I finally committed to learning how to communicate in French... not Spanish, as I had promised myself eight years ago. I'm currently studying in Alliance Française de Manille (I'm in my second session now) to decipher what people say is a language I would have difficulty to learn. There are a few reasons why I opted to learn French over other languages but the turning point for me was my trip to Switzerland. I thought that since I'd be in Europe, English would be the language used throughout. Oh how wrong I was! My Lonely Planet phrasebook was a great help for asking questions but I couldn't understand their answers... so I struggled, even to buy food! And I did go to Thonon-les-Bains, France on that same trip, with a few Nestle Fellows, without thinking that I'd have difficulty in communication. Plus, I've been put in situations in which the ability to converse in French is important.
So now, I'm in school. The shock came on my first day of my first eight-class session. Our teacher started talking in French. Seriously! I felt like I was back in nursery school, but this time learning to count and learning the alphabet in French. I couldn't read the Victor Hugo (Les Miserables) or even the classic children story Le Petit Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery, both of which I can understand in English. Yes, I'm back to nursery rhymes (pomme de reinette et pomme d'api) and reading Les Trois Petit Cochon (The Three Little Pigs) and Boucles d'Or (Goldilocks). It takes me an hour to go through one story!
Another shock came when I first entered the first class of my second eight-class session. We had the same teacher. When she started speaking in French, I could actually understand what she was saying! I certainly couldn't answer in fluent French but I could decipher what she's asking already!! That was so COOL!! Back in the first session, my classmates and I (except those who were taking the classes to supplement their French class in university) could only answer in words or phrases, with the rest of the messages conveyed by body language; but now, we could construct sentences! There's still body language, of course, but we've gone way beyond where we started off a few months ago. I'm amazed!
And here's the biggest shock for me: When Matty, Val, and Sylvestre conversed in French, I could already understand bits and pieces of the conversation. I'd respond in English still (because my French vocab is still very limited and I speak French too slowly) but I've surprised them quite a few times already... in one day. I surprised myself as well! And when I reverted to reading French text aloud (just like what I did as a kid for English), Matty kept saying that my pronunciation was already acceptable... the /air/ sound of the letter R is still bugging me, but it's okay... for now.
Looking forward to session 3. :D Let's do this!!