Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Le Phone App, C'est Crap

DH is a person who studies for vacation. I mean, everybody plans for vacation to a greater or lesser degree, but DH full on studies. I would say that he is not super "into" doing any particular things really hard, but lemme tell you - this guy is going to fricking ace our Christmas vacation this year.

I admire his dedication; it means I don't have to do anything to prepare.

He has been sleuthing online, reading a big stack of travel guides, surveying his friends and colleagues - all the typical stuff. Most impressively, he has been studying the language every day, using a phone app. Currently, the app is telling DH he is 39% fluent in French, and an app would never, like, grossly misrepresent its efficacy or anything, right?

Okay, I am trying really hard not to rain on my own upcoming relaxation-thanks-to-someone-else's-hard-work parade, but I have to say I do sortof question the phone app's methods sometimes. Not that my own non-app experiences in learning French were necessarily any better - I took French classes for twelve years in school and I couldn't hold a conversation with a Kindergartner. (Though to be fair, school was a pretty long time ago, and no one ever promised me I was 39% fluent.)

Back around 18% fluency, I felt the app had leaned heavily on some pretty bullshit phrases. I can hear DH practicing every night, and it is across the board stuff like, "I eat tomatoes." "The woman wears a hat." "The cat is brown."

(Actually, DH is a bit of a yeller as a general rule, and when he's talking to his phone app or any relatives on his mother's side he's even louder. So if you're imagining this scene, make sure your imaginary DH is shouting non sequiturs en Francais for 20 minutes every night. "I ENJOY SALAD!" "HE READS A BOOK!") (Imaginary DH should also be wearing plaid, for historical accuracy.)

Around 31%, things started getting downright absurd: I kid you not, one night I heard DH exclaim, "THE SHARK IS FOUR!" ... Huh?

And now, nearing 40% fluency, the app has moved right along to completely inappropriate statements that you would not just never use as a regular non-lobotomized adult human, but could never use because one cannot simply go around shouting, "HE IS FAT BECAUSE HE EATS FRENCH FRIES!" no matter how true it might be.

To give the app credit, all of this is a far cry from DH's previous level of French-speaking ability. When we had a French exchange student stay with us, he greeted her the first day by yelling, "LE BAGUETTE! HAR HAR HAR!" Like, full Awkward Movie Dad mode. It was mortifying, and I had a distinct lingering fear that I was going to have to gag DH and lock him in a cupboard for the duration of our vacation for precisely this reason. So while shouting "I EAT TOMATOES!" all over France would probably make him look like a bit of a moron, at least he would seem like a health-conscious, inoffensive sort of moron. However, making judgmental proclamations about people's dietary choices has brought us right back to those cringe-worthy "baguette" days of yore. What the hell is this app thinking?

We're only at 39% so I'm willing to hold out a bit longer for the big reveal, where the pieces all fall into place for Awkward Movie Dad and he is transformed into a normal human who can successfully make polite, sensible statements in the context of realistic life situations. But let it be known, phone app, that if you have not seriously started to turn things around by 65% fluency or mid-November, whichever comes first, I am going to Uninstall your ass and we're gonna do this the old-fashioned way instead: rely on our bilingual eldest child as an interpreter.