Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Singapore Grand Prix

Saturday, September 27, 2008

SIngapore Grand Prix - Practice

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Some more pics from France

Walking the dogs in St Christophe

The Seine at Rouen

Rouen Town Centre

Inside Rouen Cathedral

Madame Durand's Restaurant

Gus the Cat

Dinner at Madame Durand's

French in Normandy

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Normandie Pics fromt the weekend

lunch at home


Deauville Beach

Something to do with newlyweds

French Language Courses

The whole experience of learning French in France for 3 months has been amazing, and absolutely worthwhile.

Firstly, it was the perfect antidote to hectic urban corporate life, and secondly, it was the fulfillment of something I have wanted to do for a long time. Being in a foreign land and having real time to enjoy being somewhere is very important to me now. Sure you can go visit a city for one day - and "do it" but its no where near as good, obviously.

Rouen is based in Northern France, 2hrs west of Paris in the region called Normandy. Its very much a tertiary city, surrounded by farmland.
The school, (French in Normandy.com) is located 20 mins walk from the old town centre, in a semi-commercial and lower socio-economic residential area.

Expectations of fluency - my expectations were quite high, given the amount of French I learnt in London. I had attended these classes on and off for a year, having done about 70 hrs in total. Previously I had taken evening lessons and saturday morning lessons.

These had consisted of 3hrs of classes a week. It was hard, mainly because of the large size of the class, the time between classes and the fact I was living in English language, with no French until the classes. Also with no one to practise with. Another problem is that being based in London, we always resorted to English as a backup in class. I quit these lessons though because of the above problem, I just wasnt getting anywhere.

One great thing about learning French in France is that you have to use French all the time, you are surrounded by it.

But, apart from being intimidated by it, its great fun!

I laugh when people ask if I am now fluent in French....in all honestly it would take another 6-24 months of classes and lots of effort to get anywhere close to fluency.

Your brain can only take in so much each day - and its one thing communicating in French, and another being fluent both spoken and written.

In class they like using the direct method of teaching, which means focusing on speaking and listening, rather than the traditional blackboard and textbook writing and vocab lists. The idea is that the most important thing is communicating...the grammar comes, the words come, slowly and slowly.

Many a time had I met students who had lots of theory, knew all the right answers in a classroom sense. But, they didnt have the confidence just to talk to other people! Its all about confidence and having a sense of humour and be happy with making lots of mistakes!

I have really enjoyed being a student again. Meeting new interesting mostly non-corporate people every week! The students came from all over the world, a great range of ages from 16-60 and the staff were mostly French. I have made lots of new friends!

I must take this opportunity to thank Tom & Eleri Maitland who have been most generous and kind to me, treating me their own son. THANKS GUYS - CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU AGAIN!
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