I am ashamed to admit that I am only in proficient in English. Despite taking Spanish from first grade to junior year, I never became fluent, and thus have become one of “those Americans” that only speaks English. I am glad that Prof. Savage has assigned us some language work to do before leaving so that we can get around and know the basics for conversations when we arrive.
We are using Lonely Planet’s French Phrasebook and CD to learn the basics beforehand. I uploaded the tracks to iTunes and then put them on my phone so that I can listen to them while driving to work (I suppose I also could have just put the CD in my car, but that would have been too easy).
It’s been good to practice the sounds and pronunciations while in the car, but because I am a visual person it has been harder to memorize specific phrases and learn words so that I can recognize them when they are written out, like when I am walking through the airport and looking for the train.
To better memorize words, I’ve gone back to my old high school tactic of flash cards. It is odd to work on a language without formal instruction, but hope that if I have some basics, the all-essential “Parlez-vous anglais?” (do you speak english?), and then manners, which likely transcend language barriers, that I will get by.