- ESDES’s blog
- Do I need to speak French to study in France ?
2 August 2021
The short answer? No way! However, there are some tips that you should know before moving to Lyon that could save you a headache in the future…
First, learn the basics. In Lyon, many people will speak basic English, but you will find that a lot of people are nervous to speak English, or they will expect you to at least know some basic French. So, you can make it a lot easier to order a coffee and croissant at your local café if you take a couple minutes a day before arriving in France to just learn some basic words. Try these:
Hello, can I have a coffee please?
Bonjour, puis-je avoir un café s'il vous plaît ?
I am trying to find… (Place Bellecour).
Je cherche à trouver…. Place Bellecour.
Left / Right
Gauche / Droite
I would like one international stamp, please.
Je voudrais un timbre international, s'il vous plaît.
How much does this sandwich cost ?
Combien coûte ce sandwich?
There are other words you should likely learn as well, but think of the words you say every day in your own language “I do, I think, I need… milk, water, clothes, food… bank, university, student…” and then try to learn those words! It’s likely that the basics will go a long way when you first arrive, and you’ll be glad you learned even a little French before arriving. Again, don’t stress too much. Just do your best and more French will come naturally with time!
Another tip is: don’t be afraid of a new language! Even if you’ve studied French in school before, living in France will likely be a new experience, as accents are thicker, people speak faster, and you might feel like a beginner all over again. Not to worry, it happens even to people who have studied for years! Your ear will adjust in a few weeks, and you’ll be surprised when one day you wake up and can understand a lot more than the day before! Watching movies in French and listening to French music can help your ear adjust a lot faster too! Just give yourself some time to get used to the new place and accents, and your mind will do a lot of the work for you without you even realizing. Just wait until you start dreaming in French!
Lastly, try to expand your friend group when you arrive to France! It is natural to gravitate toward people who speak your native language as well, and it is a great way to make quick connections that can last a lifetime! Don’t forget to meet French students as well though, as this is how your language skills will really improve quickly! And not only language, but you’ll have a change to learn the French culture and customs more than you ever could from a class or a book. Studying in France is a wonderful opportunity to expand your comfort zone and learn international communication through real-life experience. It might seem difficult at first, but if you really try to connect with French students they will likely be happy to include you as well (even if it only starts with a shy wave and a smile)!
If you ever start to feel discouraged or like you need help in French, don’t forget you can head to the international department at ESDES and there will be someone available to speak English or help you find solutions to practicing French!