The Infinitive – and beyond!


Part 1 – Baz’s route to French

‘Daddy’s behaving suspiciously.’

I looked out and saw him crouched down among the chickens at the back of the garden, apparently gazing into his phone. Given that we have virtually no signal in the front garden, I thought this was indeed suspicious but perhaps it was better not to ask…

That evening Baz told me that he had been secretly learning some French vocabulary using the Linkword app on his phone, following the suggestion of the serveuse on a visit to France in August that he and C should not rely on me so much (and perhaps more so because he had been frustrated that he could only say “bonjour” to the lovely elderly lady who stopped them in the street to chat one morning)

I was hugely impressed that he was doing this, but slightly worried that random words like hedgehog and wasp etc might not help him much with everyday conversational French, so I dug out the dust-covered and previously unused Michel Thomas CD set which a friend had recently recommended. I bought it over ten years ago, but the desire to learn back then just hadn’t been strong enough to persuade either of us to put up with the really irritating female pupil on the CD

Baz’s wish to learn has clearly increased since then. And this course focuses on the similarities of the language with English, of which there are many, rather than the differences. Why didn’t our French teachers at school do this, instead of scaring us with their ‘you’ll never understand any of it’ attitude? I left school with no confidence and no expectation that I would ever learn French, and the strong belief that only certain people had the sort of brains required to process a second language

Just a few weeks on, he has been listening to the course in the car, there is no written work, and he already has a very good grasp of the mechanics of spoken and written French, referring to me for vocabulary from time to time. He has become fairly competitive (it’s a man thing), seemingly driven by the desire to be better at it than me. In twenty years I had no idea he had any aptitude for languages, so his improvement is remarkable!

My French is fairly rusty and I harbour no such ambitions, though I really should improve and would definitely benefit from listening to the course properly. I have stuck it on my iPod and will try to cover some of it while I sweep and mop this week, in preparation for meeting the builder on Tuesday



Author: poshbirdy

Art deco/ art nouveau maniac enjoying a deep and meaningful relationship with alcohol

9 thoughts on “The Infinitive – and beyond!”

    And tell him that the old ladies don’t mind him only having a few words, they just like to chat up English men (Trev has quite a fan club) and they will always compliment you on your children (especially a beautiful daughter like yours)!


  2. Yes, I found the irritating lady student on the Michel Thomas course a big put off.
    I follow Comme Une Francaise when I have time & thinking about Babbel
    Trouble is I have no time.
    I shall settle for learning Campegnoise, which is some way from the French I have tried to learn by other routes but at least I can speak to the neighbours. My BIGGEST problem is with other English people correcting MY French, it dents my confidence fatally (One friend does this all the time) so now I forget all the French I know when I have an audience.
    I have no problem with the French natives putting me right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like you, I welcome improvement from native speakers, but it really grates when it’s done for the sake of being ‘right’. Who cares if there are errors, I make them all the time. But it would be a colourless world without them. Gotta love the little old ladies, haven’t you! I’ll be the same in a few years

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I look forward to taking over the role of crazy village nutter! The old girls in Camapagne are our favourite people by far…
        And the French really don’t mind mistakes if you try, so many English over there DON’T

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh this did make me smile! My husband is a fluent French speaker and I had reasonable French when I arrived to live 2 and a bit years ago. Now I find myself disputing things with him and he is like a rutting Cerf! Bonne courage to your husband and he might like to take a look at Babbel and Comme une Francaise both of which I found really helpful 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll really look forward to that …. Geraldine Lepere who does comme une Francaise is very cute so make sure Baz doesn’t start disappearing down the garden again 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. We used Michel Thomas originally – although the lady we took French lessons from when we arrived in France haughtily announced that ‘he doesn’t speak French properly’. I found his course helpful though, especially when brushing up on my schoolgirl French but, once you get further down the road, you’ll probably want to try something else – especially if you have to write anything in French. However, whatever works and if your husband had little or no French to start with and is progressing then it is obviously working for him. Bonne chance!

    Liked by 1 person

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