Monday, July 8

After class I take a long trek in the hot sun on a fruitless search for my grammar textbook.

Studying. Compiled list of 70 new vocabulary words from Friday's class to memorize. Hard work.

The garbage trucks here make exactly the same noises as the ones at home. Just thought you'd want to know.

C'est dommage. Restaurants don't start serving until after 7:30, too late to get breakfast before going to class.

Had fun in class for the first time, now that I've pretty much lost my first day nervousness. I can now understand perhaps 85% of what the prof says, and I can usually guess the rest. Huge improvement. She talks fast but repeats herself quite a bit and tries to say the same thing in different ways each time. She watches us carefully to make sure we understand.

We started by reading out loud, individually, sections from last Friday's extract from literature. The prof corrected our pronunciation. She had no corrections when my turn came, so I must have done OK.

Then we had to form groups. Each group was given five vocabulary words from last Friday. We had to write a letter to an imaginary friend describing a strange dream. The letter had to use all five words. Our group did well and we had quite a bit of fun working on it, with everyone contributing. I'm glad I studied that list of 70 new vocabulary words. The prof visited the group and took a look at what we had written and made comments, corrections, and suggestions for other ways to say things. A good exercise, I think.

Then we had to listen to a passage from another work by the same author and write it down. The famous French "dictation" that I've heard about but never before experienced. Learned that I have completely the wrong kind of graph paper, so I had to get a sheet from another student. Not kidding. I did well, I think. The prof talked slowly and clearly and repeated each sentence several times. It was nowhere near normal conversational speed. Tomorrow we talk about the passage in class. Then we get our assignment back and make corrections ourselves to what we wrote. Then we hand it back in and the teacher makes corrections to our corrections, and hands it back to us the next day. A very formal educational dance in several movements which I believe is a tradition in French education.

We got the name of the grammar book we need to buy (plus new graph paper in my case, the CORRECT kind this time), and she outlined the grammar topics we'll be covering in each of the 8 weeks of the class. It will all be review for me, but I can use the review.

Walked from the main class to the phonetics class all the way down Boul St-Germain instead of taking the bus. Much nicer on a pleasant (warm, almost hot) day like today. I really wish there was an extra half an hour to stop in Les Deux Magots for a café and maybe a croissant. There's plenty of available tables at that time of the morning.

What can I say about phonetics class? Pretty much "how to say tongue twisters in French." But useful. A good class. Run very smoothly. They've clearly figured out how to do this over the years.

This is all hard work but I like it. We did nothing at all like any of this in my class last year. I think this is better because while it's much harder and more work, I'm learning much more.

After lunch, shopping for the grammar book and new graph paper. Then from 4 to 6 this afternoon a lecture aimed at beginners on "Montmartre et ses peintres au debut du vingtième siècle" (Montmartre and its painters at the beginning of the 20th century). That sounds quite interesting.

Plus lots of homework during my "spare time". They keep us busy.

Interesting example the prof gave in class. Two sentences:

Jean est américain.
Jean est français et américain.

"Jean" here is me ("John"). In the first sentence the "t" in "est" is pronounced, as in our word "ate", a "liaison". But in the second sentence the "t" in "et" is not pronounced. With the word "et", "les liaisons sont interdites" (liaisons are prohibited). And in the second sentence the "t" in "est" is also silent because the next word starts with a consonant (no liaison). See what I'm up against here?

Again a couple of kids started talking in the back of class this morning. The prof just stood there silently and stared at them until they shut up. Formidable.

Two hour trek in hot sun on fruitless search for grammar textbook. All the bookstores are out of stock. Dehydrated. Foot cramps. NOT PLEASANT!

I do, however, now have the PROPER kind of graph paper. I think. I hope. Maybe the lines are a millimeter too far apart or something.

Stopped by a new boulangerie on rue Monge to get lunch, pictured above. A "sandwich Monge", just bread, butter, and ham (no cheese), plus a nice looking strawberry pastry called a "Fraisier". With a glass of my Sancerre (tip: pour glass and chill in freezer for just a few minutes).

The pastry was really good. Not unlike my Charlotte Malakoff aux Fraises, except I couldn't taste any almonds.