10 December 2008

Petit à petit

The last time I reflected on language here I was negative, upset and notably disappointed. But lately, I’ve been thinking back to my first French classes at Smith, or even my classes last year, and I realize how far I’ve come.

The mere fact that I had the courage to give an oral presentation in front of a class of French students is miles of progress from the days I would cry after Fabienne’s class because I wouldn’t and couldn’t participate.

I used to avoid my French professors’ office hours for fear that I would have to speak to them in French, but now, it’s commonplace that my advising sessions and other awkward interactions with Peter Bloom all take place in the language.

Even as recently as last year, I froze and suffered from mild panic attacks when instructed to discuss something in French with a classmate. Today, I can easily carry on an average conversation about life, classes, stress, plans, etc. with my friends.

Not to say that my French is perfect – what an exaggeration that would be (Upon completing my presentation, the professor’s first remark was that it was very “courageous” for us American students to present in French, a tell-tale sign that my French was flawed) – but I am beginning to appreciate my own progressions and improvements. The progress may be on a smaller scale and at a slower pace than I was hoping for, but the progress is there.

I still know there is always more work I can be doing to improve.

I don’t speak French nearly as much as I should. This time of year, the language pledge is becoming extremely lax, even at Reid Hall. It’s unfortunate to see how quickly we can devolve into English. All it takes is one English speaker, and suddenly we are all relieved of the burden of the effort to think in French. I know I’m not nearly as vigilant as I should be, but it’s hard when I am one of a few trying to keep French up.

With the holidays quickly arriving, I will have a lengthy vacation from French with my non-francophone brother visiting and our travels bringing us to non-francophone countries so I am determined now to keep my French up for these last few days before break.

I’ve come so far and I know that with each speaking opportunity I am making progress, no matter how small.

No comments: