Overcoming the Language Barrier

Before I came to Tahiti, I barely knew how to say 3 sentences in French.  I was not too worried about this because everyone was always saying that French was not really necessary here.  This caused me to not take my French courses at Simpson seriously enough because I did not expect to continue learning French after my time in Tahiti ended.  I regret my choices made at Simpson, but I feel like I have made up for my slacking here in Tahiti.

Beginning to study French at our language specific school was terrifying.  Our first class there, the professor introduced herself and explained some things in English, but five minutes later she was speaking French.  This was not the introductory class type of French speaking I had assumed it was going to be.  She talked to us like we knew the language fluently, and hardly ever stopped to explain anything in English.  I was very disheartened at first, but I stuck with it and put forth a good amount of effort.  Week after week I felt like I understood more and more, and with some extra work writing hundreds of words in my notebook, my vocabulary, pronunciation, and fluency improved tremendously.  After learning different tenses and a bunch more words, all I need to do now is practice more.

Practicing French here is difficult though.  Often times, once you say “Bonjour” to someone, they realize you are American by the way you sound or the way you look.  They immediately switch to English almost every time.  This makes it difficult to practice sometimes, but if you simply tell them you would like to practice French, they oblige.  Through speaking with people here in Tahiti, I learn new words and fix a lot of pronunciation issues I have.

French has become much more real after a few months here.  I find myself admiring the language and wanting to learn more of it.  I have now decided to pick up a French minor because the language is so fun, interesting, and challenging for me.  I am excited to show my professors how much I have learned, and I am ready to get back to Simpson’s French program!