I started studying French to keep my old brain active and have a challenge. I learnt a little French at school, many years ago‚ and it seemed logical to build on that.
No one in my family speaks another language, so I feel very pleased with myself!
As a child, my father worked for Qantas and we travelled extensively, but never to Europe. I hated travelling and vowed and declared I would never travel overseas again. But, learning French has changed my mind completely and now I have travelled to France using my basic French to great effect. I have the most beautiful friends in the Pyrenees, I am applying for Irish citizenship and would love to live in France one day for a period to experience the culture, beauty and language, not to mention the food and wine! I don't recognise myself and learning French, especially at Lingua Franca with the best teachers, has been transformative.
The standout moment speaking French was in France and is twofold: I asked a woman with a pram getting on a train from Paris to Bordeaux if I could help her and she said she was ok, but appreciated my offer (she recognised I was Australian!) and then when I realised we were on the wrong train going to Versailles and I asked for directions, successfully.
I try and do a couple of hours each week at least, and now doing the DELF I study on Sunday morning with my fellow student. So that's on top of 2 hours of lessons in each semester. Thinking about it, I should be better than I am, so no reflection on my teachers!
Speaking French makes me feel good about myself, clever, and it lets me appreciate how clever people are who are multilingual.
And as a bonus, I have made a whole host of new and wonderful friends. Merci beaucoup!
Editor's note: Clinton may well have left the best part of his story out. A true romantic, he and his beautiful wife Cathie, married 30 years, renewed their vows in a tiny church just outside of Pau in south-west France last year. Une histoire qui touche le cœur...*
*A story that touches the heart.