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my french story | mon histoire française

bronwen norris

Photo: Bronwen Norris

Photo: Bronwen Norris

Growing up in Brisbane I never imagined I’d have a connection to France. So when I learned French in Year 8 it wasn’t something I took seriously as I never thought I would use the language. But the classes must have sparked something in me to be awakened at a later time. As a 20-something I took some French classes at TAFE and then enrolled at the Alliance française for a term, still not too sure why as I was saving for a house and the cost of travel to Europe was beyond me. 

And then having achieved my goals of a house and some career success I had time to think about what I wanted to do and Europe became a magnet. It still took me some time to convince my husband, Gray, that he would like holidaying in Europe and that he could spare that much time away from work but finally we took our first UK/Europe holiday in 2000. Gray was immediately taken by France and decided that life was for living. Since that time we have visited France most years and even managed to buy a small village house as our home away from home. 

Over the next few years I enrolled in French courses a few times but my French never seemed to progress beyond the basics. I was always nervous and it really felt like school all over again. Then I stumbled upon Lingua Franca and found their approach suited me, and my lifestyle, so much better. I’ve done various courses with them and this year I’m tackling the Diplôme d'Etudes en Langue Française (DELF B1) with a group of three others. 

The reason I love learning French is two-fold. Firstly, I grew up in 70s Queensland so amongst my cohort the fact I have a second language is a bit different and I like the fact that in the end living in such a remote country didn’t mean I had to be mono-lingual. Secondly, we’ve now had the place in France for 12 years and I just get such a kick out of seeing the looks on my French neighbours’ faces each time I return and the positive comments they make about my progress, particularly recently.

Learning French has also benefitted me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. For example I couldn’t have conceived that the mining company I was working for would acquire a French-speaking company and need people to ensure that all communications were correctly produced in both English and French. While my French wasn’t at a level at the time to do the actual translation work, I was able to help the software developers distinguish between a field into which one enters data and a field where cows chew their cuds. Handy indeed!