Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Language Exchanges

Learning French can be tough when you don't really have any French friends to practice with. It's one thing to see words and hear them spoken, but to create coherent sentences in return...now that's tricky. One of the expats we met told me about a website called Polyglot where you sign up and find friends to speak with. He said, I guarantee you, if log on, you'll have a million people wanting to practice English. And within a few days of signing up, I received over a dozen requests to meet. Insane! I didn't have to do a thing. The numbers were a bit overwhelming so I narrowed it down to three girls with my first meeting being this last Saturday. Adam came along as well, and we both eked our way through a two hour conversation. It's one thing to say 'hello, my name is... i live... i like... i come from Chicago....but then to tell your story about who you really are, why you're in Paris, what your plans are (we barely know the past tense of verbs, let alone the future! ha) that's a whole other challenge. We even got into a discussion on prejudices between the northerners and southerners of France, and how that reminded us of our own country's divide. Yeah, it got tricky at times, but I was glad Adam was there to share the conversation. Our French friend knew English very well, so we were grateful she was so patient with us. We have another meeting set up with her again this Sunday where we are to try and describe our own country's politics to each other. We have some serious vocab studying to do ; )

The following afternoon, I had meeting #2, sans Adam, in a cute little tea salon in the 13eme. It was so quaint and warm with walls filled with shelves of tea tins and yarn; I think this must be a local hangout for knitters? But unlike the bar I was in the previous day, this place was much quieter and easier to understand a conversation. Again, for two hours, I tried to speak all in French, and my friend, all English. She, too, was very good (these guys all seem to start learning about age 10 or younger anyways...makes me jealous), and again, it made me thankful that she had such patience. Turns out, she wanted to practice to get over her shyness, and here I am thinking the same thing about myself. I give her, and I suppose myself, a bit of credit; it takes a lot of guts to get out there and speak with a complete stranger, let alone one who speaks a language you barely know. In addition to the meeting this Sunday, I have two more set up next week. As Julia Childs once said, "I'm going to learn this language come hell or high water," and this is my way, so far, to continue forth with my learning with the same enthusiasm as her. The thought of it makes me wince a bit, as you know going into these you will stumble and fall...a lot...but then you always have to remember that sense of reward after saying your au revoirs. Besides, this also gives me a great excuse to explore the city's bars and cafes ; )

1 comment:

  1. I love this post ... it reminds me so much of our first few months in Mexico. I hope you continue to love your Expat status!
    love, mandy izqueirdo