(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

returning to our irregular programming.

between Dennis Kucinich and Cheech & Chong, I may have confused my audience. So back to the scheduled French report live from ... you guessed it ... France!

I may have mentioned that I have begun French lessons. I started with a one-week, intensive, group program with 5 participants, including me. There were four women and one man, including an English couple and two women - one American, one English (and then me). why does this bring to mind those word problems from 6th grade math ...

The school was recommended to me by my friend Marjo. Its located in Thiviers, about 25km from me. La Petite Maison des Langues is owned by Laurence Saunders and offers classes in French and English. She is a very kind and effective teacher. I was interviewed by phone to determine my speaking ability and placed in the Nouveaux Intermediate group. I think this is basically the next step after beginner; there are 2 levels of intermediate and then on to advanced. I'm shocked I made it there given my lack of professiona

Everyone in the group had been taking lessons for some period of time. I have not attended lessons since high school ... so my trepidations began during introductions. I quickly discovered there was a broad range of ability in the group. Some with better vocabulary and grammar ... but so-so on the pronunciation and spontaneity. The other American in the class, god bless her cotton socks ... has a very strong accent and apparently no one has told her yet about the importance of being able to reproduce French sounds. The uuu-ing and ahn-ing that go on. (See RG, I told ya). And then there is me, stuck in the verb present and mixing conjugations right and left. But with a good accent. And the willingness to just go for it. Laurence says she is impressed that I always find a way to express myself even with a lesser vocabulary/grammar. yay me!

Speaking French 3 hours a day (in the MORNING-ack) was draining and exhilirating at the same time. But I'm so glad I did it, it kick-started my zeal for improving my French. And now, I have 2 things in my favor ... Jean-Yves is back (daily free language practice) and I am taking 1:1 classes 2x a week for 2 hours each lesson. This will go on for 4 weeks and then a new group forms in the fall.

The downside of all of this is I've discovered just how much I've been getting wrong with regards to grammar and vocabulary. How embarrassing! Apparently I might as well just have a big Touriste stamped on my forehead with all of my "c'est possibles" and "je voudrais's". harumph.

So RG, you and me kiddo. Let's be French class pen-pals and buddies. Remember homework buddies?


Randal Graves said...

If three French students are on a train that left Lyon at 13:27 going 60 kph....

C'est une bonne idée mon amie! One of the worst feelings is knowing EXACTLY what you want to say, having a decent amount of vocabulary TO say that thing, but not having a clue on the verb.

Oh avoir et être, vous deux sont très sexy, mais je dois connaître les autres verbes. Vous comprenez, non ?

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

mais oui, bien sur! Mon professeur m'a dit il-y-a quatre verbes sont trés importante ... avoir, etre, faire, et aller.

Pour moi, j'ai oublis la conjugation tous le temps!

(whew-je suis fatigueé avec la francais! ou est LaF?)

Our Juicy Life said...

trés bien mon ami. Je suis si fier de vous. Oui, ces quare verbes sont trés important. Restez avec le présent, le passé composé, futur immédiat et tu ferais très bien. (there are probably so many mistakes with the writing of this)

je ne peux pas attendre pour parle le français avec tu.

RG- look that those accents!!!

Our Juicy Life said...

How are the dogs?

La Framéricaine said...

Es-tu sure?
Are you sure?

T'es sure? (inflection creating your question mark?)

You sure? (inflection creating your question mark?)

You know how those strange little people buy all those expensive winter clothes and shoes, not to mention gear, and then rent those other people to carry said gear to the top of places with names like Fuji, Kilimanjaro, and Everest with the sole intention of planting some spiked object at the top to mark their, dubious, achievement?

Well, in my humble opinion, your trek to language school and every new verb spiked with your pencil to paper in a conjugation exercise are equally impressive feats with a much longer shelf life and ar greater utility.

Hey! I'm very big on utility.

There is absolutely no way out but through. Please, take it from me. Never waste a moment thinking anything else is an option.

Every time your face heats up because you know that you are going to risk speaking up, know that it is totally normal. You just do your bit with a hot face. Or cold hands. Or whatever your rational mind does to try to shut you up and make you back down.

Les mots et la musique de la langue françaises vont s'installer tout doucement dans vos espirit, vos memoires, vos coeurs, vos âmes, vos vies, vos relations quotidiennes, et vos journaux intimes à force de les aimer, de les acceuillir, et de les utiliser.

I can hardly wait to speak to all of you in French!

Randal Graves said...

J'ai puer de suivre quelqu'un qui parler français ! Ah, Kim, tous les temps sont, s'ils ne soient pas d'énigme, on (d'accord, moi) oublie souvent la fois appropriée en utiliser.

C'est facile quand on lit un livre, mais quand on est en train de parler avec quelqu'un...yikes !

OJL, j'adore les accents !

La Belette Rouge said...

So, it is not a good thing to say Je voudrais? oops. Je suis une grande touriste.

I have only done classes for 2 1/2 hours at a time and each week I would leave avec une grande migraine.
At this rate you will be parlezing like a native in no time at all.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

LBR- Can you believe it?? apparently its the worst. Much better to use je prends ... and il faut instead of c'est possible-hmmm. where IS that LaF? I love her comments re: the language...

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

oh derr- I see I missed it. hangs head. sorry LaF!

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

RG-so true, my teacher disallows the dictionary and reference in the class. reading is easier, I think.

LaF-now that I've recovered from overlooking you a bit, I must say I can't wait to speak with you either. I imagine you are the patient sort who will gently correct and speak slowly when necessary. sigh, a dream!

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

OJL-the doggies are great, adjusting nicely and loving the weather! much dirtier than in the states... ha

Randal Graves said...

Hell, reading is FAR easier than speaking. Dirtier than the states? What do you expect from that hedonistic nation.

La Framéricaine said...

I remember when I was younger, in my 30s and I met people who had, or were getting, their degrees,usually a BA, in French. I was so envious, but at the same time I noticed that they did not speak. They could read and write but they were afraid to speak.

I, on the other hand, was dying to speak and would waylay any Francophone in San Francisco, and there were many--from Cameroon, Zaire, Québec, France, Switzerland, and the Caribbean--and trade knowledge of the city or a marriage for the opportunity to practice my French. You can't say I wasn't committed!

Hey! Don't worry, if you missed me, perhaps I'm getting thinner!

Our Juicy Life said...

why is it not good to say je voudrais?

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

OJL-Je voudrais works in some conversations - but as we yanks were taught (for restaurants, etc.) it is not the French way and a sure sign of TOURIST. So, while it is not technically incorrect, if one wants to use the local vernacular, Je voudrais une verre de vin rouge would not be the choice (or other stuffs!)

La Framéricaine said...

I don't think that reading French is easier than speaking French. I think that your face just doesn't get as hot when you do it, so it seems easier. And your mind doesn't resist what you are putting it through as much.