Monday, June 1, 2015

State of the French Learner Address: May 25-31

lundi, 25 mai
Today was another holiday (May has lots of holidays here in France!), so no class. I worked for a bit, studied for a bit, and in the evening made the trek to the beach to play some frisbee. I found out about the event via Couchsurfing. For those who have heard of the site, Couchsurfing isn't just for hosting or sleeping for free at people's houses. There are also events hosted by couchsurfers, and you can use the site to meet people when you're traveling (or to meet travelers while you're at home).

So there was the guy from Quebec who made the event, his girlfriend, a French guy, an Italian guy, and myself. After throwing for a while, Sophie went and read while we played two on two—"square" frisbee (with a small square in the middle for scoring, and a bigger square on the outside). I forgot how tiring it is to run on sand! Oh man. I slept well that night!

mardi, 26 mai
Today a whole bunch of new students started at the ILP, which meant class started at 10 instead of 9 because the new students took a placement test at 9. Turns out they're all Americans from Loyola University in Baltimore. They're young (most are 19), and since this is a group "study abroad" sort of thing for them, they all speak in English with each other. I'm trying to be patient, but to be honest, it's pretty obnoxious to listen to English at school (and also to know that they'll hardly learn what they could during their time here). But alas, I'm trying to remind myself that we're at different times in our lives with different priorities.

Since there are so many more people now, we're finally in two different classes. With our "new" upper class of seven, I'd say I fall in the middle in terms of level. Frank is our teacher this week—the same teacher I had my first week, so I'm happy with that. We watched a video clip about technology today, and I could tell that my comprehension has improved since the cous-cous video we watched with Frank my first week. Yay!

We had extra class in the afternoon to make up for yesterday's holiday. I did my homework, cooked, and then went to the GoLingo exchange from 7-9 that night, and then met up with my "new" class for a drink afterwards. (Since Agnese had invited Pia and I out on our first day of class, I thought it would be nice to return the favor).

mercredi, 27 mai
Today we worked on a little bit of pronunciation stuff during class, which was great because I'd asked Frank about it after class on Tuesday. To generalize, I don't have as much of an American accent as most Americans do who learn French. But I know there's a ton I can work on to make my pronunciation more French-like, so I asked Frank for some specifics. The vowels are hard because there are 14 different vowel sounds, and many we don't distinguish in English.

After class I worked for several hours (I'm a bit anxious to get back to my regular hours mid-June because we have so much going on at work!), studied a bit, and then headed out the door for GoLingo's French/Spanish exchange. I got there and GoLingo wasn't there—I'm assuming not enough people signed up and they forgot to send us an email. Came home and worked on more French study instead, complete with an Un village français episode, of course (I started Season 4 today!).

jeudi, 28 mai
Thursday is when the weekly Montpellier Gazette comes out, so I went to school a half hour early to read it, after first stopping to buy a croissant from my boulangerie and the paper from the paper/magazine shop.

Asami came over after class, and my roommate left for the weekend. Her group is playing at a music festival a bit outside of Montpellier, and she'll pick up her dog on the way back on Monday. (The dog's been staying with her friend out in the country this month, since she was gone so often).

I had my Thursday Go Lingo exchange, and ended up staying afterwards until 23:00 talking with some French people who had gone to the exchange.

vendredi, 29 mai
I happened to check my email before school, and saw that my credit card had emailed about some suspicious charges. Wasn't me who made them, so they cancelled my card. Long story short, they're going to send a temporary replacement to my school on Monday. A real card should be coming in 2 weeks I think...

Asami and I keep being the last two to leave school, so she ended up coming over for lunch again today. I love our lunches on the patio!

Then it was back to school for a double-session of conversation in the afternoon, and a calm Friday night at home for me.

samedi, 30 mai
On Saturday I did some work during the day, called mother to wish her a happy birthday, then around 17:00 I packed up some French study materials and headed to a park a few minutes from here. Not long after I sat down, some strangers approached me and they ended up sitting down on the grass and we talked for over two hours. They were all French, but had origins from Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and South Africa. It was awesome luck that I got all of that authentic French speaking practice—sans English!

Then, not five minute after they'd left, two others approached me—one with a small case of beer—and asked (in French): "Do you accept strangers?" I said of course, and they sat down, and so began another long conversation practice (for me). They're both students here at the university, and later two more of their friends joined. We just sat in the grass talking until around 11pm.

So I didn't get any of my book-study done that I'd planned on doing, but talking with natives (who don't expect an English exchange in return, and who aren't used to speaking slowly for foreigners) was a welcome surprise! I've actually heard that this is pretty uncommon for French, to be so open like that, so I had good luck today.

dimanche, 31 mai
I took it easy today, did a bit of work, studied grammar, other French study, and cooked. Uh, and you can bet I watched some Un village français.

It's now been a full month in Montpellier, and I can definitely tell that my French is loads better than when I arrived. It's hard to tell a difference from day to day, but looking back to week one I can see a huge difference. Hope I learn just as much in month #2!

The state of the French learner is strong!

State of the French Learner: May 1-9
State of the French Learner: May 10-17
State of the French Learner: May 18-24
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