Lately, to divert myself from irksome, monotonous work in Hong Kong, I have travelled with my family to Canada, where English and French are the two official languages of the nation. Fascinated by their bilingual culture, I thus tried to carpe opportunitatem, i.e. to seize every opportunity to learn the modern Romance language.
During my short sojourn, I also visited Ottawa, the capital city, where everything from road signs along the street to a menu at any restaurant are simultaneously in version bilingue, which also means that I can roughly know the signification of that French word, or that French expression by referring to its English equivalent. Throughout my travel to Quebec and Ottawa, the twin words ‘arrêt’ and ‘sortie’ were so omnipresent that I think I would never forget.
This journey also makes me understand one golden rule of l’apprentissage des langues étrangères: It is not in an immersion environment that one can master a particular foreign language, but it is by mustering one’s courage to speak up and talk without feeling embarrassed that one becomes a master of it. If you spare no efforts to comprehend the language, wherever you are, I am sure you will be a fluent speaker of it.
If you are enthusiastic about language learning, just be persistent and keep up with it. For French learners, here are some of the French words commonly used (at least in Canada):
(1) arrêt (n. m.) (stop)
(2) sortie (n. f.) (exit)
(3) musée (n. m.) (museum)
(4) pouvez (v. infinitive : pouvoir) (to be able to)
(5) poussez (v. infinitive: poussez) (to push)
(6) lever (v.) (to raise)
(7) attendre (v.) (to wait)
The above list only summarizes some of the vocabularies I have recalled so far, as I have forgotten many others. Yet, here are two phrases you ought to remember well, since they are frequently used throughout my whole trip:
(1) Merci beaucoup (Thanks a lot)
(2) Au revoir (Goodbye)
Donc merci beaucoup de votre attention et au revoir!
[Featured image taken by Alton at Ottawa, where the instructions inside an elevator are written both in English and French]