Alors! Vous ne comprenez rien!


On Monday I attended my third conversational class. In addition to nine hours per week of traditional class, I’ve added a couple of hours of conversational classes in an attempt to actually try to learn more about speaking French. Monday’s class was terrible. The teacher is a French lady in her sixties or seventies and I’m not really sure why she signed up to teach this class. My initial thought is that she wants a platform from which she can offend people from other countries. If this is her goal, she’s succeeded. If her goal is inline with the class objectives of helping people speak French, she’s failed. For one hour we basically listened to her talk about how all educational systems from other countries are inferior to the French system. At first I just wondered if it was my poor grasp of the language but as the class continued it became clear that my language is adequate enough to to comprehend the fact that she was offending nearly all the students. She was also a bit miffed to hear that students studying medicine in the US spend more time in school than French students. She then proceeded to talk about all of the “inferior” doctors who are coming to France from Romania and Poland. Well, this did not go over well with a friend of mine from Poland who proceeded to get in a bit of an argument with the professeur about the cost of school. The professeur started talking about how expensive it was to go to a private university in Paris. My friend’s husband had just graduated from a leading private university here and she knew that tuition was reasonable. The professeur would have none of it. I kept my mouth shut about tuition costs in the US because they would boggle the minds of all the students here. Madame then proceeded to talk about how law schools in France are more difficult than law schools elsewhere. And this offended another friend who is from Egypt, and who happens to be a lawyer. By the end of class I was having to stifle giggles because it was apparent to everyone but the teacher that she had dug herself into a hole. Not only were we, the students, hardly able to get a word in edgewise, but she then looked around the class and asked us what we had been able to understand. Most of the students had understood a good bit but when she got to me me, she just pointed and said “Alorsvous ne comprenez rien.” In case you have trouble with that, here’s the translation: “Ack! You don’t understand anything.” To which I simply nodded because while I could comprehend a bit of what she was saying, I really didn’t understand what on earth was happening. “Alours” is right!

Today I took the opportunity to transfer out of that class and sign up for another. Here’s to hoping we talk about something other than educational systems and focus more on conversational skills I may actually use on a daily basis.

My other conversational class is fantastic. I am really enjoying it. We’re reading The Little Prince and discussing things like what we did over the weekend. Il est trés bon! The teacher is a lovely elderly Frenchman and he asks great questions and I’ve learned some valuable things already. For instance, guess what it costs to have a locksmith come to your home in the event you’ve locked ourself out of your apartment? 500€! Yes, that’s around $700. If I could find a way to attach my keys to my person, I would do that. I am really enjoying this class but a lot is still going over my head. For instance he was asking me something about Thanksgiving and saying “soldes” a lot. For some reason all I could think of was soldiers and I was trying to make the connection between Thanksgiving and soldiers. I took my usual approach when faced with a befuddling discussion and simply smiled and nodded. And then it hit me that he was actually talking about the Black Friday sales. Ei yi yi! At that point I was able to string enough words together to explain to the people who had no idea what Black Friday was that it’s when a lot of people do their Christmas shopping and that it’s crazy.

And so, the adventure of learning another language continues. It’s fun, it makes me talk a whole lot less, and it is now effecting what I say in English! My conversations with fellow classmates (who all know English!) is that strange hybrid tongue, Franglish. Well, I am now off to study my vocabulary.

Hello there!

About Rebecca

Hi! After five years in Europe, I'm adjusting to life back in the US. I use this blog to record my adventures, post photos, organize recipes, and post about things that interest me.
This entry was posted in Paris, Studying French, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Alors! Vous ne comprenez rien!

  1. Debra Kolkka says:

    What beautiful photos of heavenly Paris. I was there a month ago.

  2. travelingmad says:

    Congratulations! Sounds like you’re making some progress. Sadly I am still struggling with the French language myself but am optimistic that I will one day speak this foreign language with ease!
    Bon Courage for both of us!

  3. Rea says:

    Je suis très heureux que vous quittez cette classe! Votre nouveau professeur sons merveilleux ! Aussi, vos photos des feuilles et le canard sont superbes. Il ressemble à un tableau de Monet, en particulier avec le bleu! Bon chance avec vos nouveau professeur!
    Amor,
    Mere

  4. Sloane says:

    I love me some Franglais! My current phrase du moment is J’agree. Je pense que it applies to many situations and it’s been tres utile. :)

  5. I love photos of Paris – and these photos are further proof of that! Thanks for sharing and keep on enjoying that french class!

  6. POP says:

    Looks like you’ve been enjoying Jardin du Luxembourg and the Fountain Marie de Medicis!
    Nice pics.
    Your lady teacher, in her previous life ;) must have been an old codger or a burned-out french waiter. Take your money and run from her!
    Thanks for the amusing story and take heart. And remember you are in France

  7. jcrkelly says:

    that is a crazy class! i’m so shocked no one said anything… even if she was le profesuer… but i can understand just letting her look like the fool she played herself out to be. c’est la vive (<– one of the few french phrases i know).
    i'm still reading up on you (even if you guys aren't in edinburgh anymore) and enjoying your posts.
    now, why did you guys move to paris for a year?

  8. Coco Marie says:

    Hahah isn’t this the life of an expat in Paris?? Such a difficult task to learn this language. I have been living here over a year and still have these very same struggles. I am sure you are making more progress than you can even imagine. I wish you the best of luck learning such a difficult lagnuage!!

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