Tuesday, November 29, 2011

FRANCE: The Language

This is a short topic post just about the French language and how I've been progressing. But first, an update! Everything has been going well for me, we are starting a new trimester at my lycée and I'm actually really excited. Now that I have a better understanding of the language I am hoping for my grades to get better. My classmates are really nice and I am enjoying school so much because of the people there. My second host family and I are doing well. I am starting to talk more at home about little things like differences between families here and the U.S., movies, pretty much anything. But it's taken a while thanks to the language and my little knowledge of it. Let me start from the beginning...
So when I started high school I began taking French class. I took that class for two years and in the few months here I forgot and relearned practically everything (plus more!). It sounds weird saying I forgot it all but when I got here nothing, and I mean nothing, sounded like the French I had heard in class. A language in a classroom is boxed in, a bubble of dated vocabulary and grammar. Sure, teachers try to update their courses but since living languages are just that, living, they change and grow every day. Example: Some time ago I used the word "barbant" to say boring and my host mom told me that only really elderly people still use that word yet that is what we were taught in school. I've started to pick up more of the slang and modern grammatical structures which involve shortening sentences. I understand the language more and more each day since I listen and read it every day. I love French as a language because of how it sounds, where even boring sentences can have the rythem of poetry. I had a discussion a little while ago with my host father about how songs in English can litterally sound and be about anything while in French you have to be very careful with the rhyming scheme which limits it. Still, I am amazed by French songs and have been introduced to more of it through out my living with this second host family because my host father plays guitar and is a real music lover.
Another thing about the language is it's formal and informal states. Formal is usually used with older people you don't know or higher persons (either in school, work, institutions like that) while informal is used among friends or people around your age. Crossing this over at times can be a huge insult so it's very important for me to keep an eye on how I'm talking depending who I am with.
Like I said, I'm speaking more and that means the more mistakes I am making (and learning to do). It's a good learning process. One thing that has really gotten to me is the French pronunciation of the letter "r" in most words. I have spent a lot of time in the past week trying to pronounce the word "arbre" (tree) and still can't do it. My classmates and I usually have a good laugh at this everyday but I continue practicing, hopefully getting closer to saying it correctly each time.
Well, as my exchange goes and my knowledge of the language grows I will update on how it's going and different interesting things about French. One lesson this exchange has taught me already is the importance of communication and how to become better at it. First you have to have a want to be understood, which is a want understood by pretty much all of humanity. The need of being understood is what drives our daily actions and our conversations every day. It's what drives me to get better at this new language.


Cayenne Buell said...

I may or may not have done a strange freak out dance when I read that you have trouble saying "arbre." That word is going to be the death of me. It's a shame, too, because I really love trees....

Post a Comment