Embracing French

Much like the weather in Nice the past two days, I’ve been a bit depressed.  We’re not talking clinical depression or anything; I’ve just been feeling low and without energy.  It happens to even the happiest among us.  Really, all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and let the day pass.  I admit that if D were away on a business trip I most likely would have succumbed to my desire to sleep the day away.

I spent the greater part of the morning trying to work up the energy to get moving.  After all, it’s not seemly for a self-respecting woman to spend all day in her pajamas, is it?  (If you don’t leave your house and if you don’t blog about it, who would know?)  I know that once I get going I’ll keep moving and Newton and his first law of motion to thank.

The force that acted upon this body was my Meet-Up group.  We get together to speak French with our instructor/group leader who gently corrects our “u” and “ou” and ensures that our nasal vowels are nasal.

But that’s not the only good part of attending these meet-ups.  First, it gets me off the sofa and out of the apartment.  Second, I get to have conversations en français that are useful to my life in France.  And while I have several years of French study under my belt I have had one stumbling block: my shyness.

For me, integrating into my community means interacting and communicating with others.  To that end, I put myself in situations where I need to speak French such as running errands on my own.  In the beginning running errands on my own were enough to get my heart racing and my mind spinning.  I would pre-play the entire event and try to predict what would happen and therefore what I should say.  Now, going to the market and to the butcher shop have become part of my every day.  Ditto for restaurants and public transit.

At home, D and I speak a mixture of French and English.  (It does feel strange sometimes to speak French with him when we’re alone.)  And chez les parents, it’s French all the way.  It’s forced immersion and it helps.

As a supplement, I watch tv in French — we don’t have any English channels — and I’ve started reading crime novels in French.  Not only am I exposed to new vocabulary but it also helps in understanding how spoken French is constructed.  Plus, they make for good reading.

Will I be fully bilingual by the end of the year?  I don’t know but I’ll enjoy the process!

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Categories: everyday stuff, speaking French

Author:Tanya in Transition

I am a woman in transition. I left my job of 13 years to find happiness and self-fulfillment...in France!

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24 Comments on “Embracing French”

  1. March 18, 2011 at 9:05 AM #

    It’s a rough process but when you finally get to the point where you feel able to navigate all sorts of conversations with ease (and less hair-pulling), it will be a tremendous accomplishment. I’ve been thrust back into the low period as well, no real cause, but having a purpose to get out of the house makes a world of difference!

    • March 18, 2011 at 10:47 AM #

      Hi Lindsey!
      Some days I feel like a right moron and have trouble making sense. On other days, I feel like I could give a debate. I know I’ll get there; I just need to be patient. And the sun is out and it will be a beautiful weekend. That’s enough to perk me right up! ;-)

  2. March 18, 2011 at 9:20 AM #

    Sounds like fun! I’m hoping to get to that point with German, but with the move to London coming later on this year, German bilingualism wont happen for a looooong time. Off topic, but you look so joyful and fresh and pretty in your photo! I love that your sweater and scarf kind of match the table behind you. More pictures of you please!

    • March 18, 2011 at 10:46 AM #

      Thanks for the kind words!
      I usually am a happy girl but recently I’ve been feeling blah. I think it was the lack of sun. It’s out today so I’m already upbeat.

  3. March 18, 2011 at 10:47 AM #

    Is Mercury in retrograde right now? I’m feeling low, too and Lindsey just said the same. Well, you’re keeping a good attitude. We know it will pass. Good for you for all that you’re doing to improve your French. I don’t know, 4 years and I’m *still* not fluent. I mean, I understand everything and can handle just about any situation, but I still make so many mistakes. I wonder if that will just be the way. At least I don’t have to “plan” everything I am going to say anymore. I totally related when you said that. Bon courage and feel better soon. Also, what Oneika said: you look great!

    • March 20, 2011 at 6:24 PM #

      You’re so kind!
      I don’t know, I guess I’d like to get to some kind of fluency or whatever without that fear and pressure hanging over me. One day…

  4. March 18, 2011 at 1:51 PM #

    I should definitely borrow your tips on watching French tv. I’ve been trying to learn French for the longest time! Like 20 years…I just blogged about it even. Great blog and good to meet you :). K

    • March 18, 2011 at 4:57 PM #

      Hi K! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the kind words.
      I totally understand the roadblock. I read your post and I remember being at that point too. Yesterday, during our meet-up we ended up talking about different learning styles. It’s an interesting challenge and for me it’s time to just get over myself and jump in head first.

  5. Tuula
    March 18, 2011 at 2:12 PM #

    Great tips Tanya! I hadn’t thought of detective novels, that’s a good one to add to the list. I’m sure that would keep me interested as well…gotta get to the end to solve the crime… bon weekend!

    • March 18, 2011 at 4:50 PM #

      I chuckled when I saw your post as I knew mine was scheduled for Fri morning. Great minds…
      Yeah, it helps keeps me interested which is the point.
      Bon weekend à toi aussi!

