So How is the French Going?

It is now the middle of Week 6, so it’s time for a recap.

I’ve intentionally made this blog much more about my experiences in Morocco than exactly about my experiences here learning French, but that’s because language progress is slow. Plus, as riveting as it might be on my end to practice my conjugations and learn new grammar, I thought it probably wouldn’t make for a riveting read.

I’m just joking. This was just a good gif for the post, you know?

But I do want to recount how my language skills are growing here. When I first came to Morocco, my French was definitely worse. I stuttered more, and it took longer for me to be able to say what I wanted. My French is still not perfect, but after five weeks it’s become easier to speak, listen, and understand French both when it’s spoken and when I read it. I’ve also finally felt like French has become less of a barrier to my understanding and more of just another way of achieving it. I hope that makes sense. It’s also been really nice to hear my progress echoed back from those around me. I’ve really cherished moments where people say that I don’t have an accent, or where people haven’t spoken to me for a couple weeks and they can tell I’ve improved.

At the very least I definitely feel more confident in my French. It’s more a part of me now, and I don’t want to let go of it. It’s become as much mine as anyone else’s. It doesn’t matter that it’s a language I didn’t grow up with. It’s a language I’m choosing to live with, and weave into my life. That’s what matters.  I also feel more ownership of my progress. I’ve technically been learning French words since I was really little. I’ve been trying to learn with games and things since I was maybe in the second grade. But now, after two years of intensive grammar study at Northwestern, I’ve moved to regarding the language as a tool rather than a bauble. I learned more at school than I’d realized. I even feel like a stronger writer because of French. It’s a more formal language. Every word is specific and precise. That sort of necessary utility has been reverberating into my blog posts, because I can workshop here, in a new context, what I have been using and learning everyday.

One final thing before I move on to a small recap:

The truly important thing about learning a language is that you get to decide for yourself how big you want your world to be. English covers a wide range. That is my privilege. But French has allowed me to explore other contexts in a way that just isn’t possible if I’d only ever studied English. I get to even learn more about English as I study French, because I learn weird English grammar rules that don’t exist in French. I also get to hear others’ opinions about the language I’ve been speaking my whole life. I get to know where my language stands in terms of difficulty to learn, in what contexts that holds true, and why. You don’t need to learn a language just cause. But even if you learn a language and it’s just something that you and a friend speak when you get to be together, it’s another layer of closeness and amusement that isn’t always possible in our day to day. For each day I am here in Morocco where there is a moment that I speak French, I get to turn an imaginary dial and see my life in another light.  That’s the true wonder and amazement of learning another language. It’s a chance to escape the humdrum.

That last paragraph is for all the kids who made fun of me choosing to learn French growing up, or who said that learning another language was pointless.

Finally, to recap a little:  I went to the desert last week, and honestly I didn’t enjoy it. I mainly wanted to go into the desert to see the stars. When I got there, it was after two days of hard traveling in a bus. It was beautiful, but the moon was nearly full, and so bright that everything else in the night sky was blotted out. Then, it got cloudy.

It was just not my time to be wowed by stars.

We also rode into the desert on camels, which is not that fun because you get sore after 2 hours of riding. Then you wake up at 5 in the morning to leave the desert, after staying up until midnight.

I really didn’t enjoy it, and I wouldn’t even necessarily recommend it to anyone unless they were sure they could see a night sky full of stars. I don’t regret the experience. I’m glad I did it, but I’m not going to do it again anytime soon.

Negative things aside, I did find the desert beautiful. I am also really happy to be back in Rabat, back near the ocean and a temperate climate. I recommenced my classes this week, and am going to Tangiers this weekend. I’m going to get led around by a student in Tangiers, but I’ll get to plan the itinerary!

Wish me luck.