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Before we came to live in the French-speaking part of Switzerland (Suisse Romande), I (Chris) already knew a little bit of French. This, I have to thank my mother who volunteered me to French classes at Alliance Française. That institution, whose mission is to spread the Gallic language and culture around the globe, were really focused on teaching conversational French.  It applied a total immersion approach that forbade the teacher and students to use another language during class.

My teacher was a Frenchman from Corsica (Corse) who taught French in French to a class who did not know any French. I was a teenager and found that approach fun. At that age, learning a new language was probably easier.

Institut des Sciences Clavologiques  =  The Institute of the Science of Nails. In Lyon.

Then while in secondary school in England, it was mandatory to study a second language (the choices were French or German). So I continued with French classes in preparation for a public examination (GCE Ordinary level). My teacher was a young English woman who taught us French in English. The focus was mostly on grammar, composition, reading comprehension and vocabulary, with very little conversation.

After the examination, I never had the need to use the language except the few times when I visited France. But now, it is real.

Soon after settling in Lausanne, I enrolled myself in a group class which met in the evening once a week.  But I was too busy and missed many classes. Although I work in a francophone environment, many of my colleagues prefer to use English, and a lot of Lausannoises speak English. The hardest part for me is listening comprehension.

So here I am, re-starting my classes, this time with a private tutor whom I will meet once a week on Saturday morning.

Saw this notice at the Museum of Beaux Art in Lyon, it says:

“In the exhibition hall of the museum, every one can look, telephone, discuss, observe, eat, share, discover, laugh, run, be marveled, smoke, hate, breathe, shout, rest, dream, reflect, touch, ask oneself, be delighted, photograph with flash, imagine, be outraged, drink, stroll, take one’s time, be moved, …etc.”


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