While I get intimidated quite often, there are very few things in life that terrify me. Heights would be one . . . being stuck in an elevator is another. And since being in France, I have a third: talking on the phone.
For the past four months I have been dreading the day that I receive a phone call that requires me to speak in French. It's not that I didn't think I could respond . . . it's that I can't see the other person. There is such a physical element to communication: facial expressions, body language, lip reading (maybe that last one should have been bolded, italicized, and in all caps, comme ça: LIP READING). I have really come rely on these elements to understand not only the words being said, but the context of that which is being discussed. This is impossible on the phone.
Just before New Year's I had my first Skype "chat" in French . . . we started off in English but once my friend gave me time to warm up, it was all in French. C'est très difficile!!! It took so long for me to read and understand, especially with the pace at which things were being typed and vocabulary and tenses being used that I didn't know yet. It made for a very tricky conversation that required a few stops for clarification. It was hard enough trying to converse over instant-messanger when I could see all the words in front of me . . . but the thought of actually SPEAKING . . . TERRIFYING!
So anyway, back to the purpose of this post (Short-Story-Long Girl strikes again!). I just got off the phone with my language helper, C-L. She phoned to see if I would be free tonight to meet, but I already have dinner plans for the time she is free. Tomorrow is no good for her, and Friday we're having a pot-luck dinner for all the students (and families) at the school (to give people a chance to get to know one another . . . ah, community building!). But we're going to meet on Friday anyway, before the dinner.
I know you don't care what I'm actually doing with C-L, the point was that whole conversation above (ON THE PHONE) plus greetings/etc (ON THE PHONE) was en français!! (ON THE PHONE!!) That means, I held an ENTIRE conversation IN FRENCH, ON THE PHONE. WOOO HOOO!!! VICTOIRE!!!! I still can't believe it. I haven't gone to the trouble of memorizing my number yet because, in all honesty, it's nice to be able to appologize and tell people that I don't know it and offer my email address instead (which gives me the opportunity to look up words I don't know and think about my response . . . little room for miscommunication). But, first time was a success. That wasn't so bad . . . maybe I will go to the top of the Tour Eiffel . . . woah, Deb. let's not get ahead of ourselves!!