Heyo, would you look at that? It's been awhile since my last entry.

Updates are in order: since my last post, I've graduated high school and been accepted with a counselor! My excitement is tentative, but man am I grateful to have a professional brain person to spew my brain stuff to. Spew is a touch too violent. Spill, maybe? Bit less gross. 

Anyhow, I truly am grateful for that. It was a difficult process to finally come to, but I'm super grateful because I've got some stuff that I really don't know how to handle on my own. I think it'll be really beneficial to get started working through that before and during the beginning of university. Thankfully, my uni is only about an hour from my home town, so I'd be able to drive back home for appointments or do phone consultations, which is nice. (Have I used the word 'really' enough yet?)

I've turned 18 as well! Weird. Legal adulthood. 

And, a week from today, I'll be in Montréal! June ended up being kind of travel-heavy, as I'll be away from home for 18 of its 30 days. That's a huge blessing! I'm so excited to have the opportunity to volunteer in Québec and to get to know such an awesome, multi-cultural place. 

Things are mostly good. Trying to prepare myself for counseling/therapy/whatever the heck you should call it. Enjoying the sunshine and the pretty plants!
Are we ready for my first bilingual Dreamwidth post? I'm so excited! Herein lies the account of the few hours and classes that I spent with a French student my age, provided in both French and English. I'm hoping that one day I'll be able to look back upon this post and smile, as I'm smiling now. 

La Nuit Précédente / The Night Before
Demain, je pourrai parler pour le premiere temps avec une personne française qui a le même age que moi! Il visiterai notre école pour des heures, parlerai avec ma classe de français (et nous sommes cinq filles, ehehe), et il suivrai des élèves à leurs cours. Il ne parle aucun anglais, et c'est son première visite aux États-Unis, alors je suis enthousiaste et nerveuse que je pourrai parler avec lui. 

C'est possible que je vais pouvoir faire des traductions simples (je n'ai jamais fait ça!) si quelqu'un qui ne parle pas français voudra chatter avec lui. J'espère que je pourrai lui comprendre en écoutant. :') Je pense qu'il pourra me comprendre (tant que je peux souvenir des mots correctes).  

Tomorrow, I will get to speak for the first time with a French person my age! He will visit our school for a few hours, speak with my French class (which is myself and four other girls, ehehe), and follow some of us to class. He doesn't speak any English, and this is his first time to visit the United States, so I'm excited and nervous to get to speak with him. 

I also might get to do some basic translation (which I've never done before either) if anybody who doesn't speak French wants to chat with him. I'm just hoping that my listening comprehension abilities allow me to keep up with him. :') I think that he'll be able to understand me (so long as I can think of the right words). 

Après Tout / After Everything
Maxime (l'élève française) et moi avons passé une bonne journée ensemble! Je n'étais pas avec lui toute la journée--seulement pour deux classes. Pour les autres heures de cours, il a parlé avec les autres classes de français (des autres niveaux). Quand c'était juste Maxime et moi (sans les traductions de mon prof), nous avons eu des difficultés avec quelques-mots (spécialement moi). Mais si je ne pouvais pas m'expliquer, il disais, "C'est pas grave." Et avec cette phrase, j'avais la confiance de parler plus et plus. On a mangé le déjeuner ensemble (et avec des autres élèves dans mon école qui étudient le français) et il est allé avec moi pour mon classe de calcul (cette classe s'appelle "AP Calculus BC" en anglais, mais je suis pas certaine comment on l'appelle en français). Il a compris plus que moi. ::) 

Aussi, dans ma classe mathématique, je lui ai demandé comment on prononce "grenouille," et je lui enseigne le mot "squirrel" en anglais. C'était très marrant d'entendre comment il a prononcé mon nom (parce que c'est difficile de prononcer avec un accent français) et aussi "squirrel." 

Dans l'ensemble, c'était vraiment fun et éprouvant, mais il valais l'effort, et on a ri beaucoup. 

Maxime (the French student) and I had a good day together! I wasn't with him all day long--only for two classes. For the other classes, he spoke with the other French classes (some other levels). When it was just Maxime and I (without my French teacher to translate), we had difficulties with some words (especially me). But if I couldn't explain myself, he said, "It's not serious." And with that phrase, I had the confidence to speak more and more. We ate lunch together (and with some other students in my school who are studying French) and he went with me for my Calculus class (this class is called "AP Calculus BC" in English, but I'm not sure what you call it in French). He understood more than I did. 

