Thank you Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland for your Multilingualism
The other main countries in Europe that speak French are Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland; however, they do not just have French as an official language. Belgium also has Dutch and German; Luxembourg has German and Luxembourgish; and Switzerland has German, Italian, and Romansh. What that means for language lovers is that certain websites have multiple translations and you can use one language to learn another as well as learn about the culture of the country at the same time.
If you like art, the Museum of Modern Art Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM)’s website is in French and German. Maybe you’d like to know train vocabulary in German, French and Italian. Try Switzerland’s official rail company. Need to learn words for various food and grocery items so you know what to ask for at the store? Auchandrive.fr is available in French and Dutch thanks to Belgium. (Just choose a store that is on the border, such as Leers.) Then just use two browsers and put the windows side by side to compare the vocabulary.
Of course there are many other websites that provide translations into other languages, such as Wikipedia, but the content isn’t always the same so it’s much harder to compare. Another reason to use websites based in multilingual countries is so you can be sure (well, almost) that the translations are correct. Multilingual countries make much more of an effort to ensure quality translations by hiring professional translators – and not using computer translations – so that all of their citizens can have access to information in their native language(s).
Even though France is a monolingual country, a lot of resources are translated into English for tourists, but I’ve come across too many French websites with English translations that were obviously copied from Google Translate. The official tourism website, france.fr, does offer translations in four languages and even though I haven’t seen any mistakes in the English translations so far, the content is not exactly the same or even in the same place on each version so it’s difficult to compare and use it properly as a learning tool.
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