I started French classes. Yeah, I finally caved. After years of vowing to never take French, I have been coerced by the question “You’re Canadian! Don’t you speak French?” and the loneliness of verbal isolation to start learning. I must be the only person, wait, the only female on this planet who does not like the French language. It’s supposed to be all romantic and sweet, but to me it just does not sound nice. There is some spitting action happening with a lot of the pronunciation, which isn’t so sweet, and as I´ve learned in the past month of classes, most of the time you only pronounce half of the word. Why do they need all the extra letters? One of the best tips I could offer a fellow English speaker is: when in doubt say: “euh.” It’s more of a sound than a word, but that’s how most of the words in French sound so far, to me anyway.

For example, to ask “Where are you?” in French it sounds like “ooo eay voo?” On top of the fact that French is a bunch of vowel sounds merged together to make a sentence, when learning the language, it’s not uncommon for French-speakers to poke fun at your efforts. Lucky for me there are two other Anglophones in my French class. It helps a lot because our pronunciation is probably the worst. Even the Japanese guy can pronounce better than us. He somehow knows how to not pronounce every letter in the words.

So Wednesday (or should I say Mercredi) after French, we all went for our first after-class social. You know when you go out, you hope to sit next to the “good” people: the outgoing ones who you can easily talk to and are fairly relatable. (Well, I don’t know if everyone has this premeditation, but I do). Usually, I get stuck next to the person I least want to sit beside; either the very shy person, the weird person, or the person whom I have absolutely nothing in common with and therefore nothing to talk about with. That night I was lucky. I sat near the people that I had the most in common with. I talked to the British girl, who is hilarious in a female-humor type of way (think Bridget Jones).

Nobody spoke in French really, because even after a month of classes we still can’t say two sentences in a sequence nor remember what the verb conjugations are. Going out with my classmates was one of the most comforting things I’ve done since being in Brussels. The other social interactions were with mostly French speakers (work colleagues) or other people with English as a second language so usually I’m left out of the conversation since I’m out numbered. It gets quite lonely. Maybe by December I will be able to understand some of the things people are saying? I have no doubt that I will not be able to answer since I’m too shy to respond due to the maltreatment for my attempts at oooing and voooing.

Although, I think I have become an expert in writing English phonetics for French words. I could re-write the French language phonetically for English speakers so that they would have perfect pronunciation from the beginning. Now there’s an idea!

One Thought to “A Canadian learning French in Belgium”

  1. […] Yes, its true, its a phenomenon to meet a Belgian in Brussels and I feel for them, being a Anglophone Canadian in Brussels is also quite shocking. © Michael Flippo | […]

Leave a Reply