Hello Goliath, I’m David

As I clutched a cup of bitter coffee and hopped from one foot to the other, I attempted to fight off the cold as I stood outside the Alliance Francaise on Tuesday.

That’s right, Readers.
I was facing my fearsomest of fears and signing up for French classes.

It mightn’t sound like that big of a deal, but for me it was terrifying.
You see, I studied French in school.
And while my first three years were pleasant enough, once I reached the Senior Cycle, I spent two whole years in hell.

Myself and The Bessie still claim that it was the torture ensured in this class that bound us together.

Foreign Languages are not my strong point.
If you have a flair for English (and then go on to study journalism in college), it’s tough to persuade your brain to regress and think like a simpleton in another language.
I sailed a long in all my other subjects, but languages….urgh!

My Irish teacher was nice to me.
She knew I worked hard and so she didn’t pull me up in front of the class, but my French teacher was another story.

She took pleasure in humiliating myself and The Bessie.
She was vindictive.
And I was a nervous, shy mouse-girl in school, who liked to remain invisible.

The woman was terrifying.
Tall and thin, flowing scarves, well-cut clothes, piercing glares, dangerously soft voice and clicking heels, so you could hear approaching the classroom in the manner of the wardens on The Green Mile.
She was a total Fracophile.
And she also only had time for the best students.
Myself and The Bessie had ended up in the highest French class (it still remains a mystery) and sat in the same room as girls who were all at least a year older than us, most of whom were super geniuses and had done French Exchanges during the previous year.
It was horrendous.

After a couple of months, Ms O’Kennedy singled out the few less impressive students (including ourselves) and made it her mission to get rid of us.
Three of them dropped down.
Myself and The Bessie struggled to hold on.
We endured the tonnes of homework we couldn’t understand.
We endured being always given the harder questions to answer in front of the class.
We endured the snide comments, the eye rolling, the smug grins of our classmates and the evil smile of the teacher as we got yet another question wrong.

Our one saviour was Our Good Friend Gillian, who was a French genius and used to help us out with our homework when she saw us falling to pieces.

Eventually, we made it through the two years and vowed never to speak the language or visit the country ever again.
It was so serious a vow that it took me a while to admit to her that The Boy was half-French (she’s still a little suspicious of him).
Eventually she gave me her blessing and I was allowed to fall in love with him and with Paris.

Anyway, I decided a few months ago that since I’d committed myself to The Boy for the long-term, I should make the effort to learn French properly (or at least master basic conversational skills) as a nice gesture to him.
So after weeks upon weeks of psyching myself up and changing my mind, I found myself outside the French Institute in Dublin City.

F-ing Hell.

I spent 25mins standing outside willing myself to go in.
THAT was how horrible those two years of persecution and belittling by an egotistical French-wannabe bitch were.
I was actually shaking at the thought of going in and speaking French to a French person.
(The Alliance has a strict policy of only speaking French).

When it got to the stage that my toes were threatening to fall off, I took a deep breath and practically ran into the building before I could change my mind for the millionth time.

The oral assessment actually went well.
I even managed to crack a few jokes, if mostly about be tomato-resembling face!
The examiner was nice and kept a straight face as I tripped through sentence after sentence of bad grammar.
The best bit was when she recommended me for one of the mid-level classes!
And considering how high the standard is, I was unbelievably chuffed!
My school teacher had convinced I was the worst person ever at French and here was an actual French person telling me I was pretty decent!

And so I start class on 7th February…



Filed under Daily Update.

24 responses to “Hello Goliath, I’m David

  1. L

    Their classes are soooo good, I did a course there about 3 years ago and the teachers are really helpful and nice. Not mean secondary school stylie!
    Bonne Chance!

  2. Congrats hun! That’s amazing and best of luck. I did German in school and I miss it now… You’ve inspired me to go look for some classes! xxx

  3. Congratulations, or, eh, Felicitations! I bet you’ll do really well. It’s weird how a bad teacher can colour a person’s love of a subject, isn’t it? French classes in my secondary school were a total joke because the teacher just did not care about the students. Imagine forty girls speaking french in a thick Kerry brogue… Brrr, still gives me nightmares.

  4. Bonne chance! Je souhaite que je parle du Français couramment

    I can only get by a little bit but I wish I knew more! You will have a great time. Try to stick it out longer than me anyway 🙂

  5. Jules

    aaaah félications! je tu souhaite beaucoup de bonne chance!

    that’s how much french I can remember since I went to French classes two years’ ago, just to please a french guy who in the end humiliated me (you’ll find out the story soon!) – now I fecken hate the french so I understand how you felt! 🙂 I left the class in April – 2 months after he humiliated me – but I still got the qualification as we did the exams in January (just before I found out, the fecker).

    And, at least you and the boy has some trust, you have a lot of gut just to go to the assessment! good luck! x

  6. I did French in college and had the same experience. Only when I was forced to work in Paris 2 years back did I actually realise I was pretty decent at the language!

  7. I really enjoyed reading this! And it brings back soo00 many memories. I’ve always hated English in school. So bad that I didn’t even want to participate in class – I used to do my Chemistry homework there 😛
    And I swore never to live in an English speaking country, nor to use this language in my life! But as always, the universe has another plan for you :))

  8. i feel your pain – i used to cry over my french homework, ah the memories 🙂
    go you with the alliance classes, i bet you’ll do great in tolerant environment!

  9. I had the same issue in school except it was in German, seriously scary teacher and the language is far too confusing, 16 words for “the” eeekkk , good luck with the classes and thanks for the advice about the Vanilla candle i must give it a go

  10. I was also atrocious at languages in school! Im attempting to learn Italian at the moment which is surprisingly fun!!

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  12. Aww… that’s a lovely story! Well, no, its horrible and cruel.. but such a nice ending! I’ve always thought one of the absolute nicest things anyone could ever do for their other half is to learn their language, if they have one. French isn’t too bad – I know a girl that learned Dutch for her boyfriend…!

  13. Eve

    YAY! Good for you! I’m sorry that you had such a bad experience though. That is the worst. I studied German in school and was horrified to learn that they do not offer it senior year. Thankfully I was quite good and I hope to take more classes at some point. I have a list of languages to learn, and French is definitely one of them!

  14. Ar God! Nightmare! I hated my French teacher too. She made me want to die. She didn’t even teach most of the time, just used to put a hilariously unappealing French film on called “Taxi”. At least, it might have been better if we weren’t always subjected to the same 50 minutes. Bore.

  15. Zoe

    Oh god almighty you have an oral test? I’d fail miserably. Congratulations to you though. i’d love to speak a foreign language. I’m thinking of taking up german once i’ve graduated.

  16. That’s such a fab thing to do! And I bet The Boy is so chuffed that you’re doing that for him: he’d better be! : ) All the best with the classes and do let us know how it goes.

    Kate x

  17. Mercredi

    Le français n’est vraiment pas une langue facile et ce même pour les français.
    j’avais vu dans tes blogs que ton petit ami avait de la famille en France mais je pensais qu’il était complètement français.

    J’ai appris l’anglais à l’école et ce n’était pas toujours facile. En France les gens ont peur de parler une autre langue je crois.

    Bon courage en tout cas et je peux répondre en français si tu as des questions 🙂

  18. I love the title of this post. So empowering! Don’t worry you’ll do fine! 🙂

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