Thursday, 22 December 2016

Conversations in the Staff Room

Remember those fake debates you were made to practice in school? The ones where you had no real opinion mostly because you were 14 and had never come across GM crops in your day to day life but also because you were more interested in whatever it was so-and-so had said the such-and-such at lunch. Now that I spend most of my time in a mostly French office I have reason to recall these lessons. It turns out that quite a lot of the time people like to have deep discussions at over their soup and sandwiches. The other day, we discussed how we should tackle the problems that the agricultural industry is facing. Recently it was about the French presidential elections. I don't tend to participate unless I feel strongly enough to summon up the courage to construct a sentence in French. However, it does mean that I am learning not just about the world, but new vocab as well. My degree taught me how to talk about complex historical or literary concepts. My internship is teaching me how to swear like a Parisian and different words for cigarettes. I'd say to anyone wanting to learn a language that you should go and work in that language. Studying it helps and gives you an idea of the history and ideologies of a place but the way to become a native-esque speaker is to speak to the people who live there about things that interest not only them but you as well. 
There was a weird Franglais that we spoke at ULIP. Weird, french words would drop in every now and again when we were speaking English. The reverse is true at work. Speaking French I have to drop occasionally British phrases in. Sometimes it is because I don't know the vocab and other times I simply can't translate "have a gander" into French! My language skills are improving so much. My fluency took a knock at the start of this year for obvious reasons so it has taken me time to build my confidence back up. There isn't much better way to do that than to sit and talk about your favourite cakes now is there?  

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