enough is enough

So after a hard day of French class and language lab, what do two French students do when they get home? Well, speak more French, of course.

It’s been a big advantage that both of us can speak to each other while we’re at home. It probably doubles the amount of time I spend actually speaking French each day. The drawback, though, is that sometimes enough is enough. My language consultant made it a point to tell me that one or two hours after class was sufficient. If I worked any harder, he said, my brain would explode. Ok, he used words like “inefficient” and “overuse” but you get the idea.

Alex didn’t.

And so we invented a game. It’s one in which we take a short break after class, then we only speak French for an hour. Then we take another break followed by our final hour of French for the day. Since she wasn’t sticking to the rules, I implemented a new one – every time she accidentally broke into French during our designated English time, we delayed French time by five minutes. On Friday I got out of a solid 15 minutes of French because she couldn’t stop herself from saying “merci” or “avez-vous les cles?” or “ou est Abbey?”

As tough as it is to come home and speak French, I’m glad we have the opportunity. It’s been invaluable. Of course the fact that sometimes we can’t help but to speak French is also a sign of just how intense this program can be, and how important taking a break can be.

After all, the last thing we want around here is for any brains to explode. I mean, to be inefficient with our studies.

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3 Responses to enough is enough

  1. Acacia says:

    Courage!

  2. Bridget says:

    I think it’s totally amazing that you keep speaking French, for however long, after class. There’s no way my husband would be down with that. 🙂

  3. Daniela says:

    Oh, it’s terrific that you guys can practice together. I am not a professional language teacher but as someone who learned English in a very intense program (7 hours a day, 6 days a week for year + more thereafter) I am not sure I completely agree with the advice you were given. It’s true that you can overdo it. Your head won’t explode but it may get overwhelmed and stop processing temporarily (which may in extreme cases lead to crying, banging your head against a wall and other not very desirable behaviors). I do not, however, think that casual conversations between the two of you after class would cause that. What’s more likely to cause it stressful situations during class when you are truly expected to respond and get it right as well as tests and preparing for them.

    When the two of you are speaking French after class, the atmosphere is a lot more casual and if you don’t get things right 100% of the time it’s OK. It’s a wonderful way to complement the structured (more stressful) studying that happens during class and review and apply things while they are still fresh in your heads. Our brains learn better when we are relaxed than when we are under duress.

    So, if you are both enjoying speaking French to each other after class, go for it. If one or both of you feel it’s too much, then limit it to whatever amount of time feels fun.

    Best of luck!

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