I'm not bräve, just naïve...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

James is in the library...

Trying desperately to revise for the exam on Tuesday, which will mark the end of a seven week course in French grammar and conversation at the YMCA International School of Languages in downtown Montréal. The course has passed very quickly, and if all goes well on Tuesday night, I really want to continue in 2006 with the next level of the course. However, my mid-term test didn't go too well, so there is much to be done as I stack up revision of the (deep breath) passé composé, imperfect, future simple, conditional, adverbs, relative pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, complimentary pronounds, subjunctive, passive, comparative, superlative, prepositions and expressions of time.

However, it is incredible to look back and to think we have covered all these topics. I never did particularly well with French (or any second language) at school, only getting a good GCSE result as a result of having a teacher who knew how to help us pass a specific exam. Like everyone who learns a second language away from that language's native environment, it's always a real shock to the system to go there and to realise you don't actually know that much.

I had really planned on coming to Montréal to work, first and foremost, as an architect. That was my initial aim and expectation. It was a purely secondary wish to improve my French.

When I arrived, however, I realised just how much catching up would be necessary to develop on my French. I effectively had to re-learn everything I was once taught.

So, as my dreams of take an architectural 'stage' this year have dissipated, my desire to improve my French has strrengthened. If I can't do one thing, I may as well do the other really well. I don't have a flexible plane ticket out of here. I have no choice but to stay until next September. So rather than throw in the towel because plan 'a' hasn't gone to plan, I may as well adapt plan 'b'.

It's a bit like my attitudes to holidays. I've never taken to the idea of a package holiday; I'd rather find the cheapest flights myself, and then sort out accomodation myself. So with this linguistic challenge, it's been satisfying not to just enrol on a foreign language course that includes flights, accomodation, activities etc etc etc (like the ones that import thousands of bemused and excitable foreign students into my hometown of Cambridge every summer). I'm extremely happy with the school I found, and I cannot recommend the YMCA International School of Languages highly enough. Think of me on Tuesday night: I'm not good with languages, and worse with language exams, and this is a langauge exam I desperately want to pass.



Blogger James said...

Update on James' french capabilities: although I didn't do amazingly in the test, my tutor was kind enough to increase my mark to take into account the progress I've made with my spoken French... so :-) happy James will be able to proceed to level 5 of the course next year. I continue to recommend the YMCA School very highly - maybe I'll see you there when I start again in March?



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