during my frenzied search for a couch about a week ago, i made an account on couchsurfing.com and discovered a group of people that regularly met at various bars to practice speaking in different languages. it was called the polyglot club, and it was exactly what i was looking for, in terms of networking, meeting interesting people, and working on the five or so languages i’d eventually like to learn.
i invited a couple friends along, but i was the first one to show up at the bar, which was located in the 3rd arrondissement down a relatively quiet street. it was drizzling lightly, about 9 pm, and i lingered outside for a few minutes, wondering if i should wait for my friends or just walk inside and do the awkward hovering thing until i summoned the courage to approach a group of people and start…talking. i firmly squashed down my shyness and walked inside the sweltering bar, and was almost immediately approached by a friendly french man who asked my name and what language i’d like to speak tonight? french, please. and then i was introduced to another french man who was learning english, and while i spoke to him in probably-not-so-great french and he replied in halting english, i wondered, as i often do, exactly what i had been so nervous about.
my friends showed up a little while later, and the small group we eventually formed migrated outside to cool off, exchanging cultural ideas and occasionally correcting each others’ misconceptions or grammar errors. i learned about the bateaux-mouches (fly boats) that float along the seine (a huge tourist attraction, apparently). we discussed the frequency and questionable effectiveness of france’s strikes. the difference between american and french mcdonald’s. ordering beer in france and america – here, you order by [hair] color: brune or blanche; while in america you simply order by brand. the impossible task of finding an apartment in paris.
everyone had a good time, and exchanged information so we could get in touch before the next meeting. i don’t think i’ll practice french next time though – maybe i’ll sit with a group of people speaking spanish and see how much of the conversation i can follow.
i wonder how many languages one can learn simultaneously before their brain explodes?