Tuesday, February 23, 2010

But, No, Really, I'm Not That Good

In a fit of extreme economic intransigence, I have been wasting my audible credits. Having poured who knows how much useful money down audible's gullet, I sought to rectify the problem by using some of my credits this weekend. Devoted partner and I wish to learn some Spanish, so I got us some Spanish 1, and I, in preparation for the daunting task of acting as translator between my parents and Etienne's, thought I'd do some refresher work in French, downloading French 3.

This was a mistake as it gave me an inflated sense of self. I should have known when the English introduction kept harping on about how this course would allow me to have interactions while traveling that I might not gain much from it, but when the lesson started with, "would you like to come to my house for dinner next weekend?" I knew I had just been screwed out of an audible credit.

If you have ever had occasion to speak French with me, you'll know I'm no great shakes. Yes we can go on about how frickin' impressive it is that I taught myself, but when you listen to me actually speak, or better yet be incapable of answering the sous chef's "do you eat pork?" because I couldn't decipher his accent, you'll know that to call me an intermediate student of French is generous.

Still, I can handle do you want to come to my house for dinner next weekend. Because I've been doing this for over ten years. And now we come to the dilemma: it appears that there are no more audio courses available to someone like me who can get along perfectly well in everyday situations, but would like to be able to speak at least half as intelligently in French as I can in English and, more importantly, understand the intelligent speech of others.

This isn't difficult, you say, why there's an Alliance Francaise right in Greenwich. Yes, this is true, however, due to the unusual nature of my French acquisition, I don't readily fit into a group class - I have a mixture of really advanced concepts tempered by some inabilities that a French 1 student would scoff at - and the private lessons are ridiculously overpriced - I want to speak better French, but not at $80/hour.

And I'm pretty damn picky when it comes to tutors. Yes, I could go back to the tutor I had five or so years ago who I really really liked, but she's in Tribeca and I'm not sure I'm willing to commit to that...again. The others I've tried have been uniformly, well, children. One of whom spent our lessons trying to convince me, albeit in French, that the CIA planned the World Trade Center attacks. The tutor has to be actually from France, not Quebec, not Brussels, not Rwanda, and preferably not from the very-difficult-for-a-novice-to-understand Marseilles regions. And, since there are things I should be learning, perhaps someone who has ever taught before, not just someone who happens to be French.

So I'm going to give a look around the neighborhood and see if I can find some native French speakers who will tutor me in the Fairfield county at a rate more friendly than the Alliance's (though I will consider looking into their next period's intermediate classes), but I did so hope I could have just done it on the train with the iPod.


  1. Try watching french movies with french subtitles. It's how I learned French!

  2. Yeah, but you LIVED in Paris, cheater!