French Sabbatical

My family's year in France…

Day 344 (9 June 2011) – Reflecting on Language Learning Opportunities

Meet one of my French professors in Nantes, the auto-cashier at the nearby U Express grocery store. I had a funny realization while checking out there just a few minutes ago. How much better would my French be if every time I buy groceries I interact with a real live human being (a real live French person, no less) instead of scanning my items myself and interacting with a machine?

Digging deeper into this philosophical question, I wonder if using my computer as much as I have (to blog, of all things, and in English, no less!) has also hampered my French language acquisition. Another question, how different would my experience be if we were living here 20 years ago?

Clearly, there are positives and negatives to this. 20 years ago I could not have gone online to look up the local bus schedule, or used a translator to help me understand things better. But each of those interactions with a machine is one less potential interaction with a human being.

Still, I will report that I can say, “Passer les articles devant le lecteur.” At least that’s what I think the machine is telling me when I’m scanning things too slowly.

And, oh, the woman (French, I presume) who cut my hair today told me my French was very good. That came after I told her, “Je ne parle pas très bien le français.” Ironic, huh?

June 9, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. The problem you have in France is not that dissimilar to the problems we all face in the US – we interact with machines to the exclusion of real people. I think that is not the best way to live. However, here I am on the computer also, wondering when my neighbors will be out for the weekend, eager to have a glass of wine and a meal with them. That is what makes life worth living.

    Comment by Linda Taylor | June 10, 2011 | Reply

  2. I had mixed results in Spanish when I said I didn’t know much or later joked that I had forgotten much or too much. When even these phrases contain errors, all listeners understood.

    Comment by Seattle.roamer | June 13, 2011 | Reply

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