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Bonjour, je m'appelle Maria

I recently enrolled in the local community college to take a language class. I wanted to continue my Italian studies and having completed two years of Italian in 1999, I was looking into taking Italian at the 300 designation: Advanced Italian or Italian Composition and Conversation.

The community college - a two year institution - did not offer any classes beyond the intermediate or 200 level. I looked at the Department of Languages at the state university (ASU) and found the class I wanted to enroll in but tuition and fees for a 4 credit class were quite high. I was very disappointed because I was looking forward to further my Italian studies, and with no trip on the horizon in this academic year, I wanted to engage in some productive mental activity to give my brain a good workout.

I spent most of August researching all my options for a language course. After looking at all my options, I finally decided to enroll in Beginners French class. Why French, you ask? Well, I took one year of French in high school and college but never used it, so I lost most of it. I know a few courtesy phrases, have a very basic vocabulary and can understand some French in the written form but I can’t carry a conversation or understand a French speaker. On our trip to Morocco last year I realized how little French I knew.

Tonight is my first class. I’m ready, with a new binder, sharp pencils (with plenty of eraser!) and first day of school jitters. Maybe I should have a glass of French wine before heading to class. Or maybe not. I hope to come back from my first class as excited as I was when I attended that first Italian class ten years ago.

To mark this new language adventure of mine and to tie this post to my Italian obsession, here’s one of my favorite French singers, Charles Aznavour singing the beautiful song Com'è triste Venezia.

A bientôt!

Comments (17)

Bonjour - ca va? :)

Good for you! I think it sounds exciting. Too bad they didn't have an advanced Italian class but I bet French will be fun. Good luck!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Maria, your class sounds like a lot of fun! And I thought that was a very cool song and video. Sounds like you are very prepared and ready for tonight.

Enjoy your first class tonight!

Bonne chance! I think that means good luck.

I took a year of French in 8th grade. Switched to Spanish in HS. I can read a few words (only because they are close to Italian and before I studied Italian, Spanish (which I now have completely forgotten) but the pronunciation is so difficult in French.

I think it is great that you are taking a French class! I wish I had the time and energy to take a language class right now.

Beautiful song! I expected it to be in French :)

I hope you enjoyed your first class tonight. I loved the video of Venice. My sister and I are planning a trip there next May, we were there 3 yrs ago for just 3 days, and just had to go back!! I really loved Charles Aznavour, I used to love listening to him.

Me again, wanted to tell you that I made the Saffron Fregola last night...yum! What a great recipe. I have leftovers for lunch today too.

Thank you all for your comments and words of encouragement in this new adventure. I'm happy to report that the first day of class went fine. The teacher is a very enthusiastic young native speaker of Lebanese heritage. There is good mix of students of different age groups and ethnicity, so I anticipate that the class will be very interesting and rewarding.

My only worry so far is that homework is submitted online and there’s also lab work to be done online. I'm not used to this and I much prefer the "old" way of using paper and pencil but I’m sure I will get used to it. But, there’s an additional learning curve to think about.

Hey Annie, I also made the saffron fregola yesterday! We must have been in the same cooking wavelength. ;)

We both loved the toasted flavor and nutty taste. There’s not much leftover but I’m already thinking of making it with clams in tomato sauce. I found a good recipe and will give this one a try tomorrow.

There’s an interesting article on fregola in the SF Chronicle with great-sounding recipes.



Bonne chance avec votre classe, et amusez-vous, Maria! I'm sure you'll enjoy all of the overlap between French and Italian.

And you may grow to enjoy the online lab work -- there are some great tools that allow you to check answers immediately, and hear correct pronounciations (I seem to be constantly in French classes where we do a lot of work online.)

If you watch Radio-Canada TV news online, it might be a helpful tool. A lot of the news stories are about the U.S., and I find it helps comprehension when I have a basic understanding of what the story is about!

A bientôt!

Maria, I hope you had a great first class! I've always loved the French language. A friend of mine taught me couple words andn phrase, but that's about it.

I think it is great you are taking this class!

Super! I hope you enjoy French. I love French but still struggle. I really regret that I did not study languages more while I was younger.

Thanks for the link. Good article (and interesting that it seems to have only been introduced in the US about five years ago).

I noticed that several of the recipes say to cook the fregola for 10-15 minutes. The bag I bought says 5-6 minutes, which makes me think that there must be different sizes. It's great stuff!

And I'm glad to hear that the class was fun. I wouldn't be that enthused about online lessons but I went to college in the days before laptops so I'm old school and behind the times, for sure!

Sandra, thanks for the tip on Radio-Canada. I’ve been searching online and bookmarking resources. This news outlet is just what I was looking for; it is perfect for practicing my reading comprehension. Merci! :)

My textbook titled Espaces came with audio and video CDs which will also help with comprehension and pronunciation. The overlap with Italian and French will probably make learning easy and difficult, just like when I was learning Italian. Imagine a native Spanish speaker learning Italian using a textbook geared for the English speaking student. I’m sure I got most of my gray hair during those two years.

Candi, thanks! First day of class was a lot of fun and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to learn a new language.

Marta, I remember when a few years ago you took language lessons in France. It must have been pretty cool to be immersed in all things French.

Annie, the fregola I bought had a cooking time of 14-17 minutes and I think that’s how long it took but I had to add a bit more liquid. How long did yours take? 5-6 minutes seem kind of short cooking time for dry pasta. I also think that the size and cooking time may vary by brand.

Last night I made it with clams and shrimps and it was so good that Ivan and I cleaned up our plates! The dish was moist and just a little bit soupy, somewhere between a pasta al sugo and risotto. It was truly delicious! It is indeed great stuff; thank you for introducing me to this tasty pasta!

If you’re old school, then I’m from the older-than-old school. I went to college in the early ‘70s and there wasn’t a single computer on campus for student use. We had language labs but it was to practice our listening skills and not for pronunciation practice.

When I took my Italian class ten years ago we still had to do all the work the old way, submitting homework in hard copy and each day we each had to read out loud to practice our pronunciation. I’ll be a challenge but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it.

It only took 6 minutes to cook mine when I made the fregola taboulli. It was al dente and perfect for that salad. I didn't cook it as long as it called for in the Saffron Fregola because I tasted it and it was done. I must have tiny fregola!

The clams and shrimp sounds wonderful. I need to go and buy another bag.

Have a great weekend!

Barb Cabot:

I think French is such a beautiful language. I've always wanted to learn it. I too have taken 2 years of italian and know and appreciate the dedication it takes to study languages. Good luck. It should be very rewarding. Keep us posted.


Ah tres bien, Maria!! You go girl!! I am always thinking about taking a language course, but (as I am wont to do), I keep putting it off! I took French through to university, but after 25 years, have forgotten most of it. Je parle un tres petite peux only these days! :)

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