Sunday, September 12, 2004

Speaking in Tongues

I have often wished I could "jack in" to a computer, à la The Matrix, to download french straight into my head. As this isn't possible, I'm left floundering when we visit family or go out with friends. I don't think it matters how many lessons you have; you don't know a new language until you live where that language is spoken all the time. I've been told that one can't take the time to translate mid-conversation, as by the time you get one sentence done they're on the third or fourth, or while you're staring blankly at your conversation partner while you translate into english, think of a response and then translate it back into french, they've given up on you and moved on. The only thing left to do is think in french, which still sounds like beautiful nonsense. It's incredibly frustrating and exhausting. On more than one occassion I've wanted to yell out "I'm an intelligent person! I even have a college degree! I have so many things I want to tell you but I sound like a three year old and it's driving me crazy!"

But I can't, so boo hoo me, right?

We went to dinner with Stéph's colleages friday night, and we sat on one end of the table facing a colleage and his girlfriend. The gf and I were able to eek out a small conversation (what do you do, how was your vacation, oh you sing how interesting, etc.) but the majority of the time was spent smiling and gesturing. It was a relief later to speak a little english with the two english teachers when we had drinks at the bar, but even then there's a lot of smiling and gesturing.

I know I'm putting possibly more pressure on myself than I need to, but I just know that life will be so much better when I can understand what the hell is going on, nevermind talk like a sensible adult.

So, we started my french lessons this morning. Mostly just talking french from the book, and I've got homework that's due on Wednesday. It's insanely simple now, all things I know, and hopefully we can move ahead to the harder stuff soon. Even now my husband is on the phone in the other room and I have no freakin' idea what he's saying.

If anyone finds a way to insert a french chip into my head, please let me know, poste haste.


Anonymous said...

Oh, do I know how you feel!! Alls I can say is it DOES get better. You'll notice little leaps in your comprehension. After six months you'll realize you understand a LOT more and after a year you'll realize you really didn't understand much after six months.

After three years in Germany, I'm a lot better, but my grammer SUCKS. One thing that does help is working in a German office where I speak German mostly and another thing that helps TONS is reading a German novel. Or the paper. My comprehension and speaking levels increase greatly when I do that.

Jingle_Lady said...

Oh, btw, that last comment was me. :)