Monday, 8 August 2011

French and moi

Home again, home again. Jiggety jig.
I don't actually know the rest of the nursery rhyme but that one line is all that matters, right?
We came back to rainy Lille after a week in rainy Tarn et Garonne and a week in rainy Auvergne. I will write seperate enteries on some of the things we visited because I think it's important to get the word out on the blogosphere when you see something completely awesome and cool. So there are a couple places we visited that definitely deserve their own post.
During our almost 3 weeks away, I spoke more French than I have in months. A few months ago, when I had to give a presentation in French, I noticed that my French was slipping. Although I'm still very much fluent (I don't call myself bilingual but I guess I am), it's not as smooth as it once was. While away, we spent a week with my in-laws, a week by ourselves but chatting to the neighbors, etc and then 3 days with French friends in Paris. And although I always speak English to my family, I had to speak more French than I usually do. During our last dinner in Paris, I was completely out of it, unable to follow the conversation and detached. J kept bringing me back into the conversation, but it was hard. I found it nearly impossible to follow the conversation and even hard to hear the actual words!
I never imagined that I'd live in a foreign country and not speak the language, but that's just what's happening. I could very easily go through an entire day without speaking French (with the exception of a couple senteces here and there). It's a fact that makes me a bit sad because I worked so hard to reach a high level of French (I started French when I was 5 years old). But in the same way that I no longer understand my senior thesis from college on whether a woman can become a Buddha*, today I would also be incapable of writing a thesis in French (which I once did). Language is like any other skill - if you don't use it, you lose it. So, my post vacation resolution is to read more in French. I haven't read a book in French in years, no really it's been a number of years!
With my family visiting for the next couple weeks, there will be an increase of English in the house which is great! But being with my family makes me realize how many Frenchisms I've adopted into my every day language, which is normal since I live in France. But, I trust my mother will be able to work out my English as well as the kids'.
The American in me is so strong these days, that I was picked up by M6 for a report on PAris Plage. Actually, the reporter asked me to speak in English so she could have her report on foreigners at Paris Plage. I just thought it would be cool to get my kids on TV (aka Max tv if you are a self-obsessed almost two year old).
* for the curious, a woman can become a Buddha but first she needs to transform into a man.


Jan Exner said...

When I first moved to France, I struggled at every dinner we had. I remember falling asleep at the table because it was so hard to listen, concentrate and decode, I was tired after an hour of it!

Reb said...

me too, but now that I've been here for 15 years, I thought I'd be past that...oh well :)

cmoi said...

Could you fill me in on any cool places in Auvergne? We are leaving next Wed (Aug 17) for that region, and we want to hit the highlights. The only reservation we have so far is two nights at a hotel in Clermont-Ferrand to get started.... Thanks! Allison
And p.s. happy birthday to Max!

Anonymous said...

I completely understand. I had two lots of visitors from America in late June/early July and after that French people couldn't understand my French! I speak French with the kids and husband, our telly was English (we're watching French TV now and I can't wait to get back to some good programming -- the kids' stuff is appalling) and I read mostly in English. Since we've been wandering around France after leaving Lille, we've spoken lots more French and I really like it. I had part of a job interview in French and wasn't completely lost.
I know your level of French is much, much better than mine (I started learning French at 32) but I find reading children's fiction in French is a good thing. I read the 'Arry Potters in French and I've moved onto the Percy Jackson series. The Percy Jackson is either terribly written or terribly translated -- I'll go with the first one. Too much argot. Anyway, bonne chance et bon lecture !
Take care and happy birthday to Mr Max,

Reb said...

Alison, here are some good places :
awesome awesome awesome visit with the kids to a goat farm where the kids fed the baby goats. People are really nice and the farm is a wonderful experience for kids and adults

The chateau de Val near Bort les Orgues is nice. you can visit the chateau and spend a day at the lake - there's a ropes course and playground.

Kangaroo farm - we didn't go but I really wanted to

Lac Pavin is a nice little walk aorund the crater lake.

Besse (and super Besse) - really pretty town.

Le Mont Dore - there's a funiculaire (a train that goes part way up the mountain) or a cable car to go to the top of the Puy de Sancy.

Beware of car sick kids!

Have a nice trip!

Reb said...

Rachael, glad to hear from you and know that you're doing well!

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