Thursday, June 23, 2011

La Natation

Tomorrow will be my last day of language school. Although I have had the luxury of dedicating a full year to learning French, I can't help but feel that I have only just begun to scratch the surface of this rich and beautiful language. Don't get me wrong. I've come a long way. Its just that I still have so far to go!

I am both delighted and terrified that our church planting training in Loches will be entirely conducted in French. I know that in this way I will be forced to continue to build on the basic skills that I have acquired so far.

At least I have the constant aid of Graham and Chandler, who correct me relentlessly--at my own request. Having been immersed in the French schooling system this year, they quickly learned that it was "sink or swim," and I can say with a great deal of assurance, those boys have swum.

Me? I feel like I can keep my head above water. But like a child learning the breaststroke, my style is far from elegant and painfully inefficient. A limited vocabulary means that I must sometimes talk circles around an idea that I wish to express due to an inability to name it directly. My horrible accent means that even when I have the right words in mind, they do not always get pronounced in a manner that is understood. And with about 19 different verb tenses, talking still takes an amazing amount of thinking. Sadly, I am not used to thinking before I speak. If only language-learning came with a life jacket!

As I find myself knee deep in this analogy, I am amused to realize that I LOVE both swimming and speaking. I have no memory of learning my first language. As with most children, I learned to speak rather effortlessly as part of my normal growth and development. I do, however, remember learning to swim. I lived in south Texas as a child, and we had a pool in our backyard. Swimming was a daily activity for most months out of the year. I remember that as my abilities grew, my privileges in and around the pool also grew. No one expected me to dive into the deep end and swim a perfect freestyle in my first year of swimming. I stayed in shallow water. Oh but I looked with great envy at those who moved easily through the deep waters. I was not going to be limited to the baby pool forever. I would work hard to make sure that I could eventually explore the whole big pool, and even try my skills in lakes and oceans.

I suppose that is the way it will be with French. For now, I must contend myself with shallow conversation, clinging to the walls of a limited vocabulary. I will enjoy the cool waters, but I will not settle into them! I look longingly at those who converse in the deep waters, I will struggle until I have earned the right to join them.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I am one of the 3 bloggers at Thoughtfully on Paper, and we are from Miami, Fl., but we all speak Spanish, English, and French. God put it in my heart to translate our blog, but maybe we can help each other out too :) Let me know what God tells you. Blessings!