In my world, multi-linguists are rock stars. Especially those people that transition from one language to another without skipping a beat. My frequent trips to France have given me the opportunity to converse with these “rock stars” on a regular basis. I am completely and utterly blown away at the ease of which they are able to comprehend and then answer, perfectly, in a foreign language.
My obsession with speaking French began in High School when I discovered that I needed a foreign language credit. I was obssessed from the moment I entered the classroom that first day, and the teacher greeted us with a perfect “bonjour tout le monde”.
Over the years I have struggled to speak French and at times felt I had a firm grasp, however it does not come easily to me. If I were to be metaphoric, I would say that my “rock star”, bilingual friends are the Ferrari’s of the French language, and alas, I am a Ford Escort. I can get there, but it isn’t always pretty.
I am reminded of a trip to France many years ago, when I spoke very little French. We were in a restaurant in Marseilles and were placing our order with a young waiter. He knew we were American and offered to speak English. He confidently said “Tell me your order, tell it to me now”. We giggled at his choice of words but instantly regretted it. He was crestfallen and we felt terrible. We explained to him that he could say instead “I am ready to take your order now”. He was pleased that we took the time to help him with his English and I left with a new appreciation for people who speak a foreign language. Even though my accent is terrible and I often use terrible grammar when speaking French, I am always appreciative of those that take the time to help me in my quest to speak fluently. Merci!