https://www.duolingo.com/PixieAmanda

Language Power Struggles

I could use some input. I started working on Fridays at my sons bilingual French-English school. I am between a B1 and B2 speaker, and I know I make errors, but I have proven that I can understand mostly and be understood. Now, I understand some of the KIDS not wanting to talk to me (they dont understand that you kind of have to "dumb it down" a little for people like me) and I don't understand half of what they say, but the other teachers switch back and forth on me and it drives me MAD. They don't do it with each other. I have never struggled to interact really with the headmaster or headmistress or the secretary. I don't want to be blunt and demand them to speak only French, but it is really irritating.

September 23, 2018

17 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Camilla-danesa
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PixieAmanda, keep at it! I applaud you for using your french in real life! I can understand if people are trying to be helpful by switching to English sometimes, but it would be more helpful if they would speak only french with you. Since you started recently, they may not know your preference, and they may also not know how much french you speak.

You can do two things: 1) Practice and study french during the week to improve quickly, so it becomes clear to them that they can speak french all the time with you. 2) Talk to one or two of your colleagues who seem most approachable, and mention that you'd prefer to speak french as much as possible.

I find that it is very valuable to thank people every time they correct your french. Encourage them to keep correcting you and be thankful for their effort.

You may like to keep a little notebook with the things you learn during the day, or words you want to look up.

Why does it irritate you so much that they switch back and forth? Do you feel your french skills are being underestimated? Or not practiced enough? With practice and communication I think these will be resolved. As long as the issue is not that you are being left out, that would be a different issue.

I learned french with immersion, i worked in a place where I couldn't understand more than a few words at first. But a few months later, I spoke basic french, and after a few more months and some classes, I was fluent, and I could really do my job well, and I felt integrated in a way that hadn't felt that way in the beginning.

Best of luck to you! Bonne chance, et bonne continuation!

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/PixieAmanda

Headmaster/mistress have asked if they could use French before launching into whatever it is, but then on another thing later, they will ask in English. I'm hoping consistency fixes it. We all have lunch in French. I always greet them and ask questions/text/etc in French. My adorable but no-filter seven year old went to his teacher and said "Mom wants you to speak French, you know?" Now I have a parent teacher conference with her in French about his progress. Little scared! I do struggle sometimes when a convo gets really in depth. I haven't visibly struggled in front of these people yet, but it is my weakness for sure. There is one teacher there I call Evan Baxter because she makes me think of that scene on Bruce Almighty where Evan is shouting gibberish really fast.

I practice daily. With italki, Duo, Memrise, Babbel, Audiobooks, practicing with my son. Pretty much anything. Still stuck at that dastardly intermediate.

I feel like they are saying that my skills aren't good enough or that I am less of a part of the team. Plus, I took the job because I want the practice and I want to obtain a career one day that involves the language. So I want to use this on a resume.

I wish I could do full immersion. But I am hoping that this job, even though it is limited to Fridays, will help.

Merci beaucoup!

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Camilla-danesa
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you're on the right track! Sounds like you're on one of those pesky learning plateaus, I can assure you that will pass, and you'll notice progress again. And you're lucky you have a 7-year old who speaks up for you! :-)

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
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Hi Amanda,

how do you like the available French Duolingo stories: http://stories.duolingo.com?
Are they quite easy for your current B1-B2 level?
My Portuguese stories are still quite challenging for me (so many new words/phrases).

I wonder: Wouldn't it be better to first find online resources like HelloTalk, Hellolingo, Tandem, Speaky, ITalki to search for native French speakers and teachers who really want to interact with you in French and practice AND can prove you with a good teaching style concept?

Personally I would be a bit hesitant to try my language skills on everyone you meet.

They may be called "teachers", but this does not necessarily mean they are the right (open-minded) candidates for you to teach you speaking in a didactical way and improve those little things and errors if they simply have no interest to do the (time-consuming) analysis.

Video recordings might help you better for this part as you won't be stopped or interrupted for small corrections all the time...

I ask you: For how MANY doctors or investment "experts" do we have to run after until we maybe find those 1-2 persons who are really worth it so you don't waste your time?

but the other teachers switch back and forth on me and it drives me MAD.

What is the point asking or forcing them to use French when they maybe have no interest - if you have already followed the other advises in this thread - and they e.g simply do not want to ""dumb it down" a little?

If they are not actively "teaching" in class they may want to take a break outside of classroom and just do "fluent native-like conversation" with those people who they meet?

..(..)..

Anecdote

Jumping into (freezing cold) water with one hand and one foot tied up (=talking to "normal people" without the proper / trained fluent conversational skills) might not help you or may even hurt your own learning process.

You better make sure before that you can swim freely...and if you want to practice swimming, the water also should better be warmer and not freezing cold to create the right learning atmosphere ;)

..(...)..

