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On Learning French

November 16, 2014

I have thought quite a bit about this whole thing, about learning a new language.  It’s very strange.  I will be going down the street, hear some kids speak in French (because, duh), and think – well, if those kids can do it, so can I!  Then, of course, I realize that this is silly…most people can speak a language just fine.  Actually, many people speak more than one language.  So what is the big deal?

Fast forward a few minutes or hours and I am sitting in class, and I am staring at a white board filled with the rules of French prepositions, articles, conjugations and I think…nope.  Not I.  I’m not discouraged, but I do think I will not speak well and I certainly won’t be able to pull the information I need to make a fantastic French sentence when I need to.

Fast forward to another situation, and I am listening to something in French and I am giddy with excitement…I understood!  I understood the gist…I understood the sentences…I understood WHY the person used that particular article or conjugation!!  I did it!

And then I circle back…again and again…yes I can, no I won’t…I know I will do fine…I just don’t know how well I will do.

And then there’s Levi – who is an external processor (read: he talks A LOT).

“Mom, I need to spend more time talking to my French friends [at school] so that I can learn French so that when we get to Congo I will be able to talk to my Congo friends in French.”

The point exactly, buddy.  Thanks for the reminder.  Because I need a reminder on most Sunday nights, after I finish my weekly take-home exam that I’ve kind of crammed for and see the gaps where I need to study.

It’s not about a grade, it’s about doing well so that we can communicate in Congo.  It’s not about making sure I used imparfait instead of passé composé when I need to, but rather so that I can understand what someone is saying while they speak to me.

So, pray for us as we continue to learn these new verb tenses (fun fact: there are 15 tenses and two participles), vocabulary, and articles (OOOHHHHH the French and their ARTICLES).

Our first exams are in two weeks – these exams are a week-long extravaganza of various methods of testing in order to decide if we are ready to move to a new level.  It will be stressful, but we can be reminded of the purpose of our language learning is greater than that one week of exams…and really, if those kids can do it, so can I, right?!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Tim Rice permalink
    November 18, 2014 0829

    Again. another great post.

    Dr. Tim and Kathy Rice

    Our website: Our Facebook page is

    To support this work you can send your tax deductible contributions through New City Fellowship of St. Louis. You can make your check out to New City Fellowship and in the memo line be sure to put Rice-Congo. Mailing address: 1142 Hodiamont Avenue St Louis, MO 63112 For more information contact Lisa St. Pierre:, 314-726-2302 x229.

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