Unfortunately, I must say besides only remebering a few words and phrases here and there from my THREE YEARS of French in high school, I don't remember anything and thus must answer the question, "No, I do not speak French."
If only I knew back then that I would be living in Holland, have French friends, and actually be in France from time to time, maybe I would have paid attention. I am sitting on the train right now on my way to Paris and I hear the French language everywhere. It is very disappointing to me that I can't even pick up on a little bit of it. Not that I want to be fluent in it, I don't live in a French speaking country after all, it would be nice though if I would have taken French more seriously in school and could use it at some level now.
Really though, I would like to seriously question my three years of French. What did I really learn? I could not even say anything at all in French while I was even in the classes. I don't want to point fingers at the school or the teachers (I did have 2 really good teachers, 1 that sucked) but why don't I know anything?? I think I want to say it was a serious lake of motivation at the time. Sure I knew enough to pass the tests, but that was about it, I could not have a conversation, shit, I could not even make simple sentences then...
I think language classes in the US should first point out how truly valuable it really is to know another language. The students, I think, need to really want to learn the language first, and coming from the US, we (and ya I am including myself at the time) think that English in the whole whole..."why the hell should we learn another language, that is just stupid." Also, during the course of study, the importance of languages should be reinforced. If I could go back, knowing what I know now, you better believe my French would be better, and who knows, maybe I would have even took more than three years as well... I just remember that I could not wait to be done with my third year so that I could fulfill the requirement that most colleges had in order to be accepted. Get in, do the work, get out, that was my mindset, no wander I don't remember anything. Man, I would kill for those kind of lessons right now in Dutch!
I realize that it is not to late for me to learn French now, but there are so many other possibilities at this point. First of all, I'm not sure if it would be a great idea to learn to languages at once, and second of all, maybe there is another language I would like to learn instead. Maybe even Italian, the language of my great grandparents. For right now, I want to put all I have into learning Dutch, it is really starting to get interesting now that I can have actual conversations with people. Though simple and awkward, conversations non the less, and I must say, that makes me really happy.
I knew this post would somehow start to sway towards Dutch, but I'm done talking about that now. I think the next time I come to France, I am going to put a little bit of effort into learning some of the basics. And who knows, maybe some of it will come back to me from school without much effort, hey, that would be nice! :-)