Category Archives: Parlez-vous français

À l’École des Sorciers

I read about learning a foriegn language and one of the ways is called “Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling or TPRS” The idea is the students are given enough vocabulary to understand a story and that is the only vocaulary used until comprehension is complete. I have decided to use Harry Potter and try a variation of this method. So I am reading Harry Potter, writing down words I don’t know. I am getting more comprehension and finding fewer and fewer words that I don’t know. Also I am able to guess a lot through context because I know the story. I don’t know all the verb conjugations for the verb “to be” (être) but I am able to recognize when I see a form of it. I went ahead an started typing Harry Potter into the computer. I have typed two chapters while I have read over 13 chapters. It is nice to go back and see how much I really understand. I found out that there are 2,200 unique words in the first two chapters. I am going through those words making sure I really know what they mean. This may not be a great way to learn a language, but it does aid in studying because I need variety. I would say that reading is the easiest, then understanding, then talking and finally writing. Everytime I think I am making progress I feel like I am no further than I was when I first got here. I was asked to teach another lesson in High Priest Group. That will be another great opportunity to learn. I don’t know how I feel about using everyone at church for my personal hobby.

Sunday in Rennes

The following is an unedited video of church. This is essentially 3 hours of French class with no instruction. It can be very tiring. The first hour was Priesthood / Relief Society. I was very happy that when the Bishop spoke I generally could understand what was going on. But then when Bernard got up (the first in the video) to speak I was lost. I don’t know if it was his accent or what, but I have interacted with him quite often and I feel dumber and dumber when I had hoped my French would be getting better. Second in the video was Antoine. He is Martine’s son and the Bishop asked him to speak about EFY. After Priesthood / Relief Society was Sunday School. The Sunday School Teacher is Sister Giuo (sp?) Just a month ago I couldn’t understand a word she said. I am getting more, but I find her and her husband very difficult to understand. Again I don’t know why some people are easier than others. I know that some French people talk to us like we are babies, but I can understand some French when they are talking to other French people. At the end of the video I had to capture the Sunday School president getting up on the stand to signal that time is up. It is quite funny. I caught some of the intermediate Hymn and elder Lyman giving a talk. This was all done on our iPod which I am sure is against the rules and I do feel a little guilty, but I wanted to capture some of this.

I had a pretty good day at School. Typical of my perception of French we have gone to class now for a week and no one has even asked us when or if we are going to pay. We plan on paying, but I found out that Mary didn’t pay until nearly the end of semester. It will cost us $700 for the two of us (or more if the dollar continues to fall) I think it is worth it, but if this were just about learning French this would be a very expensive language training. The final bill for just Kim and I is going to be around $3000 for language instruction.

As I get closer to planning our trip home I have to decide when and where. Currently the cheapest tickets are with Iceland Air. The reason is that Iceland is not on the Euro and when the country crashed they crashed hard. The devalued their currency and essentially gave everyone a 50% paycut. So now 500 Euros is worth twice what it was worth before. So most likely we are going to fly with Iceland Air. Today the cost of a one way ticket in July is about 550 Euros and the next cheapest airline is 1900 Euros. Things may change, but July is a big travel month so I don’t expect things to trend in our favor. We will probably buy tickets at the end of this month which is a sad thought to be planning our departure so soon. Now the question is should we stop over in Iceland for a few days. What is there to do and see in Iceland? I don’t even know. It will only cost us about $20 to have a stopover but of course we would have to rent a cottage or something and of course we would spend money on anything we would do. But when are we ever going to go to Iceland? Speaking of trip planning I plan on working in England the last week of February. I don’t know what we are going to see there. I think we are planning on have a Jane Austin day and maybe a Shakespeare day. It will still be Winter so a lot of places are not open. So if we see where Jane Austin is buried, so what? Is visiting the movie site of Pemberley visiting England or visiting a movie set of England. I know one thing we are going to catch some movies. If we see no other movie we are going to see tangled. McKala has seen it in French. We’ve been catching subtitled American movies like Afterlife but the kids movies are dubbed as are most of the Adult movies. BTW we watched After Life and I liked it but no one told me that the movie was 1/3 French and of course the French don’t put English subtitles. I guess it was sort of a warmup to watching a real French movie. I know after watching After Life that I am not ready.

Saturday Night

I’m sitting at McDonald’s near church. I have the iPod. I’m waiting for Kim to be done with her Relief Society activity. Kim is in charge. I could have dropped her off and gone home but I thought I would sit at McDonald’s and study French instead. The truth is I have spent the whole time reading about building airplanes. I have so much to do but I have started thinking about coming home. I got notification that I would get a bonus this year. It will be $17500. It is so sad that it is all spent. After taxes we will pay tithing, will pay off Christmas, and then have just enough to buy our tickets for home.

