/ Working in France if your French is sh**e

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Ben Sharp - on 17 Mar 2013
Been thinking about working abroad for a while, learning a new language and getting out of the UK. Was wondering if anyone had any advice about what the likely avenues are for working in France over the summer at the moment.

I've worked in service roles (mostly catering and recently an outdoors shop) for about 6 years, have a degree and can turn my hand to a reasonably varied amount of practical tasks, although have no practical qualifications/trades under my belt. Trouble is my French is pretty rubbish, apart from the very basics and the usual profanities that stick in your head.

Would probably be looking towards the south west of the country not a million miles away from Cham but preferably not actually there. I take it that like the rest of the world there's climbing venues everywhere so not massively fussed about being right next to the climbing magnet locations.

Any information greatly appreciated
IainRUK - on 17 Mar 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: Anything to do with science is generally OK.. Uni's..

I work in Germany, the old east, so no locals speak english.. well only the young.. yet english is the work language..
Ben Sharp - on 17 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK: 'Fraid my degree's in philosophy so not the most vocational subject in the world...unless someone wants to pay me to sit in a café and gush over Camus!
Rob Exile Ward on 17 Mar 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: FWIW I worked in Cham one summer many years ago - just turned up, went to the local employment office, and started work that aftenoon as a plongeur - dishwasher. I had hardly any French to speak of, and wanted to learn, but everyone I worked with (and they were a great bunch) were keener to try their English on me than let me practice my French on them! But I got by fine.
dinkypen - on 17 Mar 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

A couple of points that I hope you will find useful
1) "Would probably be looking towards the south west of the country not a million miles away from Cham". Can I suggest you check the map to see where Chamonix is located, as I think you are getting your Alps confused with your Pyrenees ;-)
2) If you are considering working around Cham you won't need any French language skills as English is spoken very widely
3) If you are wanting to go abroad to learn French, consider Help-Xing with a French family http://www.helpx.net/
Ben Sharp - on 17 Mar 2013
In reply to dinkypen: hehe, cheers for the pointers. Should probably pretend my French geography really is that poor in case anyone reading this goes into the hills with me but I just got my east and west mixed up!

Would really be looking for something paid and staying ideally in a van or camp sites/hostels.
Doug on 17 Mar 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: When I arrived for my first stay in France my French was, to say the least, limited (GCE O level some 10 years earlier) but it was a research job & although the lab language was French it was possible to get by as all the senior staff, & most of the grad students spoke English if they had to (this was 20 years ago). That was in NE France & my social life would have been very restricted if I hadn't learnt some basic French pretty quickly. But I did, had a great time & after being back in Scotland for a few years jumped at the chance to go back.

I'm sure not speaking French wouldn't be a problem in Chamonix, but I'm not sure you would end up learning French either.

jon on 17 Mar 2013
In reply to Doug:

> I'm sure not speaking French wouldn't be a problem in Chamonix, but I'm not sure you would end up learning French either.

Yes Doug, sadly Chamonix is almost anglophone.

Epic Ebdon - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Why not work a bit on your language skills before you go? It is very much the case that if you know a bit, you'll learn a lot more quickly than if you know nothing. It might also help you avoid picking up (some!) bad habits right from the start.

I know it seems like (and it is!) a lot of effort to learn a language, but it is totally worth it. It will make your life a lot easier, it makes making friends a lot easier, it shows a respect for the country to which you're moving, it means you get a much better experience of the culture of your chosen country etc. etc. It can also be very helpful with employment if/when you come back to the UK. Language learning is not something that you can't do once you've left school, and you don't have to be a "languages" person. I certainly wasn't/am not. I hated languages in school, but in the end, you get the hang of it.
Ben Sharp - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Epic Ebdon: Hi, thanks for everyones replies. I would do my best to learn as much before I go but think it would probably come a bit quicker if you're actually in the country.

I'm not sure whether it's easier to find work at the start of the summer as apposed to waiting a few months and going mid summer?
Trangia - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Font is a good area to learn French. It's not very widely spoken in the bars and shops which means you have to try a lot harder.
999thAndy on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: if you want to expand your vocab, check out memrise www.memrise.com A 5 minutes a day way to improve your language skills. I've just started and it seems to be fairly painless.
andrew breckill - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: mate of mine been out there a few years now, he said forget about any jobs were you interact with French speakers if you cannot speak Decent French. As to professional jobs, most people in France have a degree and will be given job in pref to jonnhy English, it's tough to get a job there and you need to be very determined to make a go off it out there.
yorkshireman - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to andrew breckill:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp) As to professional jobs, most people in France have a degree and will be given job in pref to jonnhy English, it's tough to get a job there and you need to be very determined to make a go off it out there.

France has a high unemployment rate and so naturally its difficult to find a job in the first place, and then you're up against native speakers. There was a thread on here the other day complaining about a barperson in an English pub who couldn't speak English, so why would we expect other countries to make exceptions? Speaking the local language to a reasonable level is not too much to ask.

However, I believe the OP wants to work in a touristy area where speaking English would be a benefit, but this really needs to be augmented with learning French.

To the OP: I know you said it will come quicker when you get there, but start learning now. As in today. Even if you just spend 10 minutes. Learning a language is something you do for the rest of your life (you never 'perfect' it) so don't waste a day. Coffee Break French podcasts are a great introduction. They're only 5-10 minutes long, I'm sure you could easily listen to one a day.

I live and work in France, for a large (non-French) multinational. Our company business language is English, but in the Paris office everybody speaks French to each other but switches to English for meetings/dealing with foreign colleagues. Where I live, the locals don't speak English so it forces me to learn, which I really enjoy. However, I couldn't actually do my job if I was forced to speak French in a business environment right now.

Just do it though. We're in the EU (for now), so just get in your camper and go over there and see what you can find. What's the worst that can happen? Travel around, make friends and contacts, and learn the country and the language and you will be in a much better position to a) know that this is really what you want to do, and b) actually make a success of it.

Good luck
Dave Perry - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Ben

Don't worry too much about the lack of language skills. Most folk of your age will rapidly pick-up a foreign language. My own two step daughters moved abroad in their mid twenties with zero knowledge of the language. It didn't take them more than a few weeks to understand the basic 'must have' phrases, but it did take a few more months to to be able start communicating beyond this. But they did this without the benefit of any knowledge of the language before they went and totally without prior knowledge.
New POD - on 19 Mar 2013
There's always EUROCAMP in ANnecy ? (is that the spelling ?)

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