I signed up for weekly French conversation classes with Nathalie who runs them at a nearby cafe close to home.
A small group of us gather there every alternate week in person and also online through Zoom to chew the fat in French and get an informal lesson from her.
I found the group through Meetup when I was looking for in-person meetups that were nearby.
When the lockdowns started, obviously we couldn’t meet in person but I didn’t sign up to the online classes (as I was also doing Alliance Francais online). At the time, I was getting tired of being in front of my screen day in day out so I put Nathalie’s online classes on hold.
This year, as I take a three month break from the Alliance to use this time just to focus on conversations, I decided to register with Nathalie’s conversation classes again.
The structure of this informal gathering is that she emails out a topic every week with some links that we can explore. Of course, it’s up to us whether we want to do this or not.
We explore and research the material and then when we meet, we have a conversation about it.
Nice and simple.
This week, on Thursday, we will gather once again to chat about Hotel du Nord which was a 1938 film directed by Marcel Carne about two couples in Paris, one is a prostitute and her pimp, and the other couple, two young lovers who plot to kill themselves.
Now I haven’t seen the full movie and in all honesty, the clips on YouTube don’t have English sub-titles and let me say, I really need them – I simply can’t understand what they’re saying. Let’s just say, I watch snippets like it and I get worried.
Have I just spent so much time and money and not understanding a word they say? Eeek!
Anyway, that aside, reading through the history of the film, it is a film that is well known to French people who also quote the film – the quotes must be iconic to French people.
One of the best things about learning a new language is also learning with it, things about the culture, history, arts and so much more.
I have listened to more French radio and podcasts; watched more programmes, movies and shows on TV5 Monde, YouTube, SBS On Demand, Kanopy and Netflix – and I love it. My favourite French show which left me a little heart broken when it finished was Call My Agent on Netflix. It was superb.
Even though I haven’t had a chance to travel in the last couple of years, in some way, learning French and chatting with a large group of Francophiles as well as French natives in that time, has made me appreciate the language, country and culture.
I leave you with a bit of Hotel du Nord. Maybe one day soon, I will go and visit the real place which is now a restaurant in Paris.