Dom: Hi Virginia. You’ve been attending my French classes at the Modern Language School for 3 years now and have proved a very able and friendly learner. What got you started; what prompted you to sign up for French classes?
Virginia: Thank you, Dom. I really do enjoy the classes and feel as though I am benefitting hugely from them. When I joined the class, my aim was to improve my French as I love France and think it is important to try to speak the language when I am there. I have tried in the past to learn on my own via books and CDs and found that I just didn’t ‘put the time in.’ Joining a class means I am committed to learning and speaking every week and the group environment provides the opportunity to learn from fellow class members as well as the teacher. Not only has my French improved, but class work has given me more confidence – which is priceless.
Dom: When you enrolled for the course, did you have expectations, niggles and worries? About your teacher and the school? About the other learners, the language or yourself?
Virginia: Yes I did. I joined at the Intermediate Plus level and was quite anxious beforehand. Had I enrolled at too high a level? Was the group well established and how would I feel as the ‘new girl’? What about speaking French in front of the others? Would I enjoy it? After all, no one was making me do this. You reassured me beforehand and within a very short time at the first class, I knew it was for me – the right blend of conversation, grammar and written work. Overall, it is stretching yet fun. And just the right amount of ‘homework’! Thanks to you – and my classmates – for ensuring that the combination is perfect.
Dom: That’s a great, positive feedback, Virginia, thanks. You are also one of the co-writers of the book Dining on Words, which I very much enjoyed; and I’d like to thank you very much for giving me a copy. What does it feel like to write a poem or a short story?
Virginia: I am glad you liked Dining on Words. When I write a poem or a short story, I feel as though I have created something. I am not good at crafts, I can’t knit or make things and I admire those who do. So writing, for me, is the equivalent of ‘making’ something, which I can enjoy just on my own or, by showing my work to others, can share it. And producing Dining on Words with others was like learning French with others, rather than just on my own. I was much more productive, I improved my writing and editing skills – and it was good fun, too.
Dom: Do you think your attraction to the English language played a role in your attraction to the French language?
Virginia: That’s an interesting question. Yes, I suppose it did. I have always enjoyed exploring the English language and I try to express myself well. And the French language is beautiful, so it is natural for me to want to speak it well – not to just ‘get by’. I have even attempted to write some poetry in French – not very successfully. But maybe that’s a challenge for the future! I certainly feel that it is within my grasp.
Dom: Many thanks for your time, Virginia. I’ll see you next Friday.