What Happens When You Lose Your Voice in a Foreign Language

There is much (and perhaps more) to be learned from entering a foreign country, even when one does not speak the language or understand the culture.

This sentiment is beautifully summed up in this short film by multinational filmmaker Nathaniel Drew, the first in a series titled, “What I Learned From The French.” In it, Drew explores the dizzying confusion that accompanies entering France for the first time and trying to make sense of it without having a serious command of the French language. Feeling “as if he has duct tape on his mouth,” Drew takes a break from focusing on his inability to speak, and learns to listen.

Anyone who has gone to France and isn’t a native French speaker will connect with this short. Your voice, your opinions, your jokes, are all held captive by your monolingual tongue, or your hesitation to exercise your bilingual abilities.

This beautiful little art film describes the sensation of silence following one of first great tragedies to befall France in the past couple of years, and serves as a powerful reminder that, in order to truly learn about a country and its people, sometimes the most important thing that one can do is listen, and hear what that country has to say for itself. And don’t forget to turn on the subtitles if, like Drew, your French is not yet parfait.