"chassez le naturel, il revient au galop"
(chase away the natural, and it returns at a gallop)
Our instructor used this french saying several times in the last few days- a good theme as we dive in to French studies and pronunciation. We're going to be doing lots of "chasing away" our natural English speaking tendencies.
This week began with a few days of orientation to life and studies here at CCEF (Centre Chrétien d'Enseignement du Français). All of the students here are learning French for the purpose of use on the mission field, most will go to Africa and a few will stay here in France to plant churches. Most of the students are married with children, and come from a wide variety of missions organizations (Mission Aviation Fellowship, Samaritan's Purse, and many more).
A few thoughts on class....
Our first real class was Thursday- we have a fantastic teacher who has many years of experience here at the school. The first days of class have been devoted to learning to pronounce French vowels, and recognize combinations of them in written words. Our tendency as English speakers (with English brains) is to look at French words and try to say them using the rules of English phonetics, which won't get you anywhere near the right pronunciation. And not a single French person will know what you are talking about.
So, "chasing away the natural" has mostly felt like speech therapy this week. (scenes from the movie "The Kings Speech" flashed through my mind several times in class) We are learning an entirely new set of rules for how to process written words. And a whole new way of moving our mouths, which has made class really entertaining. Just get a group of English speakers together to practice their french "R" sounds and you'll see. :) The French language uses far more muscle movement. A person can speak English and barely move their mouth- not so with French.
Nick and I have already worked in French speaking nations and picked up some vocabulary, but we've never had formal instruction. I have already had so many "light bulb" moments, the language makes so much more sense when someone explains the rules.
The pace we are taught at is very quick here- please pray that we are able to absorb all the French we can during these months! The more we learn, the more effective we will be later on.
Here are a few photos of our apartment here on campus. We just head down one set of stairs to get to class....kinda like the ship :)
The wood paneling on the walls in the living area is my favorite thing about the place...makes it feel like a cabin.
This was my decorating project from yesterday, I love having some of our own photos around the apartment... (photos printed with the awesome 10 euro printer Nick managed to find for us...that guy is good at finding deals) :)