niveau cinq, here we are

1. i’ve vaguely planned to skip class one night. but i find myself heading there from work, by inertia – even this thursday, when i was running late (one of the cooks had an accident, it was a slightly hectic afternoon even for a thursday, people running around like headless chicken) i got out of the forum after 5.30, and…where was i gonna go? i had obvious answers, less obvious ones, i had a bit of a pressure to write at the back of my mind…could have walked in the park, or got a sorbet/coffee in a cafe and tried to write…but then i went to the metro stop. oblivious. book in hand.

2. things i do/have done during class: writing cards. reading the newspaper/book. rereading a draft. looking up words in the dictionary. drinking coffee – i can’t go through 4 hours without coffee. i can’t go through a thick 4hour wall of ANYTHING without a coffee probably. but mostly, when i come to think of it, in all honesty, i primarily do this: speak french with people. do exercises in french. i think the goals are being met. i’ve been a member of the school system for so long, it’s with relief that i plunge into the slavery – there’s this class to go to. things will add up in time. i’m going.

3. and yes, i am the best in my class, at least technically. one explanation for this might be that i asked to be placed one level below? maybe but who cares. as long as i don’t score 100% on grammar and dictation for this level, and especially speaking-wise, as long as there are people in my class more fluent and more at ease with the language than me, even with erreurs – i am in the right place. of course i have to be aware of, and try to get amusedly detached from, my competitive obsession. it’s… never come in useful, except for massaging my ego for 2,5 seconds and then immediately awakening me to shame. nobody cares that you can spell almost correctly, carmen.

4. on niveau 5 we still have textbooks, and my classmates mostly know eachother already because some have been together through levels 1-4. so it’s a classic ‘new kid in class’ scenario. except they’re not kids. and this is not school-school. it’s the, honestly, hard school of living, etc. people come to classes from work. people work making shoes, making blinds for windows, cooking, making wrappings for presents, driving moving vans. people yell at each other in spanish over desks. people complain, ask and answer basic questions, are kind to each other, help you change your banknote, keep you a spot in the coffee line. offer you popcorn. save handouts for you. i’ve never felt unwelcome or uneasy here – i’ve felt at points overwhelmingly sad.

5. before april ’10, i hadn’t felt an immigrant in canada. go figure, i actually, legally, am not : i’m an immigrant wannabe, at most. but the wannabe part is important.

6. my french school is not everything i’d wanted, not what i’d dreamed. the first two days i was choked with fury against the anglos…for being so blatantly absent. componence of my class: 90% hispanic. one russian girl. one neo-zeelander who came here to be with her quebecois boyfriend. (after one month of classes, and walking home with her because we live close, i’ve still NEVER heard this girl, caro, speak english. in this sense, maybe my french school IS  what i’d dreamed.) somebody suggested that maybe francization is only for non-canadians, but it can’t be true, because my friend sonia z. took these classes 4?5? ys ago. it’s that they can’t be bothered. honestly.

7. we speak french at breaks. and after classes. if i met one of them in the street, hell if i met one of them in calgary, we’d speak french. it’s like swimming and then realizing if you tried to touch the ground now you’d drown. the conversational things i found out about these people, i got them through our mutually imperfect french. some of them don’t even have the english as a possible crutch. THAT is brave. working as a dishwasher when you have a whole load of degrees is not brave. i repeat myself.

8. so, no love and gushing passion, but maybe i am past that age after all. i respect my francization course, admire how it’s helping people, like and admire and respect my classmates, and try to work with it in my way. boring, i know. my prof said in about one year , if i get the pesky equivalences solved, i could teach french in a centre like this. they need teachers – and i can understand why.

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