I just had the craziest experience. Apparently I mentioned a few times that I would love to learn French and my observant husband dreamed up the perfect Christmas gift for me: French class!
There’s a place not far from here that offers highly rated French language classes. Who knew? Today was my first class in the 8 week course. The classes meet for 2 hours weekly and come with 2 books and CD’s. My class has only 4 people in it, which means plenty of opportunity for asking questions and getting help from the instructor.
I was nervous before my first class today! Nervous! I guess it was because I had no idea what to expect. I did my best to dress “French” for my class (scarf and ballet flats…a hint of lipstick.) Somehow I hoped dressing the part might actually help those French phrases to lodge in my memory. My instructor was decisively more French than I- she wasn’t even wearing a scarf yet looked effortlessly beautiful and sophisticated. I think part of that comes just by speaking French (which she obviously does quite well.)
My classmates and I (2 ladies, one man) settled into our desks wondering what to expect as my lovely teacher Isabelle launched into a few brief words in English about the course. I discovered it will take 1 year to progress through my entire beginner’s book. If I do that and pass a test I’ll get a diploma from the French government certifying my basic level of French language skill. People, I’m telling you now I’m going to get that diploma and it’s going to hang on my living room wall. Mark my words.
At this point Isabelle stated that for the remainder of class she would speak only French. I have to admit my brain freaked out a little. She assured us we could ask questions if we felt confused or lost (questions she would most likely answer with more French I later discovered…) This is when I discovered the beauty of body language and dry erase boards. She would say “Page 16″ in French, but write “16″ on the board and point to things in the book as she talked about them.
This blows my mind so I have to say it one more time. I was just spoken to in almost only French for 2 hours and managed to follow along, learn many new things, and even answer questions back to my instructor in French. I can say the entire French alphabet! And it’s way different than the English one! I can introduce myself and find page 16!
Now I need to listen to the CD to review the things we did in class, and complete a small homework assignment. She also recommended that we listen to Radio France Internationale in our free time.
When class was over, Isabelle just stopped. She stood quietly looking at us until we realized class was over. Is that a French thing? I’m not sure. I think we American’s are too “announce-y” like “Class is dismissed” and crap like that when all we really need to do is stop talking and slightly raise our eyebrows.
I had to take a couple of ibuprofen when I got home. I didn’t realize how hard I was thinking until I walked into the house and finally let my shoulders drop about 4 inches. It’s not easy listening to comprehend a foreign language for 2 hours. This is like a college class- and I am so not college age anymore. I’m already looking forward to next week though!
Here’s my textbook and pretty little note-taking journal. I love how the textbook is called “Alter Ego.” Ha! My alter ego is a wine drinking, baguette eating woman dressed all in black. Her name is Blanche. Wait, that’s not very different from my wine drinking, baguette eating real life.
I also have my new (my old, new) French/English dictionary which my sweet friend found at an antique shop in Abilene. I’m pulling this baby out in French class soon and bet my classmates will be jealous. Does your dictionary have words like “milkman” and “quinine” in it? Mine does.
Ok, really, this is the cutest little dictionary ever and I’m in love with it.
Stay tuned for more about my French adventures. And if you are interested in learning French check out Alliance Francaise de Dallas.