LIZ HARROD

Fun with French

In France, Travel 2011 on May 28, 2011 at 12:15 am

So, as I sort of half mentioned in my previous post, in an effort to see what life might be like living here, and working as an au pair, I enrolled in a oral French workshop this week: two classes with about 12 other people for three hours each. Part of the au pair visa requirement is to participate in ten hours of French language study each week. So I thought this would be a nice start to refreshing what I already know while also letting me see what it’s like to be formally studying a language once again.

First, I will admit that Alliance Française is absolutely not the cheapest option. However, it is probably the best, and they do have educational centers all over the world. So if you can afford them, which as an au pair I know I won’t be able to, they’re most certainly worth a shot.

For just the week, I decided to fork out the registration and class fees and take an placement exam. I ended up sort of splitting the difference between beginner and intermediate beginner (A1 and A2) on account of the fact that my written French is much better than my verbal and listening. So the oral workshop was a perfect fit.

One of the first things I noticed, which certainly seems so obvious now but completely escaped me until the first class, is that when studying a language in the country where it is spoken, that language becomes the common language. Instead of being a classroom at an American university where we could all fall back on English to ask each other names, hometowns, or to borrow a piece a paper, my class was from all over the world, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not really sure what most of their native languages are. The only thing we could be really sure of is that we all could speak a bit of French. So we did.

And it was fun!

We role played and mispronounced and laughed at the pronunciation. We made funny faces in order to get just the right amount of nasal into our words. We repeated and repeated, mimicking the intonation of our teacher and of the recordings.

We wanted to be there. Rather than being forced to sit in the class and complete a graduation requirement, we had all enrolled for various reasons of our own.

So, sitting in a classroom, looking at the people next to me, all enjoying their various lives in Paris, and taking a conscientious step to make them even better, it all started to click.

With the answers to a few final questions, mostly involving money and timing, I’m pretty sure this will be what’s next for me.

BTW – Happy birthday mom!

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