Today, I had to visit the social security office and the tax office of Geneva. It was during my last visit to the tax office that I got my resolve to start learning French – I could not get my way around with English and it was frustrating to go around and talk to different people without understanding much.
So, with 2 months of French learning, I was confident that I would be able to at least have a better experience compared to last time. I resolved not to talk a sentence in English and to try to get by using French only.
So, on the way to the social security office, I thought about what I wanted to talk and prepared the sentences. So, I entered the room ready to utter out a few French sentences. I was a greeted by a gentleman who talks fluent English who was usually called in to talk to me during my earlier trips. Alas, an opportunity lost.
Then, I got my opportunity again, but this time I had no time to prepare as it was unplanned meeting. I had to meet another officer for getting some clarifications. So, with no time to even think about what I had to say, I entered the room with a resolve to try to talk as much French as I can. I explained to her the problem in broken French and she was able to understand. Then, she did some research and answered me – I understood what she said perfectly. I wanted to ask a few additional clarifications, which are just nice-to-have information and I was a little hesitant whether to ask them or not, as the sentences were a bit complex – However, I decided to take the plunge and uttered out my sentence. To my surprise, she understood and she replied to me smiling. I apologized for my bad French and I told her that I am just learning French – she smiled and was very graceful.
Then, I went to the tax department and I asked directions at the reception even though I remembered where to go. She asked me for some information and then she gave me the direction – I had some difficulty in understanding some of what she said. But after 2 repetitions and a little of guessing based on context, I understood her question.
On my way back to office, I was feeling so good that I was able to get by without using any English. My confidence has really soared after these 2 meetings. Then, I went to the usual restaurant that I visit, but decided to talk in French. The server was asking me questions in English but I was answering in French – it was a bit funny. He must be wondering what happened to me 🙂
Then, I came to my office and received a parcel from Assimil. I ordered the next book in Assimil series as I am about to complete the French with ease. But I received a Russian book. So, I had to write to Assimil. So, rather than writing in English, I decided to write in French. I first typed the French sentences in Google translate to see how Google is translating my sentences into English and with a bit of lookup to fill the gaps in my knowledge, I sent the mail. It was not a long mail, but I am feeling great that I am able to accomplish little tasks in French.
For those of you who know French and who are curious, here is what I have written – you are welcome to point out errors in my sentences.
Bonjour Madame Valerie.
malheuresement, il y a un problème. J’ai reçu le livre qui s’appelle “Russian with ease”, tandis que j’ai commandé duex autres livres: “Using French” et “l’arabe sans Peine”. Alors, comment puis-je retourner cet envoi et recevoir les bons livres?
excusez-moi pour mon français. j’apprends le français maintenant avec Assimil et je veux utiliser ce que j’ai appris.