So! French class! Oui! I promised to give you a full run-down of how the day went, but here’s the condensed version: I love French. I love the language. I wish I’d given it all my attention in high school when it was free and daily (comment dit-on: “hindsight is 20/20?”) or majored in it in college. I think I would have gotten the same amount of use out of a French degree as I have my Photojournalism degree, but at least I would have been fluent and maybe gotten to study abroad. IN PARIS.
Anyway, le classe. The Basic class was a group of 7, all adults in their 50s-60s and one smoking-hot Canadian girl whose last name was actually “French” COME ON. There were 8 at first but one lady got too overwhelmed and moved next door to the Beginner class. Honestly, I thought that was going to be me, but just like when we were in France and Belgium in May, I was surprised by how much of the language I actually retained. The entire 6 hours was en Français, and I could understand 95% of what was happening. Now, this was probably because the teachers (native French women, who took 3 hour shifts) were speaking slower and less colloquially and using lots and lots of hand gestures, but still. Rachel, the second teacher, made a joke en Français and I got it. Guys, I don’t even understand jokes in English sometimes (my mom can back me up on this). The problem I have isn’t comprehension, it’s the lack of confidence in formulating responses and sounding like I know what I’m saying. As much as I need to work on my participe-passes (past participles!) I need to work on not worrying I sound comme un gauche Américaine.
We worked on the comparatif: plus de/que (more than), moins de/que (less than), autant de/que (the same as); we studied French advertisements and explained what was going on (jeu de mot: word-play!); described ourselves, asked questions about other people in the class; read an essay on the differences between child-rearing in America and France (newsflash: the French think we are too lenient with our kids). Whenever we tried to slip into English (even to say, “Oh god, what’s the word for…?”) Rachel or Julie would promptly repeat, “En Francais, s’il vous plait!” It was just like being back in 10th grade French class, only I couldn’t bribe the teacher with ice cream from the vending machine in the cafeteria to skip class and hang out with my best friend (that happened. On more than one occasion). I came home with lots of hand-outs and useful notes, and was told I have nice skin and a good French accent. And I am so, so glad I did went. It was totally worth it. I’m so excited for the 10 week course that starts in December.
Semi-related: do you know how much it takes out of you just to sit in a metal folding chair all day? My body was literally not conditioned for it, I don’t know how I sat through school all day everyday for so long. Mon derrière etait fatigue apres six heures (“My ass was tired after 6 hours.”)
Semi-related part 2: I still remember a song we learned in 11th grade French about making participles agree with the subject in the past-imperfect tense. It was a list of verbs, and if you asked any Masterman alum to sing it right now, they could. And now that I’ve mentioned it I have to sing it, but you won’t get the full effect of the melody. “Aller, venir, entrer, sortir, monter, desecendre, arriver, partir, rester, retourner, tomber, mourir, et nâitre avec être: le participe-passe s’accord avec le sujet (revenir, devinir, rentrer).”