Our Family’s (2nd) Year in the South of France
Kids and Castles - Our year with kids in the South of France

I Must be Trying Hard Because I’m Failing Constantly

I think everyone who works in Silicon Valley eventually hears this:  If you’re not failing sometimes, you’re not trying hard enough.

By that measure, I’m sure trying hard to learn French because I’m failing a LOT:

  • I met a woman I thought was my age until she mentioned she had a son attending college in Lyon. I wanted to compliment her and say that she looked very jeune (young), but I mistakenly told her she was jaune (yellow).
  • I was talking to a waiter about his shirt and was amused by the story he told us about buying it at a football game in Miami. Afterward I found out he was actually talking about a Madonna concert.
  • I spent the day of my birthday telling everyone “Aujourd’hui, j’ai quatorze ans” (Today I am fourteen years old).

I was asked last week what method I’m using to learn French. I do have Rosetta Stone which I use, although not as often as I should. I did look into classes but the ones I found were pretty basic covering the stuff I already know –  alphabet, numbers, and asking for the restroom. I looked for a local tutor when we first got here, but didn’t have any luck.

(Side comment:  L’s Grade 1 class is starting English this year and the first thing they learned was “eyes”, “chin”, “nose” and “I don’t understand.”)

So my method is “Leave the house and talk to whoever doesn’t run away“. It’s actually a pretty good approach as long as JM doesn’t come with me. Don’t get me wrong, the whole bilingual husband thing is incredibly useful and I only love him more every time he answers the phone or figures out the crazy train schedules. But whenever he is there people talk to him instead of me, so I leave him at home when I go to pick up the bread or get the kids from the bus or buy the chocolate, and each time it’s a French lesson.

Next week JM is going to California and I’ll be here with the girls by myself. I’m nervous, but I’ll survive and probably learn more French that week than the rest of the trip so far.

5 Responses to “I Must be Trying Hard Because I’m Failing Constantly”

  1. patti says:

    Have I mentioned that I think you are one impressive woman? Because I do. And you are.

  2. Louis Morrissette says:

    You will learn way more by being alone. “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

  3. Denis Morrissette says:

    Louis did learn English in about 6 months but then he was 8 years old. He was enrolled in an english speaking school in India and had no choice but use english. Yep, having to use the language is the best way to learn.

  4. Joe says:

    Ma femme, Debbie, m’a montré ce blogposte(?) — quand nous avons besoin de parler de notre fille, Claire, et c’est importante qu’elle ne nous comprend pas, nous parlons (trés, trés mal) français (parce qu’elle est capable d’épeler, maintenant. Zût).

    Of course, just communicating something like the above takes us a good five minutes as we struggle with common vocab that we both remember from high school; and I’m pretty sure the grammar is completely borked in a number of places.

    Good luck! I’m extremely impressed with your resolve — having been in a similar-but-much-lesser situation on a number of occasions (weeks in Japan, with a couple years of recent Japanese study), I find myself punting almost every time and rarely bringing out my pidgin Japanese; afraid that I’ll offend or misspeak, I stick to English and miss a prime opportunity for learning and growth (among people who would forgive my mistakes, even!). Perhaps next time I’ll try a bit harder, thanks to this post. Thanks!

  5. Maha says:

    Good for you! You’ll do great, and I’m truly impressed that you’re making such an effort! After your year is up, you may have to stay another one just use all the French you’ll have learned 🙂