Friday, January 30, 2009
I've just started an intensive French course at Uni. Two-and-a-half hours a day, Monday to Friday, for one month. Certes, il est très intensive!
To make matters worse, the course is Italian to French, not English to French (in other words, the teacher assumes that everyone speaks Italian, and so she does all of her non-French teaching in Italian).
Luckily, I've learnt enough Italian to follow what she's saying, and the miniscule amount of French I picked up at GCSE level in England is also coming back to me. I can understand (more or less) everything which is being said, and I feel I'm really getting a basic handle on the French language.
Knowing a little Italian alongside English is also useful, because if a French word isn't similar to the English, then chances are it will be similar to the Italian (through their shared Latin roots). For example, the French word "savoir" doesn't sound anything like the English equivilant "to know"... but it does sound similar to the Italian "sappere." An even better example, though, is "quelque chose" (something), which is just a different pronounciation of the Italian "qualcosa."
I really want to be speaking French (at least at a basic level) when my course is finished. So, to this end, my French friend Arthur and I have agreed to meet up once a week for "French Friday" - which will see us converse entirely en français. I've also arranged for a English/French language exchange with a French/Italian girl from my course. Finally, I'm looking around for a possible pen-friend to practice my French writing with.
I still have a loooong way to go before I can call myself a French-speaker, however. Last night, Elle and I watched a French thriller, Tell No One, with English subs. It was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time (reminding me of a less sadistic version of the Dutch movie Spoorloos) but the everyday French they spoke was totally alien to me and my "classroom" French. Sacrebleu.