So after 4.5 years of learning French from the neighbours, the delivery people, the doctor, the check out lady at Atac, the repairmen, the boulanger, and a few cows on occasion, I've started formal classes.
Yes, that's right. I'm back at school.
And my head hurts.
The classes are part of French program for foreign students at the local university. Most of the students are between the ages of 18-22, coming from all over the globe. There are a few Russians, Polish, British and Americans but the overwhelming majority of the students are from China and their level of written French is impressive. It puts me to shame.
I can talk up a storm in French. (As I do in English.) I have no fear of making mistakes or asking for clarification when I'm speaking, but tackling this written aspect of the language has me, in the truest sense of the word, dumbfounded.
I'm taking two classes this semester. One is reading comprehension and the other is grammar. I enjoy the reading comprehension class. I can follow the articles and I can understand the context. But how is it possible that I can read and understand French but yet have absolutely no clue as to the proper grammar for writing this insane, intense, and beautiful language?
I sit in fear in the grammar class that the professor will call on me. In fear that these young students, who think I speak so well, will realize that I have no base of grammar, I have no clue how to form the written French, no clue as to how to spell. That I am almost illiterate. It's soul destroying at 36 to feel so inept.
Miss Tennessee 1975 told me yesterday, "It's when you get into the classes that you realize just how much you don't know."
Wiser words have never been spoken.
It's going to be a hard semester for me. I might actually have to work and learn. I might actually have to do my homework. Something I managed to escape from all the other times I was at school.