Break out the baguettes, berets, and striped bateau-necks! It’s 2018!
Can you believe it’s already less than a month to Valentine’s Day? Still, is it just me, or have the grocery stores really gotten ahead of themselves?
Though, maybe they have a point. After all, this year, Valentine’s Day doubles as the first day of Lent. Why bother giving up anything in January, then?
Aside from taking a bit of a mainstream social media break, I rarely bother “giving up” anything at the start of the year anymore. In fact, in January, I tend to PILE THINGS ON. This week, on SSJ, I’m sharing two of my 2018 obsessions. First up, le français!
I really want to practice and improve my French this year, so that I can say, with confidence, that I am truly bilingual. To that end, I’ve started devoting more space and time to all things French.
First, I’ve been watching loads of French films and tv. My method has been to watch an episode or a 45-minute installment without any English subtitles. Then, I’ll go back and turn on the English subtitles to see how much I understood. I enjoyed Netflix’s crime drama La Mante (the Mantis) this way. Who knew I’d have so much fun watching a serial killer help the police catch her copy-cat, twice? I also went back and watched one of my favourite movies of all time, Claude Leloch’s Les Misérables (1995), which is neither Hugo’s Les Miserables (though, Belmondo’s character reads the book out loud) nor a musical (though, there IS singing), but a story of people affected by and surviving anti-semitism during World War II. Anyone who doesn’t cry during the “Cheek to Cheek” scene at the end of the movie (see also gif below) is a soulless creep. On cable, I’ve been watching cooking shows and NFL games with French commentary. Next up, I’m planning to screen some classic French cinema via the Toronto Public Library’s access to a large portion of the Criterion Collection. Since it looks like most of the English subtitles are hard-coded into these (anyone have a fix?), I think I’ll go for classics with which I am the least familiar.
I’ve also piled on the reading. Going back to a fairly intermediate level, I tackled Sagan’s short novel, Bonjour tristesse. Of course, my experience of reading the novel was super triste in that I realized how much my basic vocabulary has diminished over the years. As with my first few films and tv shows, I read the book in its entirety before I let myself check out the English translation from the library. I think this method will change with the next two books in the queue: I’ll take a chapter-by-chapter approach with my slimmer, “travelling book,” Baberry’s L’élégance du hérisson. (I’ve already borrowed a translation from the library). As for the 7-volume omnibus Tout Maigret on my bedside table? The plan is to take turns with my husband reading chapters aloud. OMG, let’s just hop into bed now, shall we?So far, the fun has been in the incredibly strange things I’ve imagined people saying to one another when, really, they’re just asking for another pat of butter or a quarter for the payphone…
Next up, of course, will be the harder part…conversation….It’s been a while, and I am super shy about it….Any ideas, folks?