Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Learning French

I'm blogging less because I'm sitting in a French class for four hours a week. Literally. Both classes are held entirely in French, and I'm getting to the point where I can understand most of what Professeur Samuel is saying (j'adore Professeur Samuel); responding to him without freezing first is another story altogether. I lose my confidence when I have to conjure the correct articles and verbs. Verb endings aren't that horrible right now; it's confusing etre (to be) and avoir (to have) constantly because the French use them differently than we do.

I can see that my hurdles of speaking are largely around the thinking process-- I try to translate English into French, word for word, as I speak, and it just doesn't work that way. The article usages are completely different. You aren't cold; you have cold. You aren't tired; you have tired. Or something like that.

The other problem is that I need to hit the books more. I feel like the time I've given over to learning French has been a generous four hours a week, but that's not enough. I need to compound it. The best I felt in class was when I had class on a Tuesday, came home, watched a film in French with English subtitles, and went back to class on Thursday. That was slightly more immersion.

The scope of the idiomatic underbelly of the language is extremely daunting. I remember thinking I'd never crack the surface when my friend Jenn explained to me that I was a little chicken, and that was a term of affection that women called one another. Ma petite poulet? Or is it mon? Because the masculine and feminine are a whole other wrench thrown in. I'm hoping that this part of it becomes second nature after I take the clues that the language can give to me; certain endings are always masculine, certain endings are always feminine, and there are exceptions for every rule.

I guess we're mired in our own abundance of idioms. I consider this as it's raining cats and dogs outside of my window. Or as Jim snores like a train in the other room. Or Jamie tries to read his book until the cows come home when it's time to hit the sack. I'm climbing a huge mountain, but shall persevere.


  1. Enjoyed your post, ma poule. As in "ça roule, ma poule?" Might clarify that whole female chicken confusion you raise here. xo

  2. Thanks, Jenn! Tonight we learned about the "BAGS" adjectives that precede the noun rather than follow it. Those that describe Beauty, Age, Goodness and Size. We're pow-wowing about next summer...

  3. I took French in college after three years of Spanish in high school - it was a disaster for me! I would try to remind myself "Don't answer in Spanish. Don't answer in Spanish.", but I always seemed to spit out some hybrid of the two when called on in class. I gave it up after a semester and took two more years of Spanish in college.

    I am envious of you, though! Just keep immersing yourself in the language and your summer vacations in France will be so much fun!

  4. i really like this - our teacher that teaches us our native language reprimands us when we try to translate to english or vice versa. "don't think in english" she says. it comes with immersion like you said - keep watching movies, read books and take the opportunity to speak whenever possible. you'll get there! btw, i learned spanish too but would love to learn French!