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Chronicles of msadele

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French lessons

So Close Yet So Far

real life struggles when learning French
Image courtesy of Expatriates Paris – Thank you for summarising my current language skills perfectly!

A fair example of where I’m at thus far with my French but hey, I’m ecstatic to even be able to form a few words. 

Adult learning difficulties are R E A L !

My toddler is more advanced in French than I am and he’s 2. Yes, 2. 

No doubt he’ll be teaching me soon. Who am I kidding, he teaches me already with all the French books I’m forced to read at bedtime (courtesy of toddlers father who says I need to read in French for practice). Toddler has laughed at me whilst reading T’Choupi. Apparently it’s jaw breakingly funny when mummy reads in “Le Français” 😳. Truth be told I’m learning a bucketload of Frenchy stuff via toddler. It’s awesome. 

As I watch our toddler venture into the world of talking, rather than nodding, grunting and pointing, I’m simply astonished at how quickly he’s picking up both languages. According to science, and who argues with science, 2 year olds can learn between 5-10 new words a day ! 

Now apply that to a bilingual child and you’ve got a walking word machine. A spelling bee champion in the making. However, these little sponges need a little help from the parentals in this department. It’s the parents/carers responsibility to expose toddler to new words. So parentals must have new words ready to go everyday. Today mine were:

  • “Please don’t put your food in your water”
  • “Get the straw out of your nose”
  • “Put your jocks back on”
  • “Let’s go do pipi in the potty before your bath”
  • “Oh no, mummy said no pipi’s in the bath !”

All jokes aside, the kid is killing it in the language department and I’m hiding behind him picking up his vocabulary and asking husband “what did you say to him?” Hey, I’ll take a language lesson anywhere I can !

If you’ve got a bilingual babe or are just interested in how they develop, here’s a few tips on what to expect for your bilingual child’s language development.

I just hope our little man doesn’t back out a “putain!” any time soon. 

Oh the S H A M E.

Je m’appelle Adele 

So today I had my first real French lesson.

The ‘not from a lonely planet phrasebook’ kind. Those are incredibly useful but if I want to have real life discussions, I need to extend my vocabulary past “une baguette s’il vous plait”. 

French lesson
“Terre des mots” is a text designed for primary school children. My tutor has high hopes for me.

I’ve only been with my French (now) husband for 7 years. Call me an avoider. It’s a difficult language and I’m a big chicken. There, I said it. Just too scared to fail because I suck at languages. My other half is the polar opposite, he’s a language sponge.He speaks a few of them. Sometimes I switch off when he talks about the “langue”. He doesn’t know this because I never let my eyes glaze over. Clearly I’m joking, sort of.

All jokes aside, there are very good reasons for me to learn.

Here’s my motivation list ….

  1. So I understand when my husband is talking bad things about me to my son, like “mummy won’t let you eat that chocolate, she said no”. That’s a diplomatic example.
  2. As above except applied to the in-laws. You feeling me?!
  3. Employment. Even though there’s a buhzillion foreigners in Paris who everyone tells me “seem to have easily landed English speaking jobs not speaking a word of the language”  – well, I am not one of those “lucky” ones.
  4. So I can say more than “putain” or “conard” when some ar*ewipe fails to adhere to basic road rules, like stopping at a pedestrian crossing while my son is on it! (that really gets up my goat). Insulting people politely and with a larger vocabulary seems important here. I need to get on that train.
  5. For myself. It’s a slow and painful death living in a foreign country with a language barrier. I need to expand my circle. My daily conversation revolves around “get your finger out your nose” and “no, you can’t have any chocolate” and my  personal favourite, “how many times have I asked you not to do that?!” Nooooooooo.

Back to my lesson …

One tram and four metro station changes later I make it to my teachers hood. Remember I live just outside of the peripherique, so going to the westside of Paris is like a day trip for me. I’m doing one-on-one lessons. We go to a local bar. I’m ensured it’s quiet. This is important as I sure as hell don’t want people listening to me.

I’ve learned a quiet bar in Paris is like a Friday afternoon knock-off drinks. Quiet, not quiet. Apparently it’s the a new cool thing to have your lessons out and about, submerged in the Parisian way. The only thing I was submerged in was phonetics, grammar and conjugation. Up to my eyeballs.

Kudos to my lovely tutor though (I’ll call her M), she kept her voice on the low down and leaned into me so I didn’t have to speak very loud. Bless her. M is ace and her French (for a native Italian) is excellent. M speaks four languages fluently. Puts me to shame. So much shame. M was very patient with me and made me feel really comfortable so after a while I didn’t give a rats bottom who heard me. M was very encouraging of my pronunciation, overall status and ability to progress. Felt pretty chuffed after my 2 hours came to an end.

Feeling pretty confident I can nail this. I’ll keep you posted!

à bientôt

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