We have officially been in France for 6 months! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by and I am not looking forward to the time flying by this next 6 months. I wanted to give a quick 6 month update.
AJ is slowly making progress with the language. He surprises us all the time with little French expressions he will say. Last week he answered the phone and answered the person on the other line without difficulty. My jaw dropped as he was speaking and I think he even surprised himself. We are still encouraging him to try to bless the Sacrament on Sundays. He is the only Priest in the young men organization so it usually falls upon the men in the Ward, but we keep trying. It is very intimidating for him to offer the sacramental prayers in another language. Maybe he will have the courage to do it once before we leave France. AJ is doing a lot of roller blading. He wants to make sure he is ready for hockey season when we return.
Austin is progressing very well! He is practicing his pronunciation daily by reading his scriptures in French out loud. He no longer says school is so boring and just too long because he now understands his teachers and what is going on. Last week, Austin told me how surprised his SVT (Earth Science) teacher was when he raised his hand to answer the question. He is forming some good friendships and I think it is going to be difficult for him to leave, but he has FOOTBALL on the brain, so I think that is his motivation for returning to the States.
Tristan, by far, wins the prize for learning the language! He has a fantastic ear for the language (I think he gets this from Aaron)! It seems to come so naturally for him. It is still a struggle at times because he isn’t 100% fluent, but he gets it and he speaks all the time in French. The other kids are a little more hesitant still. There are times the phone rings and I ask Tristan to answer it because he can understand on the phone better than myself. (For some reason, I am terrible on the phone in French. I have to see the person with whom I am speaking.) Tristan tries so hard to speak and I think that makes the difference. Tristan is doing great at school. His grades are better than most of his French classmates and his teachers all say he is flourishing. This is all a wonderful improvement from that first 6 weeks of tears and anger about being here!
Jack and Sophie are both doing fantastic. I am so glad Aaron has only spoken french to these two cuties. Sophie rambles off in French all the time and Jack doesn’t freely share his language. We have to ask him to speak French. But, his friends and teachers all say he is finally speaking and speaking a lot at school! Hooray!!!
Aaron is trying to improve his fluency. He doesn’t feel his vocabulary is the same as it used to be. So, he is also trying to improve in the language. Then there is me… I am trying! My comprehension is very good but when I have to open my mouth I freeze! My tongue has not been loosed yet. I think I get anxious when I have to open my mouth. I know what I want to say, it just doesn’t always come out right. It is frustrating for me, but at the same time I know I am improving. My reading and accent are getting so much better! I have given up being hard on myself because there were a few months I put so much pressure on myself to speak perfectly, but I can’t speak 100% fluent and I don’t know if I ever will. The good thing is that I feel comfortable in almost all situations. I am not hesitant to go places any more for fear of the language barrier. That is a huge accomplishment for me.
I came upon an interesting article about learning a new language. Some people have an artistic mind and with language it is like a song or dance. One can hear the correct “rhythm” when listening to another language and therefore they repeat what they hear. On the other hand, there are those who have more of a mathematical brain who have to learn the language systematically. One uses a “formula” for the language and, therefore, it is harder to have the language flow or with any fluency. It is interesting to see who fits where with our family. Aaron, Tristan and Sophie are more artistic with the language. It definitely flows off their tongues easier. Austin, Jack and me have a need to formulate the words, sentences, etc. This makes it harder and less natural. AJ, fits a little into both. He is along for the ride and we are happy with what he can take away from this process.
After 6 months, my dreams are becoming reality! I know I may never be fluent, but that is okay. My kids, on the other hand, are doing what Aaron and I have wanted for so many years: to speak a second language! Selfishly, I want to stay another year so we can all retain the language after we return to the States!