Learning French is really hard. I have been taking classes for a total of three months and though I have made progress, it will be years before I can navigate this city in their native tongue. There have been small victories at the boucherie with ordering ground turkey and defeats at the hospital trying to show I am covered 100% for seeing my doctor.
Most French schools are quite strict with their lesson plans, teaching style and overall structure and l’Alliance Française is not much different. I have taken General French A1.1/A1.2, grammaire and oral workshops. Most of my teachers have been quite nice with the exception of my first A1.2 teacher whose class I had to beg to be transferred out of. As a student who is there on a government subsidy with my VISA, I am treated as a second class citzen. But my American spirit prevailed and I got a new teacher.
I also find the text books a confusing hodge-podge of pictures, text and colors splashed across the page and my eyes can never differentiate what are the key building blocks for the language. In addition, the worst is when the teacher is asking someone a question and while the person is thinking of their answer, another person chymes in as if it’s their personal and private French class. I have had a few choice words with at least one person in each one of my classes when they do it to me. But in the end, they continue to bully the quieter students and only rarely does the teacher step in.
It’s also learning all the “little words” like le, la, les, de, de la, du, à, au, aux, en……and then there is the il-y-a, quel, quelle, qu-est ce que, est-ce que….and the random “t” that’s thrown in between two words that end/begin in a vowel. For those of you who speak French, you know that a lot of this is dependent on the gender but remember that sometimes it’s the gender of the word and sometimes it’s the gender of the person (I think) but really, it’s all about the gender, oh yes, and it’s different if you are talking about a location city versus country. In a way, I am lucky that I do not have a relationship to objects and their gender. Frequently with the Italians, Spanish and Argentinians, they argue with the teacher about why a gender is different in French than in their language. And the teacher’s answer always is “C’est bizzare.”