The French is coming but has its ups and downs. The down today was when I went home teaching. I was completely lost. But then things got better. I ordered Fries and McNuggets at McDonalds and actually understood everything including them telling me they would bring the nuggets to my table later. Then we all went to the Dagry’s Farm for a late dinner and Michelle and I walked around the farm while he showed me their 42 new baby sheep I asked questions about where he learned how to raise sheep, how old the sheep should be when they are slaughtered and a host of other things. I was having a real conversation. Rough, but real. And to top it all off I think I finally am getting the difference between Ce Tout and Sais Tu. One means that is all and the other means do you know. They sound the exact same. I don’t have pictures from our Saturday dinner, but it was a great time. Best French lesson in a long time. Now I have French class tomorrow for three hours. Some people call it church. I am now understanding the whole sacrament prayer, but I am missing most of everything else.

I have some pictures from today and a small video of going to the library and the boulangerie. Not that exciting, but a quick snapshot of our day.

Because we don’t have TV and Miranda and McKala are monopolizing the computer to finish school the kids just sat down and played a game of Mr. Tock. One of the games we picked up at Christmas.

Martine has this game and we played it with her so much we thought we needed to get our own copy.

Later we all went to the library. It is a small library and we picked up some English and French books. I will have to write about the French animation later. It is quite different than the US

We can walk to the library

We had to get bread for lunch. I have not tired of the bread.

Feeling Sick

1. I did not have a good day yesterday and I think today was the same. Because of my upbringing, being sick is a mystery for me. I don’t do it well even if I recognize it. I think I was under the weather yesterday and today. See I can’t even say I was sick. Is it normal to feel dizzy when you walk up stairs. So yesterday I struggled with French. I was a little down because I kept beating myself up thinking I would be further along. At one point I even thought of leaving the church meeting and hiding in the bathroom. I feel like my French has gotten worse. But I must struggle on. I was feeling better last night after Kim gave me some drugs. So we stayed up late watching American TV. Because I like to think of myself as a good husband I volunteered to get up with the kids and let Kim sleep in. Kim had complained that we needed to get out of the house this week. Last week we spent most of the time in the house studying French. I found it comforting even if it didn’t seem to help. Kim was getting cabin fever. So I told Kim we needed to go into town to have lunch. We called up Megan and went downtown to a French café. After we left I was walking up the stairs and I started feeling dizzy. Not like I was going to lose my balance, just that my balance was a little off. I asked Kim to drive and I passed out in the back seat. I then went home and crashed for 6 hours. Kim would come in and give me updates. “We are going to eat dinner do you want to come?” “I am going to have family night, is that OK?” “We are going to have prayer should we come in here?” I got up for the last one and sat down for prayer. Kim gave me some drugs and I am feeling better. I still feel like I can go lie down and sleep throughout the night. So that is a quick update. Work is good. Living in France is good. We are planning our trip to England at the end of February. McKala is doing ok at home. Dakota seems to be heading down the same path that McKala took earlier. We had a talk about it today. Hopefully she will stay in school. I keep telling McKala she did not quit, we pulled her out. Hopefully she believes me. So we are trying to plan our week in England. What is it that we would want to see there? I think one of the lame things we are going to do is go to the movies. It will be nice to take the kids to “Tangled.” I am thinking Buckingham Castle, Stonehenge, and Shakespeare’s stuff. Any other ideas feel free to offer suggestions.

Who is modest now

I can’t believe that it is the 7th and I haven’t written an entry yet. I don’t have any new year’s resolutions but to learn as much French as possible, but I do want to try to enter more. So it is a New Year and I it strange to say we need to get back to our “normal” routine. I mean how normal is living in France? The language is coming along, but I am starting to feel like we would have to stay here another year if we truly wanted to be “fluent” I did say something to Patrice’s mom the other night and Patrice was surprised at the what I was able to get out. That made me feel good. Jenny and Kendra both have said that Kim’s confidence is not in line with her competence. Jenny went to the store with Kim and they were asking about a specific gift that Jenny wanted to give Patrice. Kim felt like her French was worthless but Jenny pointed out that Kim got the information about where to find what they were looking for. I have to also note something that came up the other day. We have been learning about clothing and fashion, which is odd except that it is WAY more important to the French. We learned the word for model is mannequin which is the same word for the mannequin in the store. Now we know that the French version of modesty is different from ours, but I didn’t know how different it was. So the things that shock us, topless beaches, male frontal nudity in movies seemed to confirm my belief that they were immoral. Patrice didn’t see it that way because their nudity was practical, not sexual. What shocked his senses is what woman will wear around town. He said that you would never see a man or a woman in a tank top no matter how hot it was. He was right. So who is more modest. I have to say it depends, but sometimes not us.

