The last month was the most rewarding month in my French learning. Though I could spend very little time in studying any of the courses that I have purchased, I was able to use what I have learnt in a lot of practical situations while I was in France. I have traveled to France a few times in the last month and I am so happy that I could manage moving around in France using French. Now, I am able to understand more and more of what the natives are talking back to me when I ask them a question and it feels so good.
I have taken driving lessons in French here in Geneva. I have had 4 sessions with the driving instructor. In the first session, It was a bit difficult to even understand what she was saying. But I stil tried to ask her a few questions beyond the driving lessons and rules to fight my tendency to feel shy and not open my mouth beyond the bare minimum required. By the 4th session, I was able to maintain a conversation with her while driving discussing a number of things of common interest. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone has really paid off – before the first class, even the instructor was a little concerned that I don’t understand French well. But in the 1st class itself, she commented that I was talking French well (Don’t take that too literally, I have a long way to go …)
On another occasion, one of my friends had a minor accident and I had to visit him in the Geneva hospital and had to interact with the doctor and nurses using French. I was able to make requests and get them fulfilled and to check on the status of various things using French.
Assimil has been tremendously helpful as it has exposed me to a wide vocabulary in a variety of situations. Whenever I encountered a new situation or a word, I could recollect entire sentences from Assimil course and I could recycle many of these sentences in real life.
Though I got little time to sit and read French, I have tried to actively read many ‘summer special offers’ mailers as well as the letters I received in French. I also read the Traffic rules manual in French. With each new text, I am getting more and more comfortable with French.
I still have a long way to go to reach the levels of fluency I am targeting, but at this point, it feels so good that I have been able to read, talk, listen to and understand French without studying grammar formally so far. I still have the grammar book I ordered 8 months ago lying with me which I plan to study after I finish the Assimil’s Using French and after I read 2 more full-length books in French.
When I was in Chamonix, a valley in the Alps in France and was ordering Pizzas, a lady told me and my wife that she is so surprised that I come from India and was ordering in French. It felt so good to get unexpected compliments like that even though I am still a beginner and still struggling to form sentences on the fly and to understand what the natives are speaking.
I recently met an Indian brother who studied French while he was still in India and then directly joined a master’s level course in France and studied for around 4-5 years fully in French. I was so inspired to hear his story. What an unbelievable achievement! This meeting has motivated me so much to put more time into studying French and practising French. If I continue to study and to put into use what I study, one day I could do business in French or attend courses in French, closely on the steps of this inspiring brother.