot of countries do speak our language, but I still always think it’s respectful to have a go at the language of the country you’re in, learning a few words is exciting and takes just a few minutes. And yes, quite often (especially in France, Spain and Italy)  you’ll find that people are really keen to test out they’re English on you, and for you to give them a brutal analysis of how they’ve done.  It’s these experiences that have made me feel rubbish and as though I could try harder at learning other languages.  It’s so easy nowadays with the internet and phone apps as well.  So dive in, get lexical and lyrical with those languages and love learning and lisping away to your heart’s content.

“Siège?” (Eldest boy [9].



“Cloud!  Cloud!”


“Um, a siege?”

“No.  It’s sooo easy.  You give up?”


“A seat.  Like you’re sitting on.”

“Oh.  I still have a lot to learn.  Do you think I’ll be okay in Paris?”

“Mmmmmm.  Yeah.  You’ll be fine.  I think…”

 Paris 2011


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