I signed up for an excursion the Alliance Fran?ßaise is hosting this Saturday. It’s a guided tour of the roses out at the Arboretum – in French of course – and to be followed by a picnic. The website seems welcoming and the point does seem to be to provide an environment for people who aren’t French to speak French in, but I’m terrified. I mean, sure, I can speak French, I spoke nothing but French for two weeks earlier this month, I was happy. I can read Le Monde and even understand most announcements at train stations, but I make so many mistakes, and I can never remember le subjonctif, and they’ll all laugh at me and they’ll be annoyed that I came because my French is so far from perfect and I don’t know anyone there and I suppose if it’s terrible I can just sort of be quiet and go home early.
And if I don’t go I will regret it forever and my French won’t get any better. I’m going.
A landlord I had once was also the director of a language school, and talked my Italian housemates and I into hosting weekly dinners at which his students could practice. I didn’t speak a word of Italian, but over time I learned enough to ask to have things passed to me. While everyone else was busy conversing, I got the lion’s share of the authentic Italian food. Which fit nicely with my volunteer worker’s budget.
(Unrelated aside: the landlord’s father was a Nobel laureate, and said things like, “When you have a Nobel prize, too, you can have the last slice of cake.”)