La Porte

After our study abroad in Jordan the summer of 2008, Max and I backpacked through Europe for a few weeks.  We started in Greece and then moved to Italy and lastly France.  By the time we got to Italy we had studied enough from our "Pocket Italian" and started recognizing enough similarities between our Spanish and Portuguese, respectively, that we did pretty well linguistically.

When we walked out of the Charles Du Gaulle Airport in Paris we felt pretty confident about our ability to piece together enough French to get around.  It's a romance language, right?  But in truth, French isn't so much like Portuguese or Spanish are to Italian.  It didn't just "come to us" in moments of dire need like I thought it would, and we spent a lot of time making grand hand gestures and pointing at things.

French class at FSI has begun for me and Max and for me, at least, it's been a bit like that week in France.  I have appreciated my Spanish training to the extent that I understand formal and informal and the general concept of conjugating the verb "to be", but my pronunciation...is not awesome.  I do have to say; however, that my teachers are fabulous and I am really enjoying class so far.  Max and I are in the same class (ahh, I know) and we study French for about 5 hours a day each day.  It's intense.  One of our teachers is from France and the other from Congo.  The one from Congo is especially cheerful and energetic.  It's like he really thinks I can do this or something - a pretty good quality to have in a language teacher.

Several people have pegged Max for a ringer in our class because he picks up accents so well.

"You've taken French before, right?"
(yeah right)

It's all that singing I tell you.  Parents: teach your children to sing if you want them to pick up languages.  I really think it has been the single greatest factor in him learning languages so well.  French is almost tonal in its crazy vowel scheme, and I've been practicing "La Porte" (The Door) all weekend to get it just right.  But it sounds like just another "Fa" or "La" to Max.

During our two hour lunch break we usually sit under the trees at FSI and practice together.  It's kind of awesome.   


  1. How interesting you should say this--we just listened to a Radio Lab segment about how Chinese kids rock at music and a lady who theorized it is because of their ability to hear tones. Something like 47% of the Chinese-speakers she studied had "perfect pitch" and that was just a random sampling.

    Anyway, way to go for both of you!

  2. I read your update this morning and have been singing "Les Poissons" from Little Mermaid ever since. Here is the first verse for you just is case you want to sing it too. I think I am going to dig out the "tape" and give it a wee watch. Love you both.


    Les poissons
    Les poissons
    How I love les poissons
    Love to chop
    And to serve little fish
    First I cut off their heads
    Then I pull out the bones
    Ah mais oui
    Ca c'est toujours delish
    Les poissons
    Les poissons
    Hee hee hee
    Hah hah hah
    With the cleaver I hack them in two
    I pull out what's inside
    And I serve it up fried
    God, I love little fishes
    Don't you?

  3. I look forward one day to learning another language... best of luck during your class!