I think we are at a point where many of us are hitting a wall. It has been an intense stretch of time. This week has been much more so than last--but maybe that is the cumulative effect. I don't know. But many of us are feeling it.
Much of that is the need for adequate time to digest. Think about learning math, or chemistry. You can only take a certain amount of new material in before you need some time to sit back, reflect, let your subconscious work on it. I think that is what we are all in need of.
Fortunately for me the next few days sound oriented more towards vocab and discussion rather than grammar. And when I get home, I have one class left in this quarter at the French Institute, followed by a 6 week long review class. And then year 3 does not start until September. So I have a lot of time to work on mastering all the new material I now have. And I am glad they have loaded me up with new material. That is what I came for. They succeeded in giving me that. Now I just have to put the work in.
And poor LIz. She is so frustrated right now. She is in the beginner class, and I really think that is a tougher place to be. At that stage you have so many people who are in it for different reasons, and with different levels of commitment. By the second year, anyone there has made a commitment to do this, and you are all working from a stronger base. And classes get smaller. It makes a big difference. I do think by the end of dinner, Dawn and I had helped her work through some of her angst. She is a smart woman, and if this is what she wants to do, I have no doubts she will succeed.
Tonight was another cooking class, and because the interested group was so large, we were divided into intermediate and beginners. I was in the intermediate group with Elizabeth, from Canada, and her three daughter. We made crepes, a salmon salad, a double-crusted quiche and salad. I worked with one of her daughters, age 12, who was really enjoying spending time in the kitchen. Working with her reminded me of my daughter Sally, who really took to time in the kitchen at that same age. Interesting, too, to try to impart tips on how to separate an egg in French, to someone trying to master the skill.
When the meal was done, and the teacher had left, Elizabeth looked at me and said, "do you want to speak English now?" I was very happy to do so! We then spent a couple of hours talking about all the types of things that women typically speak of. It has been interesting on this trip to experience that commonality among women of many nationalities and backgrounds.
It is also interesting to cook in a kitchen without all the modern conveniences we all have at our finger tips in the USA, along with reading a recipe in French and then all conversation around the process is also in French. One thing that happens here, you just keep having French come at you from every direction! It keeps you on your toes. I am feeling much more confident in my speaking, but then when I am also trying to do something, it is an added complication. But unlike last week, at least I knew to separate the eggs when the recipe called for it!
And for all the frustration at this point, I actually felt good at the end of today's class when Laura and I spent about 45 minutes in random conversation. ( unfortunately Peter was still out sick!) We covered much, and much of it related to food. For example, her perspective that much of the food that we Americans think of as being very French is really targeted at tourists. Take crepes, for example. Or croissants. In the USA we put all kinds of things in them. Here, they do not. Crepes generally only get sweet things, and very simple, two ingredients at most. I told my teacher about croissants in the USA with ham and cheese or spinach and feta fillings, and she looked at me like I am crazy! They like their croissants plain, and then they add jams to them. You can find chocolate croissants, but they actually prefer to call them pain (bread) au chocolat, and not croissants. And they also cost less than 1 Euro (at least here in the country)--again a big difference from the US!
ANd food is not all we discussed, but also cultural differences, like how our countries fund our social security type programs, how different our agricultural approaches are, the impact of fast food options on family structure. Laura is half my age. We have cultural, generational and language differences. Yet we had a stimulating and rewarding conversation. I think that is what this is all about. It is what gets you through dealing with the two steps forward and one step back process that learning a language appears to be.
Sorry but once again challenges with adding photos! Hope to add more tomorrow!