Let the lesson begin…

7 Jun

Well, tonight i attended my first French class since high school.

I cannot believe how nervous i was, i felt like it was the first day at school all over again! I even, for a split second (split minute) thought about backing out. Can you believe it? A 28 year old woman afraid of a French lesson. Ridiculous.

I strode up the street, straight from work and my stomach was doing cartwheels. I didn’t have a notebook, so i stopped at the little paper stand on the corner of Richard Lenoir and payed far too much for one, but i was paying for the spared embarrassment of turning up to class without one, so i kind of justified that. Next i got some cash out to pay for the course and then pushed the little doorbell and trundled up the stairs.


First i had a test. There were three levels of teachers asking me questions, me responding very poorly, cheeks deepening in red with every word uttered, them talking amongst themselves, me not understanding a word but getting even more embarrassed until finally it looked like it was decided i would go with the male teacher.

I was relieved, and and a bit overjoyed i have to say, as he definitely seemed like the nicest one. I peaked over my shoulder and noticed they’d ticked the box marked T2. Through my highly astute powers of deduction, i could see i was in the medium class…hoorah!

I quickly realised however, that being spared the humiliation of the beginners class, did not spare me the humiliation of most definitely being the worst in the class!

The teacher was talking, en francais (il y a pas d’Anglais dans la classe!!), and everyone seemed to understand what he was saying. I can honestly say i had absolutely no idea what he was saying the entire class.

Embarrassing as this was, i could feel the tears welling up in the back of my eyes and i was screaming at myself to pull it together. Which i did, albeit under gross duress!

I left feeling like i’d had the wind knocked out of me. I strolled home the 500 metres, down the rue Oberkampf, really feeling very foreign.

Some days i feel like i own this city, but walking home, i was acutely aware of how far i have yet to go, and how little i have really come.

I don’t even like to admit this to myself, but if i’m honest, the only thing that brought me to sign up for that class was that i thought i would be back with the frenchman. I thought that learning his language was the right thing to do. I didn’t even do it for me and i’m so disappointed in myself for that.

But, at the end of the day, i guess it doesn’t matter so much how i got there.

I’m there, and i’m doing it.

And i’m so glad.


9 Responses to “Let the lesson begin…”

  1. M June 8, 2010 at 9:00 am #

    i’m back 🙂 where are you taking lessons? thought it may be Alliance Française till i read Oberkampf. let me know if you want to meet up to try and speak in pigeon french. i desperately need to get back in practice, having had 2 weeks of non-stop english at home.

  2. liz June 9, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    don’t be so hard on urself poulette!! u have no idea how brave i think u are for even just moving to a country without being fluent. i mean seriously, that takes major guts. u should commend urself for that!!
    and noone becomes fluent overnight. chances are, ur not the only one who didnt have a clue what the teacher was saying. lol. plus, i mean if ur new to the class, everyone else has probably had time to adjust to hearing the teacher speak in french, and has gotten used to his accent, his pace of speaking, etc, thus making it easier for them. not to mention, they’ve probably been following french classes for a while before moving up to the medium level class, giving them a head-start. (btw, congrats on making the medium level!! ur better than u think!!) and dont worry, in time u’ll be at the head of the class 😀

  3. Poulette June 10, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    Liz you are right. I had my second class last night and it was a bit better. But now my cool teacher said he’s leaving! Drama!

    M, def keen for some language practice!

  4. villy June 14, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    All is quiet on the Parisian front?

  5. Poulette June 14, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    You’re right, i’m sorry, i will write tonight.
    I’m feeling a bit out of sorts and if if i commit it to the page, then it really becomes true, you know?!

  6. villy June 14, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Oooh, I know. I use livejournal and I am forever thankful you can edit and delete posts!

    Hang in there, kid. Mind you, sometimes writing about things can give you perspective.

  7. Jean-Marie August 23, 2010 at 4:47 am #

    C’est l”alliance Francaise ou rien, my dear if you want to learn properly and it is bang pang in the 6th, St Germain des Pres.
    Try a little restaurant afterwards “Au 35 rue Jacob”…

  8. Poulette August 24, 2010 at 5:00 pm #

    Hmm, it’s not even an option when you are broke-d-y broke!


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