Several Weeks in Lyon, France – Fall 2017

About a year ago, a young man from Lyon, France came to our little town of Hilo, Hawaii on a Rotary Youth Exchange visit. He stayed for nearly a year and during that time re-kindled our interest in France and generated thoughts of going to visit his home town. What follows is a continuing description of our preparations for the trip as well as our time spent during our visit.

I suppose it was about 55-60 years ago that I last attempted a formal approach toward learning the French language. Since then other languages have intruded on my learning (Japanese, Hawaiian) but having bought the tickets and paid for an Air BnB apartment in Lyon, it was clearly time to soldier on and make the attempt to become moderately capable.

There are many approaches toward learning French that lure the unwary, the Internet making the availability of them far too easy. And reviews of these programs demonstrate that there are as many different programs as there are individual desires to teach the language as well as personal capabilities toward adsorbing such knowledge. Also intriguing were programs from Commonwealth speakers of English who felt compelled to use their native patois as an overlay on French lessons ( Coffee Break French, Rocket Languages ). I found Learn French by Podcast interesting but the pdf files associated with the podcast are somewhat too information dense to be easily useful for me personally. In the end, I’m trying a mixture of word lists/flash cards ( MosaLingua ), annotated vignettes ( Coffee Break French ) and a weekly conversation get-together with friends over wine and h’orsdeuvres. I’m also settling for a minimum of verb tenses. For verb conjugation the free app “Conjugaison” is wonderful, IMHO. I’m also using the iTranslate app but have no idea how accurate it really is. Many translation apps appear to use the same translation engine but with a variety of interfaces. iTranslate is relatively straightforward and the ads are easily maneuvered around.

I’m trying very hard to have adequate pronunciation but don’t plan on speaking very quickly once we’re there. In this instance speed doesn’t necessarily kill but it would surely maim my correct accent efforts. Everyone who visits France says that the French appreciate anyone who makes an effort to speak their language and are generally quite forgiving with respect to small errors. Of course the whole noun gender thing is a trial to native English speakers such as myself but it could be so much worse. Again, I’m hoping that gentle persistence accompanied by an adult beverage will see me through.

Since we plan on being in Lyon for several weeks, we’re surely going to invest in TCL cards which gives access to the metro, bus and funicular services. The metro and bus lines are numerous and service frequent according to our young visitor. Note to self:  practice asking for directions to different places; obtain hard copies of transportation system; utilize TCL apps for phone.