German in Germany
Fluency: long-broken college-level
There’s a comprehension line, where if they understood what I was saying, they’d just keep on going. If they didn’t, and they were young, they’d swap over to English. If they weren’t, and they didn’t, things got hairy. No one ever cared that I was speaking German either way.
Flemish in Belgium/Netherlands
Fluency: some traveler phrases, aided by knowledge of German
They were either delighted I tried or nice about figuring out what I meant. I frankly gave up, though, having already spent two weeks trying to speak German, after discovering that everyone spoke English.
French in France
Fluency: long, long-forgotten high school French, study
I was surprised at how nice Parisians were about French, to the point where they’d stop and talk to me about how to pronounce things. I felt like they were interested in having me speak French well.