Okay; I'm fluent German, passable in Spanish and a whiz at the base 5 number system used in K'mai (Cambodian). But in two months my wife and I will be in Paris. I know the old pick-up phrases used in my twenties, but I'm pushing 70! Any on-line class or conversational website appropriate for eating, buying, traveling--just enough to move me beyond that ugly american place?? I need real life, like "May we have two ham and cheese sandwiches? Which bus goes to Gare de Lyon? Take me to the nearest hospital. Excuse me. No thankyou, I'm a married man." Thanks for any website advice...
Have you checked Mt. Hood CC to see if they offer any online courses or classroom courses (non-credit, continuing education-type classes)? The CC system in and around Seattle usually has pretty good language course offerings; I'd think the Portland area would be similar.
Try your local library, either for an online course or to see if they have a French language program on CD (or still have the tapes) like Pimsleur that you can check out.
Phrase books are usually geared toward travelers, and Rick Steves has a French one, as do other companies. Take a look at your local bookstore for one that suits the situations you may find yourself in.
For the kinds of basics you described, a CD (or tape) geared toward travelers like In-Flight French or Berlitz French for Travelers would be good. I like the Berlitz, as you can get them bundled with a phrasebook. If you're up for more "work" you could get Pimsleur, but these are longer and more expensive courses (even the shortest is 4 CD's). And they don't focus right away on the phrases you want for travel.
Do you have a university nearby? You can ask to audit a French 1 course. I have several people in their 60s and 70s that audit my French 1 course for free. To actually learn French your need to hear it and speak it. No book or website can successfully help you do that,
I recommend a combination of Pimsleur and Michel Thomas CDs which you can work on at your own pace every day. As you have some Spanish training, you will be able to go through the early lessons rapidly. On the ground you will be surprised at how much you recall.
lindley, I would also highly recommend the Pimsleur language series. There are three levels, and by the end of Level III, you should be able to manage reasonably well. I've found it extremely helpful for learning Italian. As the others have mentioned, you could also check the local Colleges to find out if they're offering any courses in the near future. Bon Voyage!
Lindley you might check audible.com or the iTunes store (or Android store as appropriate). I got a set of lessons a few years ago from Audible called "All Audio Italian," which did for me exactly what you're looking for,and surely they'd have French too. Or the NYT had an article a couple of months ago about the Living Language app for iPod or iPad. But the All Audio did exactly what you're talking about took me through the typical day-to-day situations. Hopefully you can find it! And good on you for making the effort you clearly have a gift, so you should pick up what you need easily.
I think your best option would be to hire a private tutor for a few sessions and learn how to properly say what you want to be able to say. The problem is that it takes a long time to learn enough French to understand what is being said back to you! If you really want to go the auto-didact route, I'd recommend Fluenz, which covers a lot of tourist phrases/vocab. I absolutely don't recommend the Michel Thomas CDs. I went through them before our house-hunting visit to France. I came full of false confidence. I held my head high and then spoke phrases which no one could understand (and which weren't gramatically correct). I also tried a little Rosetta Stone and can't recommend that for your needs either.
I used the Michel Thomas French CD course and through repeated listening learned more than enough basic French to get by as a tourist. His approach is easy and I highly recommend it.
I'm living in France now and the phrases I learned are working for me -- though I have supplemented his lessons with a course at the Alliance Francaise and other sources.
You could also try the BBC online French classes. You can do them without "signing up" and it might be enough for your trip.
A free resource is I Tunes, I Tunes U (a category ion in the top tabs). Search French language. The one I am listening to now is from Freed-Hardeman University. It starts with some basics; I haven't listened to all of the lessons yet. I put it on my phone so I can listen anywhere. Enjoy France; I'll be leaving in 3 months for Paris so I'm brushing up on my French too.
...To you all...many strategic sources. But now, I have to get busy. Take my advice; do your learnin' when you're younger -- the brain works much faster then!! --Lindley.
Are you someone who remembers all the lyrics to songs? If so, try earworms. They repeat phrases with music playing in the background. For some reason, this works for me for learning the niceties. I have the Ipod version. www.earwormslearning.com/discover/index.php
lindley, I most definitely agree, its MUCH easier to learn this sort of thing when younger. I'm still struggling with Italian, but I intend to continue until I'm fluent (even if it takes 20 years).
I also recommend Michel Thomas, each time I go to Paris I review the CD's. I also have a translator ap on my iPhone that worked pretty well the last time.
I've been using the Babbel iPhone/iPad app, and I really like it. I am using it to learn German - but they have one for French as well. I just started playing around with "DuoLingo" as well. It is on the web. It is free as well. http://duolingo.com/ Hope that helps!