Fifteen minutes is all it takes. No, not that. A quarter of an hour is all you need to have a conversation at a language-exchange night.
Damon and I signed up for Franglish evenings here in Lille. It’s a bit like speed-dating really.
The idea is that English-speakers get 7 minutes or so to talk French with a native French-speaker, and then you swap. I found it a good way to get to practise my French.
Among others, I met a fashion designer called Émilie, a software writer called Hubert and an extremely self-confident young man named Alexi who was there between aid missions in Cameroon.
I tried to have different conversations with each of them, so that I wasn’t just talking about how I live here in France but work in London. Inevitably, that came up, but I also asked plenty of questions – you learn a lot by hearing how native speakers structure their sentences.
Damon’s spoke to a completely different set of people and we were able to swap notes afterwards. His favourites were Michèle, a divorced schoolteacher, and a chap who, apparently, was a very patient listener.
Otherwise known as ‘the blond hottie’.
“The idea is that English-speakers get 7 minutes or so to talk French with a native French-speaker, and then you swap”
Inevitably, people’s levels of linguistic competency varied but that didn’t seem to matter. The idea was that you would help the other person by simply having a conversation at their level and maybe fill in any missing vocab and they would do the same for you.
The Franglish evenings take place every Tuesday, somewhat appropriately, at the Queen’s Head.
Turnout was good on the night we went. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to go very often as I’m usually in London on Tuesdays.
Damon’s already booked to go again. I’m sure his enthusiasm has nothing to do with the blond hottie…