Fri 10 Apr 2009
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