The last day of school for teachers in Victoria is on Friday, June 28th; however, after a quick Canada Day long weekend I will be back to packing lunches and heading to the classroom…but this time as a student. That’s right, people, I am going to school for my summer break! (Don’t feel too bad for me, I get a dreamy two week vacation in August). The kind of “school” I am going to is called La Maison Francaise (we call it LMF), a multi-level French immersion program meant for teachers and other people who wish to improve their French language skills. I am absolutely terrified. You see, my friends:
I had to ask my French immersion husband for the correct spelling…and then he had me check it on Google translate.
My second language is German. I’m not fluent by any means, but I definitely know my “stuff”. I started learning German from my Berlin-born-and-raised Grandma when I was little. My first sentence auf Deutsch was “Hast du deine Zahne geputzt” (Have you brushed your teeth?) I “studied” French from grade 5 through 7. In grade 7 I volunteered to present my French pizza making project before anyone else and my French teacher’s reaction to my presentation was: “Well, you didn’t do the project correctly, but I appreciate you volunteering to go first!” That’s when I decided the French language just was not my thing. I stuck with German all through high school and excelled. I was probably a pain in the neck for my poor Frau (my German teacher) because any work she gave me was just way too easy. I went on exchange to Germany when I was in grade 11 and met some fantastic Germans (still friends with these people today!) and that’s when my German really came to life. I started dreaming in German, thinking to myself in German, talking to myself in German…I began to understand every single word because I was entirely immersed in the language.
Here I am, at 16, in front of the Brandenbuerger Tor in Berlin. Can we please talk about how amazing that puffy white Old Navy jacket is?!
I was on exchange in Germany for almost a full semester, but I still had to write my final German exam when I came back to Canada. I hadn’t done any of the course work while being away, but I passed the exam with a score of 96%. My immersion in the German language in every sense had totally boosted my knowledge, vocabulary and grammar. This isn’t to say it was a walk in the park for me; there were days when I refused to go to school in Germany because it was just too overwhelming. I also may have cried myself to sleep (in German) a few nights during those three months.
Reunited with my amazing and loving German host-family in 2009, five years after my exchange. We are still in constant contact today – in fact, Tina and I saw each other THREE times last year!
I went on to study German a tiny bit in college and I’ve been back to the Motherland several times to visit family and friends, but no experience will ever compare to my initial immersion in the language. I guess what I am trying to say is that I have huge expectations for LMF this summer!!! I suspect I will be in the first or second level of the program (I will find out after completing a placement test on the first day of class). I know LMF will be life (and language) changing for me. It was a shock to my German brain when I discovered that my German is essentially useless here in Victoria. Our school system demands French, so in order to increase my job prospects for next year I have decided to make peace with French, put my German on the shelf for a while, and fully immerse myself into the language of love. *Stay tuned for further rants…coming to a blog near you around July 3rd (when I know I will be frustrated to tears already!)
PS – the ONLY thing that will be saving my sanity this summer during LMF is the fact that Meaghan will be doing the program right alongside me. We foresee many coffee/blog/French homework days in the weeks to come.