Tuesday, October 18, 2016
The last couple of classes have been evaluation-oriented, with all of us doing practice exams to give students some idea of whether they are making the progress that's required for them to pass the final exams in order to be promoted to the next level. I aced the written comprehension one but struggled some with the oral comprehension, as is my history. I can understand the words and meaning as a whole but when asked to identify particular words in each of the sentences, complete with contractions and tenses, it is more difficult. Likely I should have gone into the next level to obtain more practical knowledge and vocabulary; however, orally, this level has been the right fit for me. Around the family dinner table, I've noticed I understand a lot more than I did at the beginning, and can participate more in conversations. And when I am one-on-one, the conversation flows more easily. I don't know that I have improved much in my conjugation and sentence structure but certainly, I can have very long conversations with people on interesting topics and still be understood (which is sometimes even tricky in English). One evening this week, Thierry and I discussed salaries, our kids, education, and work history and we marveled at how we were able to keep up the exchange. But, then, I know that the spoken word merely makes up a small portion of understanding; the tone, expressions, body language and such convey a lot more.
My goodbyes have started, with the first being to my classmate Phuong Vi, the au pair with whom I was typically paired during my classes. She doesn't attend Thursday's class so we exchanged emails and may yet keep in touch a bit. She is really dedicated to her learning and will progress quickly, I think, no doubt outstripping me even further shortly.
Next came Josiane at Emmaus. I have really treasured her companionship over the course of the time here as she's 'très agréable' and very patient. She also tries to practice her 40-year-old English language skills so that's something we also have in common. I will see most of the people here tomorrow but as I gave Josiane's keychain to her, I distributed some to the others with whom I worked most often as well. I also took a few pictures of them to help with my memories.
At one point during the day, I overheard someone at the desk ask "Où est le candaienne?" My head whipped around to see who might be asking. She introduced herself to me, saying she was Thierry's good friend and colleague; in fact he had just had lunch at her place that day with her and her husband. Afterwards, I put on airs with Josiane and said "Tout le monde me connaît." France or Canada, everyone knows me. She then taught me the French expression for this: " Je suis connu comme le loup blanc." The French have an expression for just about everything.