Sunday, January 22, 2012

French - I have to brag a bit

Since arriving here in Belgium, I have been taking French lessons twice a week in classes that last 90 minutes each.  When I arrived I took an assessment that placed me at an intermediate plus level.  I had retained some of my high school and college French.
As I moved through the first semester of classes gradually what I had learned year ago started to return.  When the new semester came and there weren't enough students at the intermediate plus level to offer that class so I was bumped up to the advanced class.  This was more challenging but even still I was able to keep up with the grammar and just needed to work on expanding my vocabulary.
This year there weren't enough students for the advanced class which means that I was placed into the highest class the center is offering which I would call intermediate plus plus or low advanced.  I've come to the conclusion that it matters little what level of grammar instruction I am receiving, what matters is that on a weekly basis I am speaking and practicing my French.
Most of the time when I am speaking French, I do so with ease.  I can carry on basic conversations and even specialized ones (like about Allen's medical care).  I don't translate my thoughts from English to French.  If I am speaking French, my thoughts are in French (until I hit a word I don't know).
One of the things I am enjoying about learning French at this level is that I have begun to learn expressions and idioms.  It is fun to throw them into a conversation and watch the reaction I get.
My two favorite expressions - fall in (amongst) the apples is a way of saying to faint.  And if you have other things you need or want to do - you would say I have other cats to whip.
The biggest compliment I get when I am speaking French is when I am asked where I am from.  Of course, I do not speak French like a native speaker, but my accent and ability to speak doesn't immediately identify me as American.  So I am not overly butchering a language I have come to love speaking and will miss speaking when we return to the US.


  1. That is something to be proud of! I regret that I have lost almost all my French and German verbal skills. I can more or less read simple documents, and phrase a simple question, but I cannot understand the response! On the flip side, after being married to a Colombian for over 17 years, I can understand a lot of Spanish, but only can speak about 200 words and am effectively illiterate.

  2. You could continue speaking French at home after returning to the USA. Teenagers only pay attention to their parents verbal instructions about 25% of the time anyway. The major downside is that you would KNOW that none of your family is really paying attention.