Monday, February 13, 2012


I thought that it was time I give people a little look into the main reason why I am here this year: learning French!
Since all my posts are in English, I haven't been able to express how I am doing with my second language. So here we go: I can definitely say that my French has improved considerably this year (this is not meant to "toot my own horn", but rather to share progress and assure my parents that I'm getting better!). I mean, obviously it has to, since I am in France and all. But it is very difficult to notice a change within yourself, because change happens slowly and you aren't always able to pick up on it. I have noticed in the past few months that I understand almost everything I hear in French and that I am able to communicate quicker and easier then before. But the moment that I realized just how much I have progressed was when I was sitting on the tram this past week. 
Now, a little background. 
In Canada, when I am taking the bus to school without friends, I keep myself amused by eavesdropping (look out!). I don't do this intentionally; rather, when you're all alone on a bus with no music and no book to read, it is only natural to accidentally hear other people's conversations. Anyways, it is something I often have done without meaning to while riding public transport, but it was something that just wasn't happening over here. It is very difficult to jump into the middle of someone's conversation when you don't know the context, and it is difficult to know the context when you haven't mastered the language.
Well, surprise surprise, last week on the tram, I was standing around minding my own business when my brain decided to listen in on a conversation. In French. I was happily eavesdropping, and then I realized what was happening and completely lost my train of thought, since I was so happy that I was able to jump in at a random part of someone's conversation and understand them. Over the past week I have been able to do that too; hear a conversation and be able to understand exactly what is being said. No translation required!
For those of you who have learned a new language, I'm sure you can agree that one of the most difficult things in language learning is learning how to not translate directly from your language, because often the sense of words of phrases is different. When you arrive at a point where you don't have to directly translate, and you begin to be capable of understanding that some things have a certain sense, you know that you are on the way to learning the language.
Another thing that this experience has taught me is that unless I continue to immerse myself in French, I will not master the language. That is why this year has been so good... I am one step closer. I don't just want to be a teacher who skims by and doesn't really have a grasp on the language... if I want students to be interested in French, then I better be interested and immersed in it myself! It is such a beautiful language, and I have truly learned to love it (though I would take conversation over grammar class any day... haha). When you learn a new language, a lot of new doors get opened for you. You just have to choose which ones you want to take, and which you want to leave. Being here, I have realized the importance of doing little things, like watching the news in French or reading French books, to improve your language skills. Even if you don't always speak French, by listening and reading your oral skills will improve. 
Lastly, if I have one regret it is not giving 100% in my high school and university French courses. Yes, I did my best and always did my homework, but to give 100% it is necessary that you go above and beyond... like reading French books, watching French movies, making sure you understand your homework corrections, ensuring that you don't forget grammar over the summer... things like that! So if you are reading this and are taking French... if you want to stick with it, learn to love it and use it as often as you can!! If you don't use it, you'll lose it!!
Anyways. That's my progress story thus far. 
This week is pretty busy school wise: we have a test and two assignments due tomorrow and exercises and a test on Thursday. "Busy." Just not compared to Canada!

sub-note: I apologize for any grammar/spelling mistakes. The better I get at French, the more awkward my English becomes...

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