Saturday, January 18, 2014

La Fin Du Semestre

After several months of studying French, I still have very little idea what I am saying most of the time. As I have mentioned in previous posts, Paris is a metropolis, full of foreign travelers, tourists, and natives quite keen on practicing their English. It is quite possible for me to go an entire day using only English if I choose, and though I have been accused more than once of not exercising my French skills appropriately, it remains quite tricky for someone who uses words to express a kaleidoscope of thought and feeling. Not to mention the fact that many people, upon hearing my accent or discerning a mistake in language, will switch right on over to English without a second thought. And in the age of globalization, English remains the universal tongue, a double-edged sword for someone dreaming of bilingual babies. On the other hand, I'm starting to become convinced that only a true English speaker could spend his life deciphering the expansive vocabulary I often use when frolicking about. No worries, however, as I once dreamed of having merbabies too.

But I digress... My classes ended up being much more challenging than I had originally expected. I was placed in a level surprisingly higher than I thought I would be eligible for based on the assessment test. I was delighted to take on the challenge, but as the semester progressed, I realized how many things I had learned over ten years ago, and just didn't have the time to go back and review in preparation for building new vocabulary and more advanced grammar. In addition, my classes were at 8am, a schedule chosen by myself to accommodate the many other obligations I tried to fit into my afternoons and evenings. Word to the wise... Don't take language classes at 8am... ever... especially in winter, especially when you enjoy the occasional glass of wine, and especially when the sun doesn't come up in January until almost 9 in the morning. 

The other downside? While the Sorbonne has acclaim and clout and prestige oozing out of its namesake, their curriculum conveniently overlooks what I consider to be the most important part of learning a language... conversation. French can be a difficult lingua franca, full of pronouns, tenses, and intricate patterns of speech that are far less than intrinsic to a native English speaker. If I cannot use the things I learn, they most likely fall into one ear and come crashing out the other. And for someone who generally can't shut up to save her soul, it just becomes easier to be clear and articulate in my mother tongue most of the time. The good news is that I now have over three weeks off to sleep past 6am, review the things lost to the wilderness of my memory, and jump into the spring time semester of good cheer with a confident French grin : )

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