Learning another language will serve you well in many pursuits, and French is one of the most popular languages in the world. By choosing to learn abroad, you can also broaden your horizons, meet new people and develop a better understanding of other cultures.
It may surprise you that London has more French inhabitants than Bordeaux, Nantes or Strasbourg and has been called ‘France’s six biggest city’ as a result. London has a fast-growing French community, with many individuals choosing to live in the East End’s creative corners. By living in London and speaking French, professionals from France give themselves plenty of great opportunities in the job market and advance their careers more quickly.
A culturally diverse city, London is home to over 300 languages across all of its inhabitants. International language schools such as UIC ( www.uiclondon.com) offer a wide range of courses to help locals and foreign students learn how to become bilingual.
French courses are especially popular with many people signing up to prepare for travel, gap years or work abroad. But with the majority of locals speaking English, why bother learning French in London for a trip to France?
Experience the country as a local
If you can speak French while you book tickets, ask for directions, order food or talk to locals, you’ll end up feeling just as much like a local yourself. Not only will you make your trip more comfortable, but by being able to sweet-talk shop assistants and bargain with taxi drivers, you’ll be able to gain a deeper understanding of the culture around you.
When you lack the ability to communicate in the native language of the country you’re travelling in, you might find it hard to get a true experience of what life is like. While local people may well speak English, there are many aspects of French culture which may get lost in translation.
Speaking to local people will also be half the fun of your trip. One of the best parts of travelling abroad is making new friends and if you can speak French, all the better. The relationships you make during your time abroad will be unforgettable – the better you can speak the language, the greater the number of people you can connect with.
And, of course, depending on how long you’re away for, you may well want to form a romantic relationship too. Speaking French will be a very striking quality for a potential date and there’s something very attractive about seeing someone confidently speaking a second language.
Où se trouve… / Où est– Where is…?
Je ne peux pas trouver… – I can’t find…
Enchante – It’s nice to meet you
Merci beaucoup – Thank you very much
Excusez-moi – Excuse me
Combien ça coûte? – How much does that cost?
Benefits of being bilingual
Makes you smarter
Being bilingual will make you smarter – it has been proven to improve skills that aren’t related to language and protect against dementia in old age. Bilinguals have a better awareness of their own environment as they regularly need to switch languages.
Creates opportunities for study and work
You can also triple your chances of getting into a good university, should you want to study further, as many schools recognise the importance of language in areas such as the arts, theology, literature and social sciences. Not to mention the huge asset a second language is in the professional world. In an increasingly globalised marketplace, any employer will be glad to have you on board if you’re bilingual.
Opens up communications
Gaining an understanding of how the world works as a whole is another benefit of being fluent in more than one language. Language is a tool that can improve communications between individuals, governments and businesses, while breaking down cultural barriers. Being bilingual will go a long way with helping you gain a wider understanding of the world.
Improve your own language
Finally, learning how to speak French may actually improve your English. Because we’re so used to speaking and writing our mother tongue, we often forget things like correct grammar and spelling. As the same idea is often expressed in different ways in other languages, you have to actively think about what you want to say. This can help you to better understand parts of language you might previously have taken for granted.