Friday, May 21, 2010

A new French pleasure

I’ve been big on conversation since I started studying French last May. It’s my goal to be able to communicate in French with French speakers.
Unfortunately, focusing so much on talking means that after a year of study j’ecris comme une femme des cavernes encore—I write like a cavewoman, lacking nuance and a variety of synonyms to inject into my speech.

Chatting online with French speakers found on social media Web sites is proving to be a good way for me to polish up a little and learn some informal phraseology with those willing to put up with my poor French grammar.

My profile pic on msn:

Being on the West Coast—I end up talking mostly with les oiseaux de nuit, night owls, or very early risers. Et moi, je suis le deux.

The downside? Abbreviations often are used in chats, so depending on who one’s talking to, it might not help that poor grammar as much as one would hope, though I am learning some new words and hopefully getting a better, more natural rhythm to my writing.

The upside, I can easily look up words I can’t understand (and hopefully learn them that way), using my favorite site de traduction, Reverso.

Skype adds an additional dimension of conversation for listening comprehension, all while talking with regular people about regular things, real time conversation practice.

An unfortunate side effect: the people can be so entertaining and interesting that it also diverts one from a long list of devoirs in preparation for an upcoming voyage and demanagement. Oh la la!

Things I have left to do so far outnumber those I have completed (my Facebook friends, English and French, have tired of my complaints, I am sure), but I have trouble breaking myself away from social commitments and cloistering chez moi to put my head down and finish everything up. (Two fun weekends in Seattle may not have helped much, but I loved trying out the Artisanal Brasserie & Wine Bar in Bellevue)

Soon I’ll turn my sights more to what I will do in France—I’ve signed up for a tour to Mont St. Michel, and found a gym to visit pour le santé perhaps, and still need to buy a little boy speedo-type slip de bain pour mon petit garcon (hard to get in my town), and bonnets de natation for us both, and perhaps sign up for a language workshop at the Alliance Francaise.

Enfin, the highest compliment I’ve received so far from newfound amis en ligne? Several people have wondered if I’m French or American—I suspect they are just exercising due politesse, though.

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