Il fait froid

We finally ran out of fuel. Like fools we let it run out so we are sitting here in the cold hoping to have heat tomorrow. We had fueled delivered yesterday afternoon. I had to speak to the driver and muddle through things. It all seemed good. Interestingly he asked how much fuel I wanted. I told him 1,000 Euros and he pushed some buttons on his truck and started pumping. When I wrote the check it was for 1,000 Euros. There were taxes, but those get calculated before the final total. I love that system! The fuel driver left, but the heat was not coming on. Kim called Phillip and I finally called the heater people. I again had to muddle through phrases like, “I don’t see any buttons under the heater” Well they said they would come out tomorrow to turn it on. We are supposed to leave at 8AM for Paris. It is so cold in here. I have the fireplace going, but unless you are standing over it, it is cold. The kids brought their blankets down and camped in front of the fire. Miranda and McKala stayed in their rooms. Some day soon I hope to chat with people more than I came capable now. Calling someone on the phone and getting through the conversation is a major accomplishment if you ask me.

BTW. Did anyone else see the last episode of “Community” That was the most amazing thing I have ever seen, and they have done a lot of amazing things. I don’t know if you have to be a follower of the show to truly appreciate, but man was it incredible.

Is that French?

Monday was day of the dead and so there was no class. I am paying to have someone teach me French and yet I am relieved when class was cancelled. There is something wrong with that. It is a lot like the Lord giving us commandments, telling us we HAVE to do something, that for our own good. “I command you to do things that will make you happy” Well I diverge a little. So we didn’t have class on Monday so we had a makeup class today in the afternoon. I really like class. Today I learned a few things. First is that spoken French and written French are not the same. I asked Valerie (our teacher) if people would understand us if we spoke like written French and she said that they would, but we might not understand them. For example I learned a new French word chui. It is just a way of saying Je suis or I am. I guess it is common enough that it is worth mentioning in a French class. I know we have our own words like ‘sup, but this is evidently not slang. Valerie said that a lot depended on the environment you are in i.e. a business meeting or at a friend’s house. Another phrase I learned today was Bon Courage. We had would delivered to us yesterday and after dumping the load in our yard the man said “Bon Courage” I didn’t know what that meant. Did it mean I feel sorry for you because you have a lot of work ahead of you in moving all of this wood into the garage? I didn’t know. I thought that maybe it meant Good Luck, but I knew the way to say that was Bon Chance. So I asked Valerie today the difference and she said that there was a big difference, but they both mean Good Luck. Bon Chance is like “I hope you are lucky” as if you were rolling dice. The other was more positive and saying “I hope you are successful in your efforts” Both essentially mean good luck, but with a big difference that the French would not mistake. When we were roll playing and asking directions I added Bon Chance at the end of our conversation. I understand why she laughed now. I thought I was saying good luck finding the place you are looking for. What I said was I hope you are lucky enough to stumble upon the address you are looking for because the directions I gave you are not going to help. I should have said Bon Courage. Tonight when I said the prayer everyone laughed because when I panic (we are trying to say our prayers in French) the only thing that comes to mind is Spanish. So it sounds like I am trying to speak French with a Spanish accent. Poor McKala is now the most tortured child. She feels like here teachers expect her to understand more than she does. I feel bad that it is painful, but there is no avoiding the pain if she is to learn French. This is really hard.

4 Down 1 To Go

CK and Dakota started school today. We woke up late. I don’t think Kim slept very well. She woke me up several times during the night asking me what time it was. The last time she asked I said, ” Oh we are in trouble. It is 7:45!” We woke the kids up and I drove McKala and Xenia to school. We came in behind the bus so they were nit late. When I got home Kim was already gone walking CK and Dakota to school. I tried to drive around town looking for her ( it is not a ver big town ) but I had never been there, so I just drove home. Our first day of class in Rennes was today. We had told them we were going to be late. We had only been there once. We just parked and started walking around town. Kim had the wrong adress so we got really lost. We had given up and were headed back to the car. It turns out we had parked as close as we possible could have and just walked off in the wrong direction. We were an hour late to class. The class was ver basic. ” What is your name? How do you spell that?” etc. There at least two other Americans, two Japanese, and one girl from Poland. The two Japanese do not speak any English so this is not a French for English speakers. We ran out of class to pick up Dakota and CK who have a two hours off for lunch. We have not paid or signed anything. They just don’t view money and nutting the same way we do. We walked up to get CK and Dakota. Dakota had a croud of girls around her. CK said they just mobbed her at recess. CK said that he didn’t understand anything, but helped the girl next to him with her math because he finished before her. After walking the kids home Kim and I walked to the grocery store after a rather hecyc morning it was starting to shape up like the experience I was hoping for. We had lunch and then we went out to look for wood. The house is very cold and I like to keep a fire going. Now all the kids are home and they all seem satisfied with school. I am working, hoping they will send my computer back today, still typing on the IPod for email and all computer access.