Of course, this is just my opinion...I clearly would not have the nerves to talk to everyone in Portuguese in my spare time or at the company I work who is not interested or comitted (and skilled) in helping me to practice what I have learned so far.

So I would probably stick to English / my native language first and just ask a few meticulously selected / open-minded persons who I already know better if we could focus on e.g French conversations (no matter what level and how many errors).

Please let us know what solution you have found to improve this speaking process and how to communicate with your colleagues on first or second/third+ meetings!

Best regards / Viele Grüße

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/PixieAmanda

I actually really love the stories. They are fun, often silly. And it isn't super distracting if I don't know a word or a phrase. Which happens often of course.

I have been using ITalki and Tandem for over a year :) I hate HelloTalk because all I could find were horny guys wanting to flirt. Even when I was single that was annoying. Good thing I knew how to tell someone to buzz off in a less polite way.

I had first asked if they had a volunteer position because I just wanted to be in a more immersive environment. I made that clear. They offered me a paid position. So I am kind of at the point where if they felt my skills weren't good enough, they shouldn't have hired me when I put on my CV and resume (I gave them an English and a French copy) that speaking and hearing French was my goal. And they do it about two thirds of the time. That is why it is frustrating. If it was just a matter of they didn't want to be bothered by me, fine. And they never correct little mistakes when we speak French. Only bigger ones. Which is rare.

I will definitely keep you updated. I have been here a few weeks already though, just FYI.

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/prky
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Cher PixieAmanda, Very interesting situation, and discussion. I would not take it personally if teachers are switching back and forth English to French on you...perhaps they are trying to convey information or converse with you, and have a limited amount of time to tell you something or ask you a question before moving onto the next class (I am married to a teacher..they are often pressed for time between classes!) Perhaps there's a staff member you trust that you can spend a bit more time with? An hour of conversation after class during the week, or on a weekend - on a regular basis - will do wonders for your confidence (it does for me...). One can only go so far with online resources. Hearing yourself talking to other people who can help you understand is the real key to gaining confidence and moving beyond your plateau. Bonne chance !

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Seattle_scott
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C’est très difficile quand vous faites un effort comme ça est les gens autour de vous ne veulent pas vous aider. Mais dans le contre-sens c’est aussi difficile dans les situations quotidiennes comme ça de ralentir et choisir vos mots pour quelqu’un qui n’est pas capable de communiquer librement sans aide.

Il faudra du temps, et il faudra aussi persister, même si c’est frustrant. Au début il faut beaucoup de patience sur votre part et de la part des autres autour de vous aussi. Et il y aura des moments où ils voudraient tout simplement communiquer une idée, et ils n’auront ni le temps, ni la patience de de vous aider, malgré vos efforts.

C’est comme grimper une grande montagne, on le fais pas à pas, peu à peu, et il y aura des moments où il faudra prendre du repos quand le voyage et si dure que ça vous coupe le souffle.

September 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/JasRay
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Have you asked them to speak French only with you?

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/PixieAmanda

Not explicitly, no. Because I don't know how to not come off rude. But even when they say something in English, I reply in French. And when they ask if they can speak French or if I prefer it, I always say yes.

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Camilla-danesa
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You can say: "If I were to ask you to speak only french to me, would you be willing to do it?"

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Camilla-danesa
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(subjunctive is your friend!)

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/PixieAmanda

Subjuntive is the tense from the seventh layer of Hell!

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Camilla-danesa
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now, now, why would you say that? ;-)

Subjunctive is a great way to say something without coming across as abrasive! Gotta learn to love it! — actually, gotta learn to love any crazy thing that happens to be part of the language one is studying – because that makes it easier to learn it!

September 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Laykilibre
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Il me semble que vous faites déjà la chose la plus importante, c’est à dire que vous leur répondez toujours en français. C’est ça qui va signaler que vous voulez bien continuer à améliorer votre niveau de compétence, et c’est aussi la seule chose qui soit sous votre contrôle. Et je suis sûre qu’ils le feront de moins en moins au fil du temps. Bonne continuation!

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Carmen807459
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Good for you. I chose not to volunteer at my child's school because my French isn't good enough. One day, I'll feel a bit more confident.

I'd say to just give it time. Eventually, you'll form bonds with the other staff and students, and they'll give you more opportunities to communicate in French. Congrats on the job!

September 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Angellore-Raven
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Just ask them to speak french with you. They probably speak english because they think it would be more convenient for you. If you tell them you are learning french and want to practice, they will be happy to do it and speak their mother tongue (if they are french) :)

September 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AndesSky
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I imagine.... putting myself in your shoes I would wear a badge that says (in French) "Please talk with me in French. I'd like to improve my French :-) " I would make it light hearted and point to the badge with a big grin. It would save me verbalising it repeatedly.

September 25, 2018
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