Sunday, February 17, 2008

Random thoughts from Friday's class

  • The vowels with the different accent marks, like 'é', 'è', 'ê', and 'e', are still pretty much an undifferentiated mass for me. When they're pronounced in words individually, or in isolation, I can hear the differences, and I might even be able to imitate them. But when I'm trying to produce words and sentences with these different vowels, I don't think I'm paying any attention at all to the distinction. There's no time to process these distinctions, and since I don't know the words by sound yet as much as I have been learning to read and write them, there's a transliteration going on, 'remembering' orthographic practices as a way into speaking, a trans-modal exercise which feels like it's taking too much mental energy to worry about.
  • Relatedly, though, I think I'm starting to hear liaison in familiar words, short common combinations like "vous êtes," with the final "s" of "vous" pronounced as /z/. I remember when I first started and learned that the final "s" of this word, like others, is not pronounced when the word is said in isolation, I wanted to say something like /vu et/ instead of /vuzet/
  • It's really interesting in class to hear the French of others who are already Spanish speakers. There are so many crossovers between the two Romance languages. And it's interesting, that I've been assuming that when I hear Spanish words in class, that's because the person is a native speaker of Spanish. But it might just as easily be the case that they have learned or are learning Spanish as a foreign language and, in a pinch when they have to produce in front of the teacher and other students in a limited amount of time, they're just saying whatever comes out that means what it needs to mean without regard to what language it is. I've caught myself wanting to respond to the teacher and other students in Korean a few times. Does this mean that Korean for me hasn't really been internalized, that it's still hanging out in the 'foreign language box' in my mind?
  • It's been a little difficult to know how I should interact in class. I find myself wanting to speak up, to make jokes, to try things out in class quite a bit, but restrain myself because I don't see the others doing this so much. I'm aware of myself as an 'older' learner (!) in this class, and as a male too. I think there are only three other guys, and they don't seem to speak up that much either. This is the case as much in whole-class discussions as it is in small group interactions. And I realize that I better 'level up' on my fluency in pop culture stuff like Carebears and Family Guy, the stuff of the references made in the class. Having taught before (and teaching now) I can empathize quite a bit with the teacher, negotiating meaning, trying to encourage interaction in the classroom, and trying to catch up with all the cultural references that students do make when they speak she more of a 'mother' in the classroom for me, and more of a 'grandmother' for the other students?
  • Why does de + le = du? Why not "de" And all the other 'crazy' assimilations that happen with "aux" etc.

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