Dear Diary 5

Dear Diary
As we get near the end of the second week I’m getting a little worried because I don’t feel like I’ve made much progress with my French. I’m sure I have but I find myself making the same mistakes over and over again, especially with those pesky irregular verbs. Every single time I have to conjugate and use the verb venir, darn if I forget to change it to vu in the passe composse. I’m waiting for it to come out naturally.

And, Dear Diary, I’m lonely too except when Maurice visits on the weekends. I’ve purposively kept myself separate from the other students. I talk, in French, with them during class, on breaks and at lunch but I’ve been very careful not to stay after class to chat. I know too well what can happen. In my very first French class, I couldn’t wait for class to end so I could talk with the other women in the class in English. We were almost all married to French men and were starved for someone to talk to, especially someone going through the same thing we were-life in Paris in a sea of French. I did the same thing with every single course that I took and then I would go home and speak in English with Maurice. This does not make you fluent. So this time, I decided to isolate myself. Not only that, I didn’t bring any books in English with me. I’m trying to totally immerse myself in French but sometimes I want to go find one of the nice ladies in my class and gab in English.

Today we walked into the grand salon and a large table was set up with a tray of six kinds of cheese, two bottles of red wine and some wine glasses. One of the instructors, Julian, gave us a talk on cheese. Where else would you get such a lecture but in France? We were told that the “Saint Trinity” in France are wine, cheese and bread. After the talk we actually got to have some cheese along with a little wine. My, I love French cheese.

All photos taken in Villefrance

17 thoughts to “Dear Diary 5”

  1. Remember, fluent is not the same thing as perfect. Surely, being from Texas where there is such an enormous Spanish population, you must have often run into people who spoke English at all levels of fluency. So you know that there were many who were able to make themselves quite well understood even though the accent might have been heavy and some of the tenses were a little off. They were still fluent.

    I met a young woman from Costa Rica once who kept telling us about her curses, instead of courses, at school. Her accent and grammar were charming and we all were able to converse quite well, in spite of these little errors now and then.

    If you are able to leave this course and manage conversations on a daily basis, that will be a major success, I think.

    And even if your vocabulary is still lacking, make Maurice talk to you in French. You may not always have the words you want to answer him with, but just hearing it constantly from him will help you improve. Especially if you say everything in French that you can and only use English for the words you can’t remember. Let Maurice tell you those and you can continue with what you know in French.

    Of course, you may not want to do this all the time, but you should be able to manage it a lot more now. If you are really dissatisfied with where you are at the end of the course, you may want to check out I’ve been hearing raves about them and my nephew, who is just starting a language major, said even his professors praise it.

    In any case, I wish you the very best of luck!

  2. You’re not alone. We’re here…reading your words, checking up on you..and all in English, too! Can you hear me cheering you on?

  3. When I was there, some of us in different groups hung out at Chez Betty. If you do so, you might not get too lonely. We spoke English but French with Betty. Then we made plan to eat some where in Nice. You might want to hang out at tea time after class. Being in class all day and some devoirs after class, you are immersed in French already. Don’t worry too much about irregular verbs. It will come to you automatically eventually.
    BTW, don’t you love those narrow, steep steps.

  4. Just remember … you were raised speaking english…old habits are hard to break. Going between languages is difficult but you should do it…keeps that brain busy 🙂
    I have a good friend from Spain who became a US citizen and she still slips between the languages…kind of blends them together which I find so fun. Just enjoy the friendship of your classes…share the experiences.

  5. Je suis désolé que vous êtes seul. Aurez-vous de changer le nom de votre blog lorsque vous avez terminé le cours? 🙂

    And, now my brain hurts! Forgive the grammar errors. I think Rebecca is right. Perfection and fluency are different. If you can speak well enough to be understood and understand most of what’s being said, then you’re doing great. One of my neighbors is German and has been married to an American for 10 years. She was taught English in school, has lived in America and lives around Americans now. She still occasionally doesn’t know the correct word in English for some things. Her brain runs in German. Your brain runs in English and you’ll never be as good as a native speaker, but you’re making progress! Keep going and don’t be lonely. We’re all here for you. In English. And sad, sad French. 🙂

  6. French grammar is impossible. I always thought it would be easier to learn the language just by hearing and speaking it first and then get into the grammar, but that’s not the way they teach it. When you go shopping or to restaurants and stuff do you speak English or do you have enough French for every day conversation like that?

  7. Yes, mistakes are all part of speaking any language. After all, how many of us native English speakers never, ever make grammar errors?
    And XUP, that IS the way they teach it in French Immersion, and it does work. Trust me – this is my field!

  8. I hear what you’re saying about the temptation to speak English with the other students on your off-hours from class, but maybe you shouldn’t isolate yourself quite so much. I’m thinking you might get more out of the class overall if you are actually enjoying your time there, and that won’t happen if you feel lonely and isolated. Socialize a bit more, and I’ll bet you can manage to do it without resorting to English (much). You’ll still make mistakes at times once you leave the program, but I’ll bet you’ll make far fewer than you did before you came there! Look at me… I’ve been studying French since I was 13 and I’m not fluent either (and you know how frustrated I also get) and you didn’t start learning it until you met Maurice. Be patient with yourself. It’s a really tough language to learn, what with all the nuances and “rules + exceptions to rules”, and the pronunciation which is so radically different than our own.

  9. Your French sounded pretty good at the market/restaurant in Lourmarin!!
    Know what you mean though – it’s just plain hard to learn another language…….unless you’re 10 and living in the country at that age!! Great place to be for classes though Linda – enjoy everything, obviously another beautiful part of Provence and, as I have a friend making a stop there on a cruise ship this Summer, I must tell her to look at your pics.

    Give it your best shot. Luckily my trip home next Sat. will not cause a language barrier – thank goodness!!!!

  10. You write so well and I understand you’d feel lonely at times. OTOH, your strategy sounds very intelligent to me, on its own (if it’s really immersion, meeting and yakking in English doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the exercise …) but more importantly because it’s based on your own experience and knowledge gained from how things went when you took prior classes. As others have said, I’m sure speaking a little English wouldn’t wreck everything, but I also really admire you for the valiant effort you’re making on the French side.

    Bonne chance! Or should that be bon courage?

    Cheers anyway, from Paris.

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