I’ve always told people that I can’t speak French. Even after six months in Paris, I’m still adamant to the people that ask, that I cannot speak French.
Lately (as in, over the last week) I have realised that, actually, this is absolute bull.
Seriously, I actually speak pretty good French to be honest. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I now speak better French than I have ever in my life, and know more French grammar than I do English. Yeah. Real talk.
And you know what? I’m loving it. Being able to speak and understand that much more French has relaxed me no end. I’m literally so zen. My classes are easier, my friends are friendlier and I’m just so happy all the time. This year is looking like its going to be fabulous.
As my grandma always said:
Going on holiday to a country is like looking into houses through the window. Speaking the language is like being invited in through the front door.
So, what helped me to this epiphany? Well, a variety of things.
- I took a French test, including a written and oral exam, last Tuesday and have found that I have gone up not one, but two language sets. Based on a test that I rushed through, the lovely people at my language school have decided that I deserve to be in a group of people who literally study French as their degree. Seriously, there are a few Americans that actually do French at university. Yeah. Take that.
- My mum came to visit and insisted that I did all the talking. This isn’t unusual in itself but my mother does actually speak good French. Nonetheless, the clicking moment was when a waitress in a café asked my mum if she would like a coffee and she just went blank and stared at me. Leaping to the rescue, if a little embarrassed, I ordered my mother a coffee as well as two breakfasts and a hot milk for myself without really thinking about it. Doesn’t sound like much but there’s no better feeling that being able to speak the language when your company doesn’t.
- My French class is actually pretty good. When I took my first language course in September, I cried in the bathroom in the little break because it was way too hard for me and I knew no one and nothing. My french was poor, my social skills were poor, I hadn’t got my loan yet so I was quite literally poor. This time round I’m genuinely loving it, can rattle off sentences without thinking, and have the bonus of having already spent 6 months in Paris so have created this air of Parisian superiority around me which I’m sure must be the most annoying thing ever. Whatever. I’m so much more confident in myself and my own linguistic abilities.
- I actually have conversations with my friends, in French. Like, actual conversations where I only speak French. Granted sometimes I have to ask for things to be rephrased or slowed down or whatever, but its a while before I have to break into English to get my point across. I’ve also started doing this thing where I speak in French and my friends speak English back to me. Sounds strange, is actually really helpful. They’ve also commented on how much more confident I am in French and how I don’t speak French with an English accent (yassss!) and my pal Benjamin even told me that I text like a real French person so…. yeah. Come at me, France.
I mean, I’m not fluent. I still struggle over verbs and tenses. My vocab is still poor to average. I still cannot pronounce my French ‘R’s and get teased mercilessly because of it – I literally can’t say the word Paris in French…
Seriously, my French teacher had to tell the class that us English people have problems with our Rs so that’s why I occasionally completely slur my words and my tongue falls right out my mouth. Yay.
This time round, I’m feeling good.
I’m feeling really good.
Has your hard work and persistence paid off lately?
Are you one of those super humans who can do a good French R?