Discuss the Article : Speaking Terms (A Comic Look At Language Learning)
How do people respond when you try speaking the language you're learning? Here's a light-hearted look at the frustrations of many language learners!
The cartoon is based on the authors trip to Lyon (look it here http://www.itchyfeetcomic.com/2012/01/earlier-comics.html#.VJFPbCusX3o)
I've never had a problem myself, I love France, but many students told me their bad experience in Paris. Clerks refusing to serve English speaking clients in an international train station (ignoring them like they were not in the room), normal people pulling faces and starting to walk backward when a learner asked them something in intermediate French, people saying rude things about a Japanese not realising she understood French too. People just being "cold" with foreign students... Actually, my dad and sister had a bad experience too! We are French Speakers from Canada, so they have an accent. When they asked something (in French), they were both (separately in different occasions) answered back in English. They thought this was the rudest thing ever. So, there. A little collection of hard facts, not stereotypes.
I like humor. Laughter is good for health and social life. However, the perceived attitude of the French in this cartoon seems false. Stereotypes are reducing and may even be dangerous. They let believe that a nation is good or bad. They are the first step towards racism. So be careful. The nations are never consistent. Each individual is different. Perhaps the author has had bad luck, but most of the French I know are warm and welcoming to foreigners.
Try learning French in Québec! I've been told we are quite friendly and even delighted when someone wants to learn our language!
I think, that it depends on the context and the way the student speaks. In international groups it's common to meet people who don't consider their own culture as important and aren't that open-minded to share it with students.
In Europe there is a strong in/out-group mentality, which means that you're either a person of their community or not and when you're not, they assume automatically that you don't know anything about them and that you don't understand them..