My Turn to Read

I took the kids to church on Sunday while Kim stayed home with Miranda who had a sore throat. I realized it was the first time I had gone anywhere without KIm. I was very proud of myself for finding the church on my own and everything. I went to priesthood and I had my book open to the lesson they were teaching. I had read the lesson and was prepared to try and follow along. At one point I could tell that they were going around the room and taking turns reading. I thought that I would get out of it by just shaking my head. When the instructor looked at me I shook my head, but then I realized he hadn’t asked me to read yet. I looked down at what I thought would be my passage to read. It was one line. I thought, “Well I can fake this.” So it did finally come to my turn. I was pretty sure this time that he was asking me to read. I stumbled through the sentence pronouncing the best I could, trying Spanish pronunciation if the French was beyond me. I finished and they went about their way discussing what I read. I know they had their books to read along so my reading wasn’t neccessary for their understanding. I have to admit I was a little bit proud of myself.

I went to Sunday School and spent the whole time talking to Elder Long in English. That was bad. He has 2 weeks left. Church was inspiring for me because they sang very familiar songs, Love at Home, etc. and the chapel was completely full. I counted and there were 140 seats and there must have been 150 or more people. It was that crowded. This is a very strong ward.

The Next Big Step, School

We are still mucking about. I worked until 2AM local time last night. It was 5PM AZ time. When I say work, I mean that very loosely trying to “be” at work. I am still fascinated with telecommuting as I observe myself participate in it. A woman I know here at work came back from a leave of absence and she wanted to catch up. She asked what time we could meet and I told her as early as she could tolerate. Well that ended up being at 5AM AZ time which caused her to asked where I was and why I was willing to wake up so early to have a call with her on the East Coast. At first I just ignored that part of the conversation, but it did come up again and I finally told her that I was actually in France. She told me that there was a gentleman that she knew who travelled back and forth to Brazil. At first he was afraid to tell anyone but eventually it became apparent that no one could tell the difference and that it was ok to do so. I have to tell my boss eventually I guess. I don’t know how it will come up in our conversation. I hope to have my phone hooked up next week so that when he calls my “desk” I can pick up in Geveze as if I were in CA or AZ. We will see. So I started work at 5AM or 2PM this afternoon so I suppose I only have to hang around here until 2PM or 11PM tonight. That is only another 30 minutes.

Kim invited Martin and her brood over for a BBQ. We never BBQ in the United States because it isn’t anything I care to do. We are going to have to get used to my unavailability in the evenings. I had to leave to go to work. Once we are settled it will be easier because I will be at home. Right now I am alone in Martin’s house while she and Kim entertain the kids over at our Gite. Today Marie Cheve (who curiously served in the same mission as Jarom) offered to help Kim with getting the kids in school. We found out that for CK and Dakota it will be easy as the local school wants a few things, but nothing that we don’t have. Junior High, or as they call it here, college, is a bit more difficult. A member of the bishopric who teaches in Junior High gave me the scoop. Interestingly he graduated with a degree in engineering from BYU, but now teaches Junior High because the BYU degree doesn’t mean much over here. That is another story. So all kids can go to school for free. However for kids who do not speak English they have to go to a special class where all of the refugees from Africa and Eastern Europe attend for a couple of months until they can be integrated into the classroom. Not all Junior Highs (colleges) have that class. His Junior High does have that class so he is very familiar with it. He did not think it was a great environment to learn French. He suggested that we look at private school. Private school is not the same here in France. Private school is public school where parents pay as little as 30€ a month. Someone told us it was paying for the privilege of smaller classes and that is all. It is common for kids to go to private school for simple convenience. He says that the private schools will be much more willing to take the English speaking kids. He gave us a list of schools to check out tomorrow.

Out of all of our kids McKala is the bravest and Xenia is the most studious. Xenia actually complains if she does not have enough time to study her French. Another friend in the ward took Kim and Me to a private school where she and I could take classes. The University is very cheap, 800€ per year, but we would have to have more French ability. The private school charges 9€ an hour. That would be 1600€ for this course for the both of us. We are thinking about it. When else are we going to have the chance to really dive into French? The adult class starts September 27th so we have to make a decision quickly. I got to see the University / downtown section of Rennes. Wow. It is quite the place. I will have to go and take some pictures. This weekend is some sort of free access to State facilities and there is also a Stake youth activity this Saturday. Phew a lot to do. I hope the update is worth a little even without pictures.