Learning a new languages one of the more difficult things I have ever done. It is an exhausting journey filled with “oh I finally understand this” to “what the hell?!?” to even “there is no way they are speaking French right now, maybe it’s Spanish? German? Mandarin?” (in case you were wondering 11 times out of 10 it’s French).
Whether you speak french fluently or not at all here are the top 5 “need to know”phrases/ words that au pairs know just as well as any English phrase. Just as a side note, this list consists of phrases that you may need to say to your children and phrases that you may hear your children say to each other every 30 seconds.
- Tais-toi which is equivalent to shut up. Although I *never* ever * say this to my children I swear to you I hear this phrase at least 7 trillion times a day. Normally whenever my 13 year old guy says, he is either extremely annoyed at his sister or he is trying to get her to not tell their parents that he hit her. Whenever my 8 year old says it she is normally being haughty. Either way this is the #1 phrase ever French au pair either needs to know or already knows (a little too well).
- Connard aka asshole. I know that the translate says it means asshole but I think that the ACTUAL translate is a little tiny bit more mild. This word is normally said when describing bad drivers, stupid people in general or when my kids are arguing (which normally only happens as SOON as a parent returns home). In fact, tais-toi and connard often go hand in hand.
- Dépêche-Toi / hurry up. This is the French phrase that I personally use the most. My 8 year old walks painfully slow, takes the longest showers, eats like a turtle, and takes 10.5 years to change her clothes. It is for those very reasons that this phrase has become my “go to”. It’s a definite must know in my opinion.
- Que ce qui se passe or in english what is happening. My children never really say this phrase but I whisper it to myself multiple times a day. I mostly say it when my children start fighting for no reason, I’m confused in French class, I’m watching French commercials, or when I’m driving (French people are crazy).
- Ce n’est pas grave which means it’s okay/ it’s not serious. I say this phrase quite often, as does my boy. Normally we say it when my girl gets herself in a fit for no apparent reason “oh don’t worry, ce n’est pas grave”. I also say it to my friends when I spend foreverrr waiting for them *cough cough Molly & Alice EVEN THOUGH IT IS très grave!!
So there you have it. There are lots of other little phrases that I feel are important to know (such as basic manners and questions) but strictly from an au pair’s perspective these ones are the ones I can guarantee every au pair living in France knows, or will know in the VERY near future