Why do the Parisians Always Answer in English When I Talk in French?

June 6, 2018 | written by: Léa Tirard-Hersant

Reading time: 🕐 (3 minutes)

Read in: English

Question from: a French learner in the Quora community


SO many of my students experience this too. When they enter a shop and say “Bonjour,” the Parisian sales person almost automatically responds “How can I help you?”

Here’s how to react (just a few ideas):

  1. When they try to speak English, just pretend that you can’t understand them.
  2. Say you are Norwegian, and you are sorry but you can only speak Norwegian and French. From there, you can let the Parisian choose
  3. Why not start your next conversation with this old lady who is always there feeding birds at the Jardin du Luxembourg. Older people are the most friendly conversation partners!
  4. Accent IS KEY
  5. Use the “Bonjour” magic spell. But, can you say it well? 🙂 On this topic I recommend the first chapter of the book The Bonjour Effect, by Julie Barlow
  6. Wear a “Je parle Français” t-shirt
  7. Other ideas? Let me know, I would love to have other creative ideas to share them with my students too


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