My second week at the Institut de Touraine was great. Like I mentioned, this week is technically a vacation because there’s a national standardized test going on, but there were smaller oral courses for students who wanted to keep taking classes this week. My class this week was bigger and full of people who were more willing to make an effort than everyone in my class last week, so I feel like I learned a lot more. The class was almost like a conversation—we would have a new topic every few days with worksheets and activities to do, but most of the time we got very off track and just started discussing and debating various things.
This, of course, is exactly what I need to improve my French, since if I couldn’t articulate something I was actually unable to cheat and switch to English—my teacher couldn’t speak it at all. I’d simply have to find a better way to express myself. I had to do this with all kinds of topics, from describing popular stereotypes of various nationalities to defending my opinion on a controversial issue. Having to do this day after day made me sort of gradually forget I was doing it in a foreign language and just focus on the topic itself, which greatly helped. I think my proudest moment was when two people in my class were trying to argue against a certain article but confusing the rest of us, until I pointed out that they were arguing for the same point as the writer but taking her metaphor too literally.
We also had to do these phonetic labs where we’d usually be given an absolutely Herculean task like imitating a recording’s voice inflections down to the last syllable, fail at it for obvious reasons, then listen to the playback of our own voices and realize that despite our mistakes we sounded like native French-speakers with a completely French accent. It was really frustrating but interesting in a way.
This week I also explored Tours a little more. I visited the Musée des Beaux Arts; I’m not a huge fan of art museums, but I really loved all the art there inspired by Greek mythology. There was a ton of it—paintings and statues of so many different stories. I also visited the public library a few times and started reading Les Misérables in French. And last night I went to a concert where a bunch of different choirs from around Europe sang to compete for our votes. It was really beautiful, and I got to hear some other languages too. It’s been a pretty good week, and I’m excited to see what next week has in store.