adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

The Language Barrier

Here's something I have to constantly remind myself of here in France:  I am a smart person. Really!  I swear.  I used to get As and stuff.  It's pretty incredible how quickly your confidence can deteriorate when you're living in a place where you can barely communicate.  I feel like an idiot at least 5 times a day.  Like yesterday, it was insanely hot and all I wanted was a nice glass of lemonade.  So while at the store, I bought some lemonade, went home, put it in a glass with ice and took a big sip only to discover - I had bought lemon juice.  Big difference, people. A difference that was not obvious to me on the packaging.   Or there was the time that I wanted to tell a dog that he was a good boy - very well behaved.  It was only after I told the owner that her dog was "se bon" that I learned, in that context, I had basically told her that her dog was tasty and I wanted to eat it.  No wonder she ran away from me.  At least I didn't say that to a child.

class is in session!

Last week we had our third language class.  Just in time for my jet-lagged brain to have forgotten everything I'd learned in the last two classes.  Our teacher decided to spend the majority of the hour and a half just speaking to us in French and asking us questions - very slowly - about our vacation and having us respond as best we could.  It was really helpful, but incredibly frustrating.  I am a smart person. Learning French has not been so easy for me.  I guess I thought that since I can already speak another language, French might come a little more naturally.  "Oh!  You can speak Spanish?  Then you'll have no problem learning French!"  I can't tell you how many times I heard that before we moved and I am here to tell you that it is not true, people.  French is really different.  At least with Spanish (for the most part) the way a word looks is the way your pronounce it.  You can't do that with French.  Usually I just guess and I normally guess wrong. But over the weekend, the most exciting thing happened.  The Hub and I went wine tasting with our Canadian friends in Pic Saint Loup (more on that tomorrow!).  A nice perk to being friends with this couple is that they are from Québec and French is their first language - instant translators!  A good thing too, because no one spoke English at any of the vineyards we visited.  Sometimes we'd have our friends translate, but mostly we just tried to listen to the conversation and see what we could pick up.  And you know what?  We actually understood some of it.  By no means were we participating in the dialogue - or even following along for that matter - but we were picking up words!  Real words spoken by real native speakers!  Even if it's a small step, it's a step that made me really excited to keep studying and practicing so that maybe sometime soon, I'll feel like an idiot only 4 times a day instead of 5. Je suis une personne intelligente.

2 Responses to “The Language Barrier”

  1. Kathleen says:

    Bon courage!

Leave a Reply

Design by RoyCreative