Thursday, June 28, 2007

not enough French

Well, we had an idyllic trip to the half-French, half-Dutch Caribbean island of St. Martin where we spent most of the time hopping in and out of the ocean when we weren't reading novels or eating decadent and/or tropical foods (see my co-authored food blog Three Tarts for pictures of the open-air market). I found a bookstore and stocked up on lots of new board books to read to my incipient francophone nephew Carl--even if he's not bored with the old ones, I am!--plus a few "facile" level French crossword books and several cooking magazines and a couple of novels by Caribbean writer Maryse Condé for me.

But here's what was most disappointing about the French-speaking island: I didn't speak much French. Or rather, I didn't have any meaningful conversations in French. Only one of our cab drivers spoke French; an American ran our hotel; the other guests there were Americans; most of the people we met on the beach were either Americans or French couples with a man in a Speedo-type swimsuit and a topless woman (conditions which made it hard to start chatting with them without staring). Yes, I spoke to waiters and shopkeepers in French, but that was only to convey what I wanted and to express thanks. I read signs in French, eavesdropped on other people's conversations, and watched French TV in the hotel, but I don't feel that linguistically I got what I wanted out of this vacation.

So now I'm especially motivated to keep working on my French during my summer off from teaching. I'll do my crosswords, watch French movies, read more, visit websites and try to download programs to watch or listen to in French. I've also been keeping a long list of words and expressions that I want to figure out how to say in idiomatic French, many of which are toddler-related, occurring to me as I take care of Carl and realize that I don't know a simple, natural-sounding way to say--"go for a ride" (in the stroller), for example.

Therefore, I'm pledging to the loyal readers of this blog that I will continue to improve my French, both for myself and for Carl. Hold me accountable!


  1. Welcoome back, Sarah! The pictures look awesome!! It seems you guys had lots of great time :D. Don't worry about your French .. Carl will help you to improve :D.

  2. You should post in French sometimes!

  3. Here's what I've done lately to work on my language skills: read a cooking magazine in French, did some French crossword puzzles, organized and attended a French conversation group (we'll meet once a month), and went to see the movie Rataouille. (Okay, that doesn't really count!)