I have my next big French test on Monday. On my last French test in May I managed to score 87%, which means that technically I am no longer a Basic Speaker and I am now an Independent Speaker.
Since then I have moved from group classes to one-on-one classes twice a week. We started right back at the beginning from the present tense, then past tense, future tense, and conditional tense. The classes are exhausting, but it’s good to be forced to speak French for over an hour, twice a week.
I have had a few very tiny real-world successes that give me encouragement:
- I have asked for and understood directions to find some WD40 (dooble-vay day quarante) in a hardware store
- I have ordered pizza on the telephone, and the correct food was waiting for me at the restaurant
- I talked to my neighbours about the weather
- I explained the location of a parcel that I required to the receptionist
- I gave directions to Ikea to someone lost on the Metro
- I had a five minute conversation with a monolingual francophone at a party
When I listen to people speak, I still find myself frantically translating each word into English, instead of simply letting the meaning wash over me. And when I am browsing the web, it is all too tempting to let Google Translate do the work for me. I am still completely lost when I listen to a conversation between friends on the metro or even a dubbed episode of Buffy.
It is really hard to stay motivated to sit down and practice French every single day, and so easy to stay wrapped up in a tight Anglophone bubble. My iPhone is loaded with French apps and my shelf with French textbooks, yet it’s much more fun to watch an episode of Make it or Break it than conjugate verbs or watch les news on TV5Monde.