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It's almost as if I'm living in Paris.......


Well, actually, it doesn't feel all that much like I'm living in France. Alas. I still live in Ottawa, which is less than glamorous. But these days, instead of sitting in my office overlooking the Supreme Court of Canada, I'm trapped in a very small and somewhat grubby classroom in an office building studying French. Still, I can dream that when I step out at the end of the day, I might find myself in front of Paris's Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmartre.

Or at least la Tour Eiffel:


These days, it's just me and my French instructors -- there are three of them who rotate so no one (of them) gets too tired. I, on the other hand, have no one to rotate with. I'm studying French from 9-5, Monday to Friday, for the next four months (well, actually 3 months but don't tell my employer!)

I'm just now finishing the first week of intensive French training designed to lift me from the intermediate level -- which is considering bilingual but at a basic standard -- to an advanced level that will presumably render me fluent in French. Which would be great -- I'd love to be fluent in at least one of Canada's two official languages. (What a shame that Italian isn't considered an essential language here.)

But the one-on-one classes all day, every day, are a bit exhausting. Still, I shouldn't complain -- as my friend Jim very succinctly put it: "You're being paid to learn." And it's true. My bosses want me to spend from now through October working strictly on improving my French. Don't come into the office, they say -- your job is to become fluently bilingue.

It has made me realize how much time I do fritter away in the office, reading blogs and newspages, going for coffee with colleagues, and such. No time for that now!

This should be a productive summer -- at least until I leave for Italy in mid-September. I"ll have to finish my French studies after that!

Comments (15)

Remind Jim that a good employer recognizes the strength of well trained employees. Because of that they offer them professional development opportunities . . . and yes, they pay them to learn . . . it is what good employers do. They have an obligation to provide you with these opportunities! There, union rant over, move on, move on. *smile*

Wow, it sounds very intense. It's probably one of those things that isn't that easy to get through, but you'll be so very glad you did it when it's over. Good luck!

And I love those photos!


Well said, Jerry! It has been two years since I changed careers and left my unionized newsroom, and I still miss working with the Guild! (And in Jim's defence, he was and remains a strong Guild supporter.)

You make an excellent point -- a well-trained workforce benefits everyone: the workers, the employers and society generally. And it hurts everyone, and it hurts the economy, when short-sighted managers, obsessed with quarterly earnings' reports, fail to reinvest in their most valuable resource: the workforce.

There -- that's my union rant!

Annie, you're so right, I'll be very appreciative of this training -- when it's all over!!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I think that's really great too that your employer is providing this educational opportunity.

Great Paris photos!

Enjoy your productive summer and try not to day dream about your Italy trip while in class. :)


How fantastic. (Although it does sound exhausting too!) I've been thinking about taking French lessons myself. There's a push on for French language services within the NS provincial government (which is very big on all things Acadian these days) so there's a good chance I too could get paid to learn a new language.


Kathy, Anne -- you're both so right, it is a great opportunity (altho it DOES cut into my daydreamining-about-Italy time!)

Anne, I hope your employer gives you the opportunity to study French....it is a beautiful language. And as a bonus, I think it helps my Italian, too -- the two languages are very similar.

Brad'll Do It:

With your new-found facilite` francais, I wonder how difficult it will be to speak Italian, as your tendency will probably be to the French word. Perhaps the Italians speak French as much as English? Nah!

But with your brilliant mind, you'll probably not have a problem, n'est ce pas?


Alas, Brad -- if only I were brilliant, or even competent, with languages! Now, I have THREE to muddle up!! E difficile, or c'est difficile!!!

Actually, de temps en temps I've found Italians who speak French as their second language rather than English. So at least I can communicate to some extent! Still, I wish I were spending the summer studying Italian rather than working on my French.....

What a fantastic opportunity! I studied French long time ago and never used it so I lost it.

I've heard from a few Italians on the ST board that contrary to popular belief Italian is closer to French than to Spanish. I don't know if its true but I know that knowing Spanish can help with learning Italian and even understanding much of the language but when it comes to pronunciation a Spanish speaker falls in a big trap in regards to where to put the stress on any given word. Been there many times.

Good luck in your language lessons. Being bilingual is a beautiful thing!



Has your employer made any inclination towards sending you to Paris to learn the language while immersed in the language and its culture? LOL

Tell them that that is really the best way to learn any language. Live it and not only will you become fluent but truly proficient. What do you think?

BTW - are they teaching you 'Quebec French' or 'France French'? I imagine that Italian might be closer to 'France French'!

Happy Canada Day!


Wow, I think that's a fantastic opportunity. I wish I were barely competent in any other language.


Maria, Kim, it IS a fantastic opportunity. I get frustrated because I can't express myself the way I'd like, but hopefully that will motivate me to work harder.

Eden, the downside of living in a country that's officially bilingual is that my employer would send me to a small town in northern Quebec rather than Paris for total immersion! I've done that twice and am not sure I'm ready to do it again.....

Jerry, the language school uses an interesting mix of teachers so there's a mix of accents and influences. I think the majority are Canadians, from Quebec or Eastern Ontario. And we do have some interesting discussions about the different vocab used in Quebec versus France. (There could be a future blog topic here!)

But the similarities that I see between French and Italian grammer (particuarly with gender) and with many words, I think will stand whether it's Quebecois or continental French.

Wow, what an interesting post! That sounds really cool - although I can see the one on one instruction getting tiring after a while. I love learning languages and I wish I spoke better French. I sort of picked it back up last year and had fun in the class I took (my nickname was Madame La Presidente!) but I don't really see myself using it any time soon. Or maybe I should go to Canada for a quick visit?


Hmmmm, Madame La presidente, sound serious! Do come up to visit, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City -- you'll have lots of opportunities to use your French and brush up on your vocabulaire!

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