Friday, September 22, 2006

Back to School

School resumed September 4 for the girls and September 5 for me. They were eager to go back. Skittles even complained after the first day that all they did was learn each other’s names and “talk.” Boring, said she.

I am almost done with my intensive French class that began the day after the girls returned to school. Fifteen days, three hours a day, 0730 until 1045. The first few days I was so exhausted after trying to think in French for so long, that I would return home and not even have the energy to read or watch TV. I would just lie in bed and stare at the ceiling.

But it got a little better, or I built up some sort of resistance. There are only five of us in the class, so we get to talk a lot, which is what I wanted out of the class anyhow. The others are all 20-something Slovak women. I am the old lady. It is fascinating to me that they all speak decent English already (among other languages). I have the upper hand in French vocabulary as I notice the words they ask about are almost always cognates in English.

But the verbs just fuck me. No two ways about it. I think about Hemingway about being pretty good at French or Spanish but how he was going to start working on verbs. I’m right there with you, Ernest. I do okay until the instructor wants to deal with conditional or subjunctive or even past tenses. The advantage to this intensive class is that I get thrown right in to speaking. The bad part is that they blow through these huge concepts that I barely recall from high school/college, if at all. I should be spending several hours at home reviewing or learning these points, but, frankly, I am too tired and don’t care.

Further, I am developing a perverse preference for Spanish. I had to drive the Spouse to the Vienna airport last night. I had the new Mana CD in the car and discovered, frankly, that I understood as much of it as I would a new English-language CD I might be playing for the first time. In total rebellion, I then pulled out their last CD, since I know almost all the words to those songs, and defiantly turned my back on all things French for the rest of the ride home. Justicia, tierra y libertad!

Then, French teacher announced that Monday we are having a test. Yeah. Right. Like I’m going to waste a weekend preparing for that. Pride does eat at me a bit, but I don’t need a certificate that says I passed a certain level of French. I just want to be able to talk to the teachers and parents at the French school, and the class has helped with that.

Speaking of French school, reminds me of some of the funny things the kids have said in the car. Since my class begins before their school day, I have been taking the tram into town and the Spouse drives them to school. One day he had to hurry as he had a meeting at 0800. He asked the girls if they minded if he just let them out at the gates of the school: they would have to walk down the steps to the building themselves and deal with the coat room/changing shoes themselves.

Skittles got all excited: “I’ve dreamed of this day!” she said.

This week, the Spouse has been traveling for work, so I have been missing the first half hour of class (which, luckily for me, is the time when we review the homework I might or might not have done . . .) and driving the girls to school. “Da drives faster than you,” they report one morning. “Maybe because he can think about more things at once,” they conclude helpfully. Nice. Thanks.

On a more amusing note, Skittles announced yesterday, “I’m going to marry a prince so I can be a princess.”

“Oh,” I say. “How will you know he’s a prince?”

“I’ll ask him,” she replies. “But I’ll check his room.”

Good advice for us all.


Blogger The Expatresse said...

French test update: I passed. I managed to answer the questions in present tense. The teachers commented that they thought my essays were especially charming in content, but that they had to dock me two points for not having used any other verb tenses. C'est la vie. This is what i do.

9:21 AM  

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