Most who have spent time in a non-English-speaking country know how incredibly hard it is to get by speaking only, “Hello! How are you? My name is Nicki.” Learning a brand-new language – French – has got to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever tried to do. Before I went abroad, I was very unforgiving when foreigners couldn’t speak English well. Seriously, you’re in the U.S. now and we speak English here. Join us.

But it’s not like you can just speak a new language instantly if you wish hard enough for it. As I was learning French and making feeble attempts to use it, people would correct me all the time (oh, how the French adore their language). Even when I thought I was speaking beautiful French, I probably sounded like this.

Because I struggled so much, now I’m usually very forgiving with foreigners who forget to match the subject with the verb or can’t quite pronounce everything perfectly. But I came across this list of signs that just didn’t get translated well, and I couldn’t stop giggling. “Choco Crack.” “White Trash Charms Japan.” In reference to a Western-style toilet: “Let’s use it beautifully because it is a sharing thing.” Come on, that’s hilarious! I’ve been seeing signs like this on the Internet since my friends and I first got e-mail addresses in seventh grade and we thought it was the funniest thing to send around links to dumb websites. Well, guess what? Still ROFL funny.

Now, please don’t think that I still believe everyone should be required to learn English to live in the U.S., just like it’s not necessary to learn French to live in Paris. However, knowing the language just makes life easier, both on you – the native – and them – the foreigners. Lately I’ve been using LiveMocha to keep up with my French, which is a site that teaches the user vocabulary, grammar and other language stuff.

“Ew, Nicki, that sounds like a class.” Yes, I know, it seems really boring. It’s not all dull and typical, though. The fun part is that I can speak to other people learning French, and I can speak to native users through LiveMocha chat. Awesome, no?

You’d rather not spend your free time learning a language? Fine. Try to beat Tetris instead.