Like many other new language learners, I have a big anxiety when it comes to speaking French to French people.

I can speak French to my wife because she speaks… very … slowly … to … me in French and gives me time to mentally translate. But your bog-standard French person isn’t going to do that (nor should they!)

I was very reluctant to try speaking any French at all, until Julie pointed out an interesting phrase to me:

Le truc.

Rough translation? ‘The thing’

Before, if I hit a word I didn’t understand, the object would loom up before me, all fearsome and scary, making me feel small for not knowing the simple word to describe it. I’ve done a little doodle on my phone to help represent it:

What is it? What is the word? I DON’T KNOW!

But then I learnt le truc and it was strangely freeing. I was suddenly allowed to gesture towards an object I didn’t know the word for and say ‘le truc’. I had the ability to name things. It’s a powerful ability I didn’t realise that I needed so much. Now, it was more like this:

Some many trucs. So little time.

Now, I have never actually had to use le truc yet in real-life conversation, but knowing it is there, always in my pocket ready to support me, makes me feel a lot more confident about speaking in French.

Je vais m’autoriser à faire des erreurs.


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