Phonetics: The antidote to hilarious miscommunications

All of you, no matter how confident you are in your spoken French, are going to have a least a handful of embarrassing miscommunications while in Paris.  It’s unavoidable.  It’s part of the experience.  So don’t let it get you down, laugh at your mistakes and learn from them.  Jump at every opportunity to engage in a conversation and don’t worry about if your grammar is correct.  The more you speak, the more your French will improve.

Having said that, I found taking a phonetics course to be invaluable for bettering not just how I speak French but my understanding of how native speakers talk.  The class is one two hour session per week and has minimal homework, but you will have fun and you will learn a lot.  Not to mention the professor is fabulous.  I considered myself to have a fairly good accent, but with this class, I learned of many little mistakes I made – mistakes I wouldn’t have been able to identify and ameliorate on my own.  After this class, I no longer had to live in constant fear of asking where the war was when inquiring about the location of the train station, or describing something yellow as young, or, God help me, saying “nude” when I meant to say “we.”  I also had a lot of fun learning the phonetic symbols and how to transcribe written phrases into their phonetic form…but I could just have a twisted sense of fun.  Either way, I could not encourage you more to sign up for this workshop.  You will learn so much and, often, with classes held in cafes and homework assignments to watch movies or read newspapers, you won’t even realize how much your French is improving until a waiter or cashier backhandedly compliments you on your lack of an American accent.

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