Bonjour! Kate and Maisie here! Now that we’ve been here for almost 4 weeks we are noticing how our French is improving through this immersion experience. When we first arrived at our host familys’ house, the conversation mainly consisted of us nodding and saying “oui” (even if we didn’t understand). Now, however, with both more confidence and more practice, we are able to comprehend French quicker as well as form responses.
For me (Maisie), I have noticed that French is becoming more natural. I find myself responding to my host parents’ questions doing little to no translating in my head. Of course it is important when speaking French to know the conjugations and vocabulary, but being immersed in the language has helped me feel more comfortable with actually speaking it. Most nights after dinner with my host parents, I will sit at the table with my host mom and listen to her tell me all sorts of interesting stories, either about her life or just historical anecdotes. At the beginning of my stay, I would let her talk for a while, just trying my best to follow along and usually getting lost. As time goes on, though, I am now usually able to understand all of what she says as well as voice my own thoughts or stories. Having a conversation like this is really helpful because she will correct me when I make a mistake and encourage me when I am able to say what I am thinking. My host parents are also working on their English so sometimes at the dinner table they will tell me a story in French and then repeat the same story in English, and I am able to help them as well!
At the beginning of my stay (this is Kate!), I would let my host parents speak constantly during dinner and just nod my head and agree with everything. One time I said “no” when my host dad asked me if Boston and Chicago were close to each other, and he was so surprised that I had said no for once! But as I became more comfortable at the apartment and with my French, I was able to carry on conversations with more ease. Though my host parents don’t speak much English, they are sometimes able to help me when I’m stuck on a word or two. When my host brother, who is almost eight, came to visit for a week, it actually turned out to be harder to communicate with him because he didn’t know how to help me when I didn’t understand something. Even without talking, however, we were able to have fun together (Pokemon is kind of universal). I don’t think that I have learned any brand new grammatical or structural language rules, but the French that I already knew has improved so much. I am easily able to answer certain questions and to ask my own, something that is really important when trying to meet new people or make small talk.
It’s also interesting to realize how difficult it is to move between French and English. Just the other day, I (Kate) was texting my mom and found myself typing in French! Oh mon dieu! As we are coming to the end of our stay here, we are realizing that transitioning back into the English speaking world is going to be difficult, and we anticipate a lot of slip-ups, so watch out! That’s all for now, folks!
muchos gracias! (wait a minute…)
Kate and Maisie 🙂