Saturday, July 29, 2006

Getting Ready for France

Between now and October, I am intent on re-learning French and building up some biking stamina. We’re renting a house with another couple for a couple of weeks in the Luberon Valley in Provence. Isn’t it beautiful in the picture above?

This week I was once again humbled into realizing how much French I have forgotten. I took the written placement exam at the Alliance Francaise, followed up by an oral exam over the phone. Everything on the written test looked vaguely familiar, but there were a lot of question marks on my paper. I was happy that I carried on a reasonable phone conversation without ever having to ask the very French voice to repeat her questions. She seemed quite perplexed that I had gotten things like the present participles correct but I had completely mixed up the imperfect and conditional verb tenses. Her conclusion was that I speak much better than I write. That’s a good start because I’m really only interested in conversational French right now. Next week I get a teacher and we figure out when I can have my lessons. Meanwhile I checked out a books and tapes and French movies from the Alliance Francaise. If I was motivated this weekend, I could get started.

The biking part of this project may be more challenging. I love riding my bike, especially when the terrain is flat. I could ride forever. But unfortunately the Luberon Valley is full of hills. So I’m working at learning to do hills. We rode for 7 miles on a hilly route this morning with a Starbucks latte as the reward for going halfway. I go incredibly slowly on the hills and my husband is always having to ride ahead and wait for me. But I don’t give up and I finally get to the top. I guess that’s about all you can ask for. Riding in traffic still freaks me out because I have this suspicion that some of those cars would not mind hitting me. I’ll just need to look for bike paths with hills and stay out of the traffic.

Both of these projects should keep me busy as I work on tuning up my mind and body in preparation for our trip. I love having something to look forward to.


Blogger Kristin said...

I love the Luberon. I'm terrible at French but manage to get by. I'm sure you're going to be wonderful. The biking, though. That just sounds hard! Your preparation is amazing.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

Bon nuit, mon amiee. Je pense tu ecrivez tous Blog en francais. Bon idee, no?

8:55 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- I'm much more optimistic about speaking French that biking up and down hills. Don't be too impressed about my preparation because I am not in great physical shape to begin with! I figure any exercise can't hurt!

OL -- Remember that I didn't do so well in the written exam. So I don't think I will be posting in French, at least not any time soon. We'll see...

9:33 PM  

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