Saturday, March 7, 2015

Language Barrier Breakthrough

I haven't done language exchange in quite some time. If you have ever read my blog before, you know full well that this is an issue rife with ups and downs, pros and cons, moments of living in the moment seize the day sort of euphoria matched equally with moments of wait how did that just turn into a date with a married and/or in a relationship Frenchman? Needless to say, I go through phases of thinking this is a good way to practice my language skills often followed by phases of keeping an epic amount of distance. Why do I not make a larger effort to meet with other GIRLS for language exchange? An obvious question, to be sure. The answer includes reasons like the fact that females are a tricky breed, French females even more so, and frankly I have a billion female friends as it is. I am single, I am running around Europe, I am an obscene romantic, and I might as well indulge in a bit of male attention while practicing a language supposedly renowned for romance. One day there will be a man who thinks I am just that little bit extra special enough to make a princely gesture, fight through strange dwarfs or treacherous thickets and climb my blonde locks in pursuit of my shining soul. Until that day comes, I will do my very best not to technicolor myself into a Disney animated classic.

That being said, I once again became frustrated enough with learning French to seek out some rendezvous. I go to classes (sometimes) and use my 5-10 boring French phrases on a daily basis. But via the grammatically-centered French learning system in general, combined with the fact that I teach English every day, speak to most of my friends in English and can rarely shut up regardless, speaking is the most difficult of all. I therefore set up some meetings. Now, unbeknownst even to myself, I have apparently been learning more than I had thought over the past few weeks slash months slash years in France. Yesterday I met with a guy for an early evening drink and for whatever reason found myself engaging in French from the first moment, producing rapid repartee of a degree I was never aware existed in my current skill set. I have always known that starting the exchange in English is a ginormous no-no. Little did I realize, however, that beginning in French gave me a strange level of confidence that would persist throughout the meeting. I actually had a moment where I felt like it might be easier to explain what I meant in French rather than English... What the WHAT?! My brain normally rejects precision via the gallic tongue. Yet here I was, openly communicating in a language I normally want to guillotine right along side that crazy Marie Antoinette. Sorry girl, I love the dresses but so help me God if I have to consider gender specification for even one more second I might have to light Versailles on fire.

Not only that, but the following day I met with another gentleFrenchman, and found that this brand new phenomenon had prevailed. The weather was fine, the sun shining, the ripples à la Seine were flickering in the breeze as I made my way to a café with another guy I continued to word vomit to in brilliant français! Now let's be real, not at all brilliant. But I did manage to produce complete sentences without pause, making few grammatical errors, not stopping to consider what I was going to say and lasting more than 60 seconds at a time. Something clearly has clicked, my friends, something clearly has clicked. And while there is absolutely no way on Earth that this miracle of miracles will last for more than a shining star beacon day or two, I will embrace, I will brag, and I will wear that little lightbulb of spontaneous epiphany just as confidently as all the other cartoon creatures of the world... And I will wear it atop a sparkly pink beret!


  1. Enjoyed your post. Yea for breakthroughs!

  2. Would love to hear your French one way or another; looking for pointers myself. Haha! Anyway, it's good to know that your French is good enough to hold a decent conversation. And I must say, you know your way with words because your entry is hilarious!

    Israel Oliver @ Atlas Translations Ltd