Some of you have asked what our classes are like. We each have ten students (Mark is in Debutante 1 and I am in Debutante 2). There are also 4 intermediate classes and 2 advanced classes.
Most of our classes consisted of being asked: if/where/how/when/with whom/why we did something (last night or last weekend) or are going to do something (tomorrow or next week). Then we might be asked to say what someone else said, asked or responded. The idea is to get you using all of the different pronouns (I, You – informal, He/She, We, You – formal, and They) with correct verb conjugations (I am, You are, He/She is, etc) and correct tense (I went, I go, I am going to go).
Aurelia: “Shauna, est-ce-que vous cuisinez à Dallas?” (Shauna, do you cook in Dallas?)Etc etc…. So, as you can see, the fact that I don’t/can’t/prefer not to cook, was repeated, oh, about 50 times in a one-hour setting.
Me: “No, je ne cuisine jamais à Dallas” (No, I never cook in Dallas.) Remember, this is just imaginary 🙂
Aurelia: “Claire, qu’est-ce-que Shauna a dit?” (Claire, what did Shauna say?)
Claire: “Elle dit qu’elle ne cuisine pas.” (She said she doesn’t cook.)
Aurelia: “Christine, demander à Shauna, pourquoi est-ce-qu’elle ne cuisine pas.” (Christine, ask Shauna why she doesn’t cook.)
We also have some joint classes where Debutante 1 and Debutante 2 are together. In these classes, we learn practicalities for speaking simply in everyday life. For example, how a conversation on a telephone normally goes. Where we say “Who’s calling?” or “Who’s on the phone?”, the French often say “Qui est à l’appareil?” … literally, “Who is on the device?” And where we say “Hang on.” while we get the person they’ve called for, they say “Ne quittez pas.” – literally, “Don’t go away.” Mark’s comment to me after these classes is generally “WTF did they say?”
Another class covered simple conversations at a restaurant (making a reservation, ordering, asking for the bill, etc). And our favorite, where there wasn’t actually much student participation, was a little lecture on the origins of cheese, the 7 basic kinds of cheese and the recommended wine for each. This, of course, was followed by a little wine and cheese dégustation, with nearly 100% student participation.
Each student must give an “exposé” (no trench coats involved) to their class before the end of school. Advanced students must talk for 20-25 minutes without notes; beginners for 5-10 minutes. For my class, these began on Thursday. I got a pass for Thursday, because Aurelia knew how much wine was consumed at our table at the school dinner outing the night before. However, my number was up on Friday (with only a couple of hours advance warning, during which we had class). My actual “speech”, if you will, went okay. I had given some thought to what I would say, and by the time you talk about 4 kids, 2 grandkids, parents, a grandma who is 96, AND having been on Wheel of Fortune! time passed pretty quickly. I did have to ask Aurelia how to say “I was a contestant on a television game show.”… “J’ai été candidat un jeu télévisé, qui s’appelle “Wheel of Fortune!” Each classmate then asked me 2 questions. By this time my brain was a bit fried, so my answers weren’t too smooth. In English, something like this: “Before.. drove.. red Camaro cool. Won…4-door Buick. Good for baby; I prego.”… with lots of hand gestures… they got the general idea.
Our overall impression thus far is that, of course, we will learn so much more having attended this immersion school than if we had just gone to weekly classes at Alliance Française in Dallas. But still, at least for us, learning another language is not something that comes easily or quickly, and for every thing we learn, there are a thousand more to be learned. We’re having fun, though, and doing it in a most beautiful corner of the world.
Here are some pics from our weekend outings to Nice and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.