OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Parlez-vous Francais?

Old Orchard Beach High School French students are looking for fluent French speakers with whom they can chat.

French teacher Catherine Charles said many of her students have summer jobs where they have to communicate with French-speaking customers from Canada. Charles said talking with a native speaker can be intimidating, especially if they’re not “sympathetic listeners,” and talk quickly or use slang.

To help her students become more comfortable with the language, she’s asking fluent speakers interested in coming to the school on a Wednesday to come in and talk with students in French. Volunteers can call the high school at 934-4461 or contact her at [email protected]

French III student Brandon Saucier works at his family’s hotel during the summer, and he said they have many French-speaking guests.

“I understand a good amount,” he said, but he said he needs to hone his French-speaking skills.

Student Mecedaidh Phalen said she used to speak French with her grandfather, who grew up in Augusta speaking French as his first language.

“He moved away, and no one speaks French anymore,” she said.

She said working at Funtown Splashtown USA, she was able to get some words across to customers, namely “la main droite,” which means “right hand,” when giving customers wristbands, but, like others in her class, she would like to be more fluent.

Bobbie-Jean Mariello also worked at Funtown during the summer as a ride operator. Knowing how to speak French has been helpful when giving customers safety instructions, he said.

Student Jennifer Palkovic worked at a pizza place downtown, and was often asked to give directions, which she was able to do, but then “they start going off,” and it’s hard to understand what people are saying.

“You can never have too much knowledge of French,” she said.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

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