Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Filling in the Gaps

As much as one can enjoy learning a language over conversations at petits dejeuners, picnics at le Jardin du Luxembourg, and luxurious French diners, soirees never hurt either.

But all of that delicious work aside, classes are very useful for filling in gaps in grammar that come from learning on the fly, the way I have over the past year.

I’ve begun a class at Alliance Française in Paris, and though it at times seems to move slowly for a motivated student, and at other times the heat in the salle de classe threatens to put my brain to sleep in the second half of the three-hour class, it’s useful to study grammar points and fill in gaps in my moyen vocabulary.

This week, for example, the class has studied rules for the gender of nouns. Though as in English, there are many exceptions to the rules, in general one can divine the gender of many nouns by their endings. Nouns that end in –age, -ment, and –isme are generally masculine. Nouns that end in –sse, -oire, -ion, -ée, -ique, -té, and –ie, are generally feminine.

Another frustrating point in conversation until one understands the why is when to use qui and que. Qui does not always follow a person, and que does not always follow a thing, but rather, qui is used following a verb’s subject, and que follows the verb’s direct object. Confusing? Yes, un petit peu, but less confusing when you can follow a rule.

Though the points seem minor, they confuse many people like myself, I think, who hear them in action but don’t have the book learning to back up conversation choices.

After class, it’s back to the joyful practice speaking French over a luxurious dinner in Paris. A few more soirees couldn’t hurt either.

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