So as I was trying to think of a blog to write, this term came up. One that is very common here in Chambéry but one that when I used it with my friends from the States was… all but foreign to them. I am currently involved in two language exchanges myself and they are by far one of the most interesting dynamics I’ve experienced. SO what is a language exchange exactly?
Imagine that you speak English as your native tongue (langue maternal)
*my English words are slowly being replaced by French ones so I will probably add french terms and phrases when the English won’t come to me.*
SO you speak English, but you are in the process of learning a second language. For me personally, I have had a harder time finding or rather making Native French Friends who don’t just automatically speak to me in English. It turns out it is very hard to speak to someone in a foreign language when you’ve already imprinted on them as an English speaker. It explains why my daughter gets so shy speaking around my friend François in French… even though he is very clearly French, she knew him first in the States as an English speaker. I have the same problem. I am more comfortable talking to him in English than in French. But I am making the effort to switch between the two.
ANYWAY. I digress. SO in my case, I am looking for people who speak English as a second language and French as a first who will speak to me in French and I will speak to them in English. We switch back and forth, switching topics to switch up the vocabulary. The point of this is to help the other person with their English and they help me with my French. This is a situation where it is expected that you correct their mistakes and pronunciation but as you are both learners or foreign to the second language… patience is expected and needed on both ends. You explain things if they don’t make sense, you simple phrases and vocabulary, and talk slowly. This is all par for the course in learning a second language. Conversational French, in my case, in order to améliorer (improve) in. This is not required, there is no grade, and it is literally between strangers. In my case, the first connection was made through a friend with an older gentleman who is very kind and patient with me. His level in English is very very basic so we mostly talk in French and I explain things in English for him. The second, a more recent connection was done through the facebook page of the program I am in. He is my age and speaks French, Spanish, and English and I would say his English is nearly perfect where my French is… on its way… as a result, we ended up speaking more English but were able to switch between the two.
It is a bit scary at first, meeting a stranger and not knowing what that other person is like. But generally, someone who is seeking out a language exchange is kind and open-minded because they themselves have had to learn a second language. They understand the struggles, do not judge and will not make fun of your for mistakes. But that may not always be the case. Either way, it is a neat way to meet new people from that area… and it is a great way to practice conversational language in a less stressful, classroom setting.
Hoping when I get back to the States I can find a French buddy with whom I can exchange Languages with 😀
à bientot à tous