I flew into the Charles de Gaulle for the first time in '06 not speaking a lick of French and having only heard it by playing Amelie about a thousand times in a row. I did read the unabridged version of Hugo's Les Miserables in high school but I scarcely think that counts as I was pronouncing all the Ss. Pathetique! But I managed and learned a thing or two about traveling among those who do not understand me. I think I did well in Spanish class because I was speaking with my hands well before the beginning of my fascination for language. It aided me here, too. The first restaurant had me convinced I knew what in the world I was saying...by the time I was leaving for England from Caen
I knew better. Much of our time in France was a fiasco! But aside from being the resident "mommy" to my charges, I had a beautiful time. I recommend doing the tour in reverse if you are with children as they seem to forget all manners and take to grunting to show what they want. By the time we had gotten to our hostle in Oxford, we were spending most of our time trying to explain that the English ARE speaking english that we speak and they need to use "their words" to ask for the things they wanted.
To be continued...