I’m struggling to keep up with my kids in the French-language stakes. It’s simple really – their brains are young, mine is old. So while they are picking it up easily, I’m trying everything I can to ram it home. It’s going in. But It’s a slow process.
Those eight hours a day they spend at French school is really giving them an edge too.
So in an effort to boost my vocabulary, and possibly make some new French friends, last night I decided to head along to the local English speaking club – a group set up for French people who want to learn, or practise, speaking English.
I was met by 6 friendly French people, who all seemed very pleased that they had an authentic Englishman living in their village. They were all retirees, with the exception of the town Chemist. We decided – as me is already quite not bad at English talking – that I would speak French to them, and they would speak English to me.
‘But you must correct us!’ they told me ‘And we will correct you!’.
As it was my first time meeting them I didn’t want to ruffle their feathers, so kept any correcting of their speech to a minimum. They, however, had no qualms whatsoever about correcting mine.
This put my French to the test as, for the next one hour and 45 minutes they bombarded me with questions. It would have been shorter, but the amount of pauses I had to make in my responses, as I incorporated their corrections, dragged it out. They even corrected me when I told them that my 4-year-old daughter is already correcting my French – because I said the word ‘correct’ incorrectly.
I pointed out to them that this was like some kind of interview. They agreed with me but then corrected me and said no, it was more like an interrogation.
There were many funny little exchanges throughout the evening, as we discussed everything from Ed Sheeran’s singing, and his engagement, to how to make a Yorkshire Pudding, and why they were created in the first place.
My favourite part of the evening was when they were discussing their children. Some of them were clearly put out that they didn’t see their offspring often enough. The chemist piped up at this point, saying that her parents see her at least once a month. ‘Well they have to’ she said ‘I give them all their pills’.
Now that my headache has subsided I’m already looking forward to next Monday’s session.