Friday, March 16, 2012

Parlez-Vous Français?

Let's talk about speaking French.

For those of you who speak French or another language fluently (or multiple languages, sheesh), this post is not for you.  Because there may be a little whining and I don't expect to garner any sympathy from you.

To begin with, I had NO idea how difficult and painful this would be.  Yes, I watched Joe sweat through multiple layers of clothing each day in French class, wake up in the middle of the night from having nightmares in French, and drop 15 lbs in the 8 months of taking the language full time.  But oh dear me, I still thought it would be fine.  And come to find out, the things I thought I would struggle with (vocabulary, conjugating verbs) are actually the easy part.

I take French 3 times a week at the embassy.  Joe also takes 3 times a week at the embassy in addition to 2 hours of private one-on-one classes. (And he is AWESOME.  Except when he meant to tell a Moroccan official the other day that he had a long line outside his office and instead told him he had a nice A$$.  Gotta love similar pronunciations).  I have learned a lot about pronouns, comparatives, conjugation, future tense and (help me, Rhonda) past tense, but I still need a lot more conversational practice.  It  is really ALL about speaking.  I now understand why I learned next to nothing about Spanish in 3 years of high school and yet people that study abroad for 3 months come back fluent- they are speaking the language all the time!

Now, when I am out and about town I speak French: shopkeepers, waiters, service providers, etc.  It has become so natural to us both that when we were in London there were several times that we had to tamp down the "Bonjour" when we walked into a store.  Also, we are so used to language being difficult that we felt like we were "cheating" in London- it was just too easy!  (Except when they asked me for my chip and pin at the cash register, which is a different story)

After 6 months of class (and not much studying) I am to the point where if I think about it ahead of time I can communicate just about anything I need to and can read pretty well, but am tired of panicking when a shopkeeper says something back to me that I wasn't planning on.

So I have decided it is high time to take the bull by the horns.

Last week I told Khadija, my helper, that we needed to start speaking in French to each other all day.  Which is pretty painful.  (She of course speaks Arabic, French and English)  "D'accord", she said, smiling.  "Ok".  It has gone pretty well, and she is great about correcting/helping me when I am confused or stumble.  (which is generally every sentence)

I am going to start having a private lesson once a week.  This will also be painful.

We bought some TV series in French which is painful even for Joe.  But we continue because so many people swear they learned a language by watching TV.  I am skeptical.

Before closing I have to show you a picture of our French teachers, Janey and Marie Adele.  They are French- Moroccan (French citizens that grew up in Morocco) and have been friends since girlhood.  Joe and I have become good friends with them because of course there is a lot of laughter when I am "speaking" French.

Their voices sound exactly how you would imagine- deep and throaty from years of smoking.  And we love 'em.

So we'll see.  Wish me luck and I'll give you an update in a few months.

p.s. One more thing.  Any time Grayson hears any of us start speaking French he immediately starts saying, "Onjour! Onjour! Onjour!" Love that kid.

1 comment:

  1. J'espere que ton votre lecons sont facile ma chere. (is that right? ;))