Dear Diary 4

Dear Diary
I am now starting the second week here at the Instut de Francais. Monday seemed really hard-hard to get started thinking and speaking French in class again even though I did, mostly, speak French with Maurice while he was here on the weekend. We begin our days in the lab where we listen to French phrases in French and repeat them into a microphone -a process I find tiring and rather difficult. It’s hard to listen and repeat without interaction of any other kind. After going through the exercises the second time I finally start hearing and could repeat most of what I heard. The teacher listens in to each of us and I’m sometimes surprised when she says something to me when I’m trying hard to hear what is being said. She usually corrects some pronunciation. The lab has various names among the students, torture chamber being just one.
The second session is with another teacher and it is a discussion on a various activities such as phone calls and all of the special vocabulary that goes with that. Then another short class with more talking and using French with repetition. And, finally, lunch. We always have a teacher at our table to keep us on the straight and narrow although, really, everyone makes an effort to only speak French. I don’t hear people cheating. The teachers are good at correcting our French and helping us when we come to a complete halt unable to find the right French word which happens quite often. Someone can be plugging along trying to say something and then suddenly stop, gazing into space looking for a lost word. Sometimes it comes, sometimes not.

After lunch we have another teacher working on another area such as numbers or a verb tense. We get a thirty minute break, badly needed by then. Then back to our usual teacher for more talking and learning in French and we finally end at 4:45 (we start at 9). Tea is offered but I haven’t gone yet. I go back to my apartment for my own tea in peace and quiet. There is a French movie offered tonight but once I get in my apartment that’s it for me.

The only negative for me is the location of my apartment. It’s great for getting to the school-just two short minutes away-but getting to a grocery store, restaurant or pharmacy is an uphill aerobic workout. I think I’d rather be near the old village for the restaurants and shopping but I’m sure I would gripe about trudging uphill to class everyday. I’m so glad I don’t have to gripe about a whole lot of college students in the school. I’m not sure if they are here in great numbers in the summer, but the school I attended in Aix was just packed with them. On the whole, I really enjoy young people, Dear Diary, but there seemed to be some students who always arrived late even sometimes bearing potato chips in a noisy bag that they ate during class drowning out the teacher-some also did drugs and it was always obvious. I didn’t learn much at the school either. The teaching there just didn’t get through to me.

All photos taken in Villefranche

11 thoughts to “Dear Diary 4”

  1. Seems like very long days to me, Does your ear become more atuned through time, it must be easier staying in the country and learning the language at the same time, and of course having Maurice to practise with.

  2. I think I would really love to go to that school. It does sound like hard work, but then most things that are worthwhile are difficult aren’t they? I have school girl French from twenty years ago and would love to speak well, not that I have have much need for it in Australia.

  3. I remember language labs when I was in high school, eons ago. They were torture then and I guess they still are. I am just one of those people who could never learn a foreign language….and I tried THREE!

  4. That does seem quite intense…no wonder you want the peace and quiet of your own apartment and your own thoughts at the end of the day!

  5. I’m one of the weird ones who enjoyed language lab. The only time I didn’t like it was when it was the old-fashioned kind where the teacher had to walk around the class and physically plug into your unit so he or she could listen to you. I preferred the freedom of the teacher sitting over in a separate soundroom, eavesdropping without me knowing. And it sure it jarring the teacher corrects you. I was concentrating so hard that I was always startled when that happened!

  6. I can’t wait to hear, when it’s all over, how you feel this school has helped you really improve your French. It sounds like so far you like it a lot better than the other school.

  7. Well, I frequently come to a halt and stare into space looking for the needed word in my own language! I think that your accent will be very good, all things considered: hearing French all around you in your normal daily life, plus listening to Maurice and his family. Soon you’ll be sounding like a native speaker.

  8. That sounds like what I do in my language labs. The students listen and repeat, or listen and create a grammatically correct sentence and I spy on them and correct their mistakes. Some students like it, some hate it. In general, it’s rather boring for me!

  9. Oh my, you are a brave one! It’s wonderful that you have the freedom to move to another country to go to school. I have read in several books about France that many of the French don’t speak their own language very well because it is such a difficult language. I have always wanted to learn French but for some reason, I just can’t hear it well enough to get the pronunciation right. You’re a star!

  10. What fabulous posts – am just catching up on your blog and really enjoy reading about your experience learning French at this school.

    As the Aussies say, good on ya!

    Cheers from Paris.

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