  6. March 19, 2011 at 9:20 AM #

    Ditto for me like Sion, it will be 4years here for me this coming Sept and I still have loads of stumbling blocks with the language. I def agree about the pre-planning of dialogue in the head in the beginning…it just takes time! And more importantly, patience with yourself. We def speak franglais at our house, I just don’t believe in forcing it. I am a person who loves to express myself and French is not the language I use to do that….I have no romantic illusions about it. There are times I am happy to speak it and other times almost in protest, I refuse. But I also am realistic to the fact that I do live here, I do want to connect and exchange and so I do actively read in French, watch movies in French and when the occassion arises, try to crack a joke in French! But there is no magic wand, so sometimes it’s nodding and smiling and not saying rien and other times its blab blab. We all get the blues!!! I see you are dying your hair to match!!! tell me about your new henna process by the way, there are loads of natural sites…ever checked out moptopmaven?

    • March 20, 2011 at 6:27 PM #

      Yes, sometimes it’s like I’m rebelling in my mind. I just don’t want to speak French anymore. But, when in France…
      Thanks for the tip; I’ll check out the site. As for the henna, I buy it from Lush and usually wrap my hair in plastic and a towel. This time, I allowed it to dry (sans plastic) which made it black as opposed to dark brown. It looks good.

  7. March 19, 2011 at 9:47 AM #

    I used to get really flustered when we first got here- I have a good level of French but I still got anxious about going out and talking to people. I think I was worried about what they would think of me and the mistakes I’d make, happily now I don’t give a you-know-what about what they think of me and it is very liberating! Sure I don’t speak perfect French, but I always get my intent across and that is all that matters. I love that you speak French a bit at home too, that’s so romantic!

  8. March 19, 2011 at 12:52 PM #

    I can completely understand the feeling. I’m glad you had your meet up to get you going and writing for us! Whenever you feel embarrassed or self-conscious just think about how I must sound when I’m out there on the loose speaking my crazy Texas accented French! I’m sure it is just awful. But it’s the only way. Like Kirsty, I just can’t give a croissant!
    I wish I could be fluent in a year. I wonder how long it will take?
    have a happy, sunny weekend.
    a x

  9. March 19, 2011 at 1:46 PM #

    I hear you about feeling low lately – I wonder if it’s the weather? Last weekend was so gross. When the glorious sunshine came out yesterday, I honestly felt like going all Sound of Music “The Hills are Alive” and running around green pastures, it felt like forever since I’d enjoyed such beautiful sunny weather. And today: gorgeous sunshine again and I’m a happy camper.

    Your meet-up group for speaking French sounds so great. I still find expressing myself difficult, I have enough French to more-or-less get my meaning across, but I still make so many mistakes and find it hard to be myself – my sense of humour does not translate well!

    Bon weekend! x

  10. March 19, 2011 at 2:50 PM #

    you will do it. I am here cheering you on in cyber land. I am all for staying all day in pajamas. Thanks for putting a smile on my face.

    • March 20, 2011 at 6:28 PM #

      Thanks.
      You have to know that I’m here cheering you on and sending you positive energy as well.

  11. March 22, 2011 at 9:16 PM #

    Did you order from Lush online? I have only used the dry one that I order from the US (and mix with conditioner and water)…..do you like the results? product? Sucks there is no Lush in Paris but London! I am def trying to get my butt over there in the upcoming months. Speaking of which this so touches upon a post I’m working on HAIR! although now I’m at peace (for the most part) about.. Heading back to Paree before your honeymoon?

    • March 22, 2011 at 9:32 PM #

      Last thing first: I’m in Paree right now baby! As I type, I’m sitting on the bed in my hotel room.
      But what do you mean by “there is no Lush in Paris”. I think there are 4 if their website is to be believed. To answer your question, I had some henna from a visit to Toronto. I haven’t been to a Lush in France yet.
      Ah, hair. Talk to me. It’s an interesting topic, non? Can’t wait for your post.

  12. helena
    March 23, 2011 at 7:11 PM #

    hy,

    all of this is waiting me for me, from July ; ) im moving from Slovenia to Nice, cause of love ; )

    • March 24, 2011 at 9:27 AM #

      Hi Helena!
      Nice in July is hot and busy. Welcome and good luck with the move!

  13. March 24, 2011 at 11:18 AM #

    Ohhh…. immersion…integration, I’m right there with you. The life of an…immigrant!

  14. July 11, 2011 at 2:50 PM #

    It might sound like crazy, but one day you will miss not speaking French…! It happened to me when I went back for two years in Buenos Aires…
    Un beso,
    Cristina
    PS: do you speak Spanish?

    • July 14, 2011 at 10:07 AM #

      Oh, I’m sure you’re right it’s just strange sometimes. I used to speak Spanish; I studied it for two years in university. It, too, is a beautiful language.

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