Also, in my math class, I asked him how to pronounce "grenouille," and I taught him the word "squirrel" in English. It was very funny to hear how he pronounced my name (because my name is difficult to pronounce with a French accent) and also "squirrel." 

All in all, it was really fun and challenging, but it was worth the effort, and we laughed a lot. 

Well, I'm pretty chuffed with this first post, and oh my glory, how spending my day being forced to speak in French was such a delight. I had some troubles explaining things like "there's a leak in the ceiling that's damaging the wooden floors" (I came up with something like "the water comes from high and...that is of wood" XD).  I'm sure that my diction in both English and French here sounds pretty juvenile, but it is my hope that as I become more comfortable with French, my translations will become more fluid as well. I had loads of fun, and I so look forward to continuing to pursue French and fall more and more in love with this language. 
My thoughts on this topic are complex and bizarre, so please don't mind any scattered sentences. If you were speaking with me in person or on Skype, you would be assured that I come by the scatterbrain naturally. And please don't think that I'm trying to sound conceited...I just. I don't know. I struggle sometimes to say my words even in English and not feel guilty for them. Blegh. I don't know.

So throughout my past three years (I've just started the fourth) of studying French, I've undergone a kind of metamorphosis of my views about my place in the Francophone world. At first, I knew that I knew nothing, and was just picking up numbers, colors, and simple verbs, so it was really low pressure. I was totally at peace with my ignorance and was just picking up the basics. At this point, I was pretty much on the same level as everyone else in my French class, but I was happy to be learning how to pronounce words and read aloud in French.

At some point in my second year, another student (not in my year) told me that she'd heard that I was good at French. I remember being surprised by her words and quickly denying them. I was only a second year, after all, and still very new to the language.

During my third year, I began to realize that I enjoyed French more than some of my classmates and that some aspects of it seemed to come more easily to me (pronunciation, and I guess just a desire to participate in class and learn more). But soon, it started to feel kind of like a pressure for me? I was in this weird limbo of being considered good at French by my peers but not feeling super great at it myself. Like, sure, I could do some assignments more easily, and I enjoyed doing them and trying to speak, but as far as my listening comprehension with actual French people, I was so lost.

In the end of second year and throughout third year to the present day, I began to have some thoughts in French. Small ones, and usually not incredibly complex, but they began to happen with increasing frequency (that is to say, maybe 2% of the time as opposed to 0% of the time XD). At first, I was really excited that this was happening and I wanted to share it with everyone. But soon, I realized that it seemed disingenuous of me. I started to feel guilty for sharing when this was happening--like I was bragging about it? Like, "Oh, look at me, I'm so cultured and clearly above everyone." I don't...I don't think that I feel that way (certainly not as much as I used to; I was an insufferable 12 year old, let me tell you). But I still feel guilty about talking about it, even though I *want* to talk about it.

I think more guilt came along with my entry into the world of English as a Second Language classes; I volunteer with a local beginners class for adults, and they're all so much better in English than I am in French. It makes me feel guilty for not having previously understood their struggles in learning English, and I'm so so so incredibly proud of them. But I can't help but feel...out of place with them sometimes? I'm at such an advantage when speaking with them in English (native speaker who has been surrounded by English since birth and been blessed with an education and with a family who encouraged reading and doing well in school).

That's pretty much where I still am: in some weird limbo between beginner and novice, I guess? I know that it's going to take me several more years to reach the level of French that I would like, and I am pretty seriously planning to study it in university (as in, major in it, y'know, that fun stuff). So, this doesn't discourage me from wanting to continue, but it also makes me feel guilty for learning more sometimes?

I guess I've felt that way in English for a long time too. It has felt kind of isolating to enjoy academics in the way that I do, and to happen to have read more as a child and picked up a somewhat broader vocabulary, and have a desire to use it and then, however well-intentioned they may have been, feel isolated by a lot of my peers for it.

I really love and appreciate the people who accept me and my thoughts in whichever words that they happen to come out in, but sometimes I feel so weirdly guilty for enjoying language learning. I guess this might be the product of growing up in a monolingual household, in a monolingual culture? Honestly, your guess is probably as good as mine.



June 2017

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