Well, it has been over a month now since Evangeline and I have been in France. She has been in school for a month and I will be starting school next Monday.
Evangeline has taken to school pretty easily despite not knowing the language but she is resisting actually learning French. Reluctant to use French with anybody but me… she gets very shy when trying to speak, which I can understand myself as I am the same exact way. The funny thing is, she pronounces the words better than I do which is funny. She also claims she doesn’t understand French but… her own actions disprove that notion. This last weekend we took a trip up to visit distant cousins of ours and on our first train ride up to Paris, the conductor said something over the intercom I didn’t hear nor understand. Evangeline translated for me, telling me that the train was going to stop soon. So she does understand French better than she could but she doesn’t even realize that I don’t think. I mean she’s five and soaks things up like a sponge. I am looking forward to starting school because the faster I learn French and use it at home regularly the faster she will learn it too.
Right now we are both stunted by the relative isolation we have from other people outside of her school. Sure I have some friends and a landlord but I don’t see or talk to them much. At Evangeline’s school, they speak what little English they know with her because she refused to speak or learn French from them…opting to ask me how to say things instead. The weekend I do spend in the company of native French speakers sees a drastic leap in speaking, understanding, and willingness to use French for both Evangeline and I. I am finding that most people who do speak English in France would rather speak English with you so they can learn English better…rather than speak French so they can teach you. So though it is great to have other people who speak English is stunts me in my ability to learn and practice French.
If I could do one thing differently, it would be to find a host family to live with who speak the native language only. It’s stressful and all but it is the best way to learn a language. Everyday interaction with a native speaker. Having my daughter here with me is also stunting that because she has to communicate with me in the one language she knows well and until she’s comfortable French, she is going to use English. I do think that by the end of the year we will see a drastic increase in our language learning and I am sure there has already been a huge shift. It is just hard to see at the moment.
One thing I admire is Evangeline’s adventurous spirit and her ability to connect with people. It has served her well, people are drawn to her and want to help her. I have so many children’s books in French than I even know what to do with. Great for practice for both of us.
The one thing that I am going to have to figure out is my school schedule against hers. She has different breaks from school than I do and a half day on Wednesdays. It’s things like that you never really consider until they are right there in your face. All in all not much to update on yet other than we are settled in officially now. Things should start to pick up and then the real fun begins.