When I was attending community college, I needed to take a foreign language. I was fortunate to be able to have options other than Spanish, especially in the budget-depleted North Carolina. (Because there’s minimal funding, most schools cut out all but Spanish because it’s the only one that’s “necessary”. Pssh.) (Dream big, people.) My only other option was French, which suited me just fine. I, like many non-Europeans, find France and the culture fantastical and a wee bit mysterious. The language can bring a girl to her knees, the aloof, free-spirited French girl can bring a man to his, and the landscapes and coast works for just about anybody.
I took to the language fairly easily for a country bumpkin, especially since I’d taken Spanish in high school and was familiar with the fundamental structure of Romance languages. I had a fantastic teacher who was young, modern, and made French relevant to our lives. She was passionate about keeping more than just Spanish in the school system, and not just for the job security; she passionately believed in culture and the understanding that while we need to embrace what made us who we are, we could be better world citizens with the knowledge of others’ cultures and what made them who they are.
It was during her class that I fell in love with France. Seeing her pictures of the country, the coast, and Paris helped me push through the difficult technical aspects of the language and want to continue learning about the Francophone world. (And people, THE FOOD. A country that embraces coffee, chocolate, butter, and simple country cookin’ is right up my alley.) While I’m not able to speak conversational French, I can get the gist of what I’m reading (or hearing, if they go really slow). I had intended to minor in French when I came to WAU, mostly because Adventist universities require that upper division language learning be done in a country with that language as its primary tongue. A year in France? Yes, please. But due to changes in my plans for college, I decided not to go. Yet.
I still want to learn the language fluently, and I will, so I think I’ll invest in Rosetta Stone. While I have the book and other materials I initially learned with, it’s very technical and doesn’t help with normal conversations (I can only how much the pain costs so many times). Unfortunately, Rosetta Stone isn’t cheap, so I’ll be saving monies for the software. Possibly forever.
I’ve also found groups that meet to hone their French skills through www.MeetUp.com. I think I’ve found a good one in Silver Spring that I can attend that doesn’t mind uber-beginners with incredibly rusty skills. (I’ll be sure to read over some of my textbook before I go…) Attending these Meet Ups will get me off of campus, allow me to meet new people, and work on speaking French with folks who can correct and guide me as I go. They usually meet in a coffee shop, so I can feel as French as DC will allow.
In the meantime, I’m watching Eddie Izzard clips of his stand-up in French. So, uh, go me.
If you find yourself with a French craving, here’s a few links to some great française-themed websites:
Au revoir, mes amis!
As usual, the photos are courtesy of the website Google Images found them on.