I work in a place where *technically* we should be fluent in French. However, I live in a place (Vancouver) where French isn't spoken very much.
And, I grew up in a place (St. John's) where French wasn't really spoken at all, in a time when French immersion wasn't even a glimmer amongst the curriculum planners.
So French wasn't really spoken at all, except for the following kinds of conversations (raise your hand if you were there in grade 7):
Tu connais Marcel Martin?
Oui, je le connais. Nous sommes de bons copains.
Oui. Qui est-ce?
Ici Elise Fournier. Tu es libre ce soir?
Tu va a la bibliotheque?
As you can see, these kind of French classes weren't designed to actually be useful in real life (though we had a great French teacher named Mrs. Crosbie who always tried to spice it up a little for us).
In any event, last year, our staff took French class. Once a week for about 2 hours with a real French teacher who gave us real French homework and everything. And we even declared Wed. "French Day" and attempted to address one another ONLY in French (which led to a lot of sign language......)
In any event, a few days ago I was covering the front desk for our receptionist at lunchtime. A call came in and I picked up the phone and answered in BOTH OFFICIAL LANGUAGES.
The person on the other end spoke to me in French. And guess what? I didn't shriek or ANYTHING! I answered him! Perhaps not well. Or maybe I inadvertently told him to "hold the mustard" or some such thing...... but the point is that:
a) I didn't panic
b) I spoke to the nice man in ANOTHER LANGUAGE
c) he didn't laugh at me or hang up! He actually said "Merci beaucoup".
Smug. I am now very, very smug.
Pardonez? Je ne comprends pas......