Thursday, May 16, 2013

Teacher becomes student...let's speak about it

Its a common question amongst UK property owners in France, to ask, " So how long have you been in France?",  rapidly followed by,"can you speak French?" This is the  measure of your staying power, literally. So this made me think about our love affair with La belle France, a relationship that spans over thirty years.

Funny to look back and remember the naivety and lack of knowledge, both linguistically & culturally and the distance travelled over the years. Timeline reads\;
  • 1980 Honeymoon on BMW motorbike touring Brittany & camping. Tourist phrase book, no school French we read ICI as a company name, tracked down an old military 'Camping' and couldn't understand why all the farm sites were 'a la ferme'...closed!
  • 1987 Train trip to the south of France euphemistically named 'Mediterranean Express' stopped at every siding
  • Ongoing car and camping trips down, across, via most regions. Linguistically faltering our way through, 'boisson v poisson' and 'demain v deux main' and so many other confusions.
  • 1993 Basic French course & feeling very confident. Finding out why we were so oftern laughed at when booking; 'machin means whatsit/ thingamy' and 'Ron sounds like rond'...hence, "one room for Mr Round Thing" 
  • 1995 decided in to buy a place, took to 2006 to find the funds & decide where.10-6-06 purchase and  a meaningful date. As Ron pointed out to the notaire, "this time we won"!He was not amused.
  • 2007/8/9 Cauldon College French courses &  finally GCSE 2010 at the same time as I passed my Headteachers qualification, NPQH and equally proud of both.
  • 2010 Stayed for five months & discovered the strength of pictures & humour in improving communication."Vous voulez la chienne Ron?", "Non merci je suis complete, non beaucoup le mange"......Franglaise!
  • 2010 a hospital stay which improved my confidence whilst treating my sunstroke, after that nothing could be linguistically that scarey, "Je suis mieux..."
  • French friends ever helpful, always supportive and thanks to Nicole, Evlyn, Valerie, Jean Claude, Patricia and all the others, I could not have do it without you!
So it is that today, 16 May, a very special day, my step daughters 40th  birthday, I take my courage in both hands and 'Immerse' myself in French. I have booked via a company called 'Let's Speak', to stay, for f ive days with a French family and speak,think, eat and breathe only in French.

 So how long have I been in France? 30+ years and can I speak the language, well let's see how I measure up!
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Bon courage Pauline!