I returned to classes at Alliance today after our 3 week break which has resulted in me asking why can I not learn this french language? I am in the perfect situation to learn the language: full time language classes and living in the country, I have also taken the initiative of making my own flash cards, loading french language Cd’s onto my ipod and listening to it constantly. I even play a french radio in my room and have every single extra book “learn french in 15 minutes a day” and “how to pronounce french” “your french guide” “beginners guide to french” and yet i still feel hopeless. Perhaps I am not one for languages… I have been speaking (pretty much not stop) English for 21 and a half years and yet I still make the most basic English spelling mistakes, I did Zulu for the whole of primary school and I can not claim any proficiency in that language whatsoever… and considering I did 12 years of Afrikaans at school and went to extra lessons for probably 11 of them, plus I went to an Afrikaans university and dated 3 Afrikaans boys (not at the same time) my Afrikaans is an embarrassment. What made me think that 6 months in Paris would make me speak French?
This whole weekend my human tried to encourage me to order for us in french or buy metro tickets in the language, the person serving us still looks at me blankly and then says “I speak the English” or when they don’t “speak the English” the human seems better at ordering or getting what we need than I am- he has been here 2 nights, I have been here 2 months!
When i returned to Alliance I knew I would be in level 3 and yet still not be able to ask for the menu, so, because of this, I decided I would demote myself to a lower level class. Well, thank heavens I did as I am still clueless, vocabless and tenseless! My new class is as interesting as the old ones- there are only 8 of us and as I am the “nouvelle fille” i know nobody’s names and they don’t know mine. And in case you were wondering, yes, the humiliation does continue. An Indian boy sat next to me, we had a interesting conversation about our likes and dislikes of food: he is vegetarian and I am a good old South African girl who can think of nothing better than a “bleu fillet” (the one thing I am able to order)! The teacher is entertaining if you find someone who answers your questions of “why?” with “because” entertaining. I say “pourquoi” and she replies “parce que”.
So why can I no speak French? My answer is “Parce que” (because). Will I ever be able to speak french? If it wasn’t for my handy dictionary my answer would probably still be “parce que” but rather it is “avec un peu de chance”!