Thursday, 12 March 2009

Frenching it up

I'm English, and therefore hate the garlic eating, non-shaving French just next door to us. Right? Well...not so much. I have only been to France once on a school trip and started learning French in primary school, simply because we had to take a language course and could only take German or Spanish if we had previously been tutored in them, which I had not, so I was left with learning French.

In primary school, starting in what we call Year 5 which is the penultimate year in primary schools, we had weekly French lessons with a teacher ,whom I still see occasionally these days, who would hold up picture cards and we'd learn words from them, or try to count as far as we could in French. One thing I remember about this, was knowing the French word for butterfly ("pappilon" [pap-in-yon]*) due to someone owning some dogs of the breed.

Then I moved on, with a little bit of French knowledge and took it in Year 7. Best part about this? The teacher was bat-shit insane. She was a fairly old woman, and her brains clearly started to detoriate during the years. Here's some examples/learning techniques:

- The word for for twenty in French is "vingt" [von], which we were taught to remember by twenty being the age where you get in to wine ("vin" in French) and fast cars (GT). I got in to wine recently, so I guess that's proven kind of true.
- The word for fourteen is "quatorze [caat-ohrs] and our teacher would draw a cat in a boat with some oars.
- When her brain was really going, rather than walking around the class, she would wheel about it on her swivel chair. (This was made slightly more humourous by the fact that part of her last name was "Wheel")
- Then when her eyesight started to go, we were required to leave a line in our excercise books. This made no difference for my writing, as my handwriting is atrocious. Never try and read it.

However, the fact I still remember cats in boats all these years later means her strange learning techniques worked. I improved on my fluency, got pretty good at my tenses and such during these three years. In the second year, it was the trip to France that I mentioned earlier.
I don't remember a lot of the trip to be perfectly honest. Okay it's all come flooding back to me.

So, we were there for a five days I think, three in Paris, two in Nomandy. We visited all the usual places you know, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower and The Louvre. We were served hot chocolate in a bowl along with (of course) croissants every morning in Paris. I can't recall much of the food served in Normandy, but I remember having French windows (of course, yet again). I earned the nicknamed "Breadman" over there too, which still stuck back home too.

That's another story for another day.

The visit to the Eiffel Tower was, if I'm being honest, pretty boring. As was the trip to The Louvre & Arc. However, keep in mind that I was probably 13 at the time, and given the chance now I'd go back and take in all the wonderful things in France in a different mindset.

We were made to speak French at all possible times and if I'm honest, I enjoyed it again. Even when the French people would correct me on my wording or fluency.

Certain activities were set during the day, but we had all day to do them, so were free to mull around the city as we pleased. This was pretty fun as it allowed us to interact with the French peoples and as I was 13, I think I tried some piss-poor chat up lines in French on some women waaay older than I. Some bits are still hazy actually.

That trip passed, and I went on to Year 10, starting in the "top group" and again progressing well, though I'll admit to the occasional laziness of Free Translation but when I was lazy in that way, my average grade went way down so I stopped after a while and eventually passed my GCSE with a B.

Then I went in to full-time work rather than staying on at college, so my French was all but forgotten, or at least I thought so. Recently I bought the game below.
I was interested to see if an "edutainment" game would actually work, and saw it cheap so I picked it up. Turned out that all my French had simply lain dormant and began to resurface while I chipped away at the words in this game. I'm still learning, and am enjoying it. I'm even planning to go to Paris in May, just so I can see how far I've come and take the city in again in all it's splendor now that I'm more a man, less of a boy.

So, as they say in internet speak: tl:dr - French language good. French people still suck.

*Please note: My phonetic descriptions suck ass. You're probably best ignoring these boxes all togther.

1 comment:

  1. I want a Nintendo DS!

    Anyhow, wow. France in May? thats awesome. Ive always wanted to go there...

    one day maybe


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