Friday, February 22, 2013

Parlez-vous franglais? Language exchanges in Paris

Want to learn French? Don't come to Paris. Why? Being an international city, everyone speaks English. If you really want to learn the beautiful French language, head out to the Province. Basically, anywhere but Paris. My non-French-speaking friends are always surprised when I say everyone responds to me in English as they say they couldn't find anyone who spoke English in Paris. But I'm pretty sure it's one of those Parisianisms where they will reply in the other language just to spite you.
Anyhoo, when I first arrived here, I sought out options to resolve my language-learning woe. Enter - Language exchanges. Now, not all language exchanges are created equally and when you google 'Language exchanges Paris' you will be faced by quite a few options. So without further ado, here's a select collection of them on offer:

The concept is similar to that of speed dating (yes, sometimes with awkward chatting up). 7 minutes in French, 7 minutes in English then you change partners. It's a great way to get the ball rolling with your French as the conversations generally are just introductions as you have such a limited time together. However, that is also its downfall, as conversations become repetitive and language-wise, you'll plateau fairly quickly. For more information, (self-promotion alert) read the blog I wrote for work about it.

Image via Franglish

Conversation Exchange Partner
Fairly easy to find, with many sites such as Conversation Exchange and My Language Exchange giving you the opportunity to find someone to practise your French with, especially if you are a native English speaker. Take note however, if you are a woman, you will be inundated by messages from unsavoury men who will use practising French as a euphemism. A better option is to head to Couchsurfing, so you can check out the person's profile, which will hopefully have references, before you meet them. If you do meet up with someone for a language exchange, please take the necessary precautions beforehand eg. meeting in a public place etc. Safe not sorry and all that jazz.

Pub Quizz

I left the best till last as this has been the highlight of my week since I got here. Tuesday night is pub quizz night. They've taken the British institution and given it a French twist. It's brilliant. One round in French, one round in English and to finish off, the picture or music round. During the French round, you can only speak French and vice versa. That's why the concept works so well. Additionally, you immediately have something to talk about so no awkward silences or having to scratch your head for an interesting coversation topic. To top it all off, not only will you have bragging rights if you win but you get free shots too. Who said there was no such thing as a free dinner?! If you're interested to know more, here's the link to the meet up here.

The winners!

What are your favourite events to learn languages? Do you use sites like Meetup?


  1. This is all so awesome! I just got back from South America and want to keep learning Spanish. Combining that with a speed dating scenario and weekly pub quiz is pure genius!!!

    1. Hi Arianwen, thanks for reading! There's all sorts of ingenious language exchanges on offer, normally has a good selection. Buena suerte!

  2. I love this idea. I wish we had something here in Toronto with Spanish. I need to start practicing now!

  3. Maintaining a language is the biggest challenge, it's hard finding ways to keep it up when you're back home. I love the pub quiz idea so much, I'm quite tempted to start it up when I get back home but I'm not sure if there'd be enough interest!