I'm on vacation with my family for several weeks.
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More confessions will continue next month.
|Photo: Amy Shamblem|
Au revoir et à bientôt!
After taking French classes for ten years, I'm still not fluent.
That bums me out. Why is this taking so long? I love studying French, but it's a bitch to learn.
My journey of learning French began when I was in high school. After two years, I knew the basic nouns, adjectives, and verbs and how to construct a sentence in the present and past tense. I loved it! But I had to give up French in order to fill my schedule with classes that were necessary for my career path.
I had always wanted to get back to learning French. So, some forty years later when my husband and I planned a trip to France, I realized the need and the desire to study French again. Language classes were offered at the Carnegie Literary and Learning Center, just a twenty-minute drive from my house. Before the class began, I bought the grammar book and dove into the first two chapters. But it was overwhelming. What little I had retained from high school didn't help. What had I gotten myself into? Learning French was going to impossible. However, my husband encouraged me to try the first class. And you know what? It was fun!
My teacher was born in France and she taught the language well, but at times she would put people on the spot and embarrass them. Despite these tense uncomfortable moments, I stuck with the class. Then after three years, Madame Monique moved away from Lexington and we had a new teacher, who had a completely different teaching style. Mademoiselle Erica is more informal and the class is more relaxed. In the course of seven years, we've studied more verb tenses (imperfect, conditional, and subjunctive) and we are learning much more vocabulary.
After ten years of class, I can understand spoken French pretty well, as long as it's not slang or spoken too fast. For the most part, I can read and understand the written word. But speaking the language is another story. French is hard. There are so many rules and exceptions. Sometimes you pronounce the last consonant at the end of a word and other times you don't. The nasal sounds are tricky—I'm still trying to master them. A lot of words are pronounced the same way so you have to understand the context of the sentence. For instance, worm and glass (ver and verre) are both pronounced 'vair' which rhymes with fair.
Recently, I've been listening to two online sources that are help me speak and understand French better: French Mornings with Elisa and Comme une Française Both Elisa and Geraldine present interesting topics that teach the nuances of the language and show how to speak more like a local. C'est fantastique!
It's nice to have alternative ways to learn the language. These options help me pick up French a bit faster. That said, learning the language is still going to take time. It's me who has to change my perspective and not freak out about learning it rapidement and tout de suite. For me, it's natural to rush things and to feel accomplished. Bien sûr, I need to chill and have fun. I need to study a little French each day and embrace the joy that comes with learning the language I love.
À la prochaine!