In October 2018 I had the pleasure of spending a week “chez Pierre” with the aim of enhancing my French vocabulary and comprehension.
Based in a relaxed rural environment, it was a stimulating full immersion, which offered constant opportunities both to revisit past learning that had become a little rusty, as well as extend into new territory. Having to converse totally in French prompted the need to think outside the square when trying to find a word or phrase that would convey the general meaning, even if didn’t capture the full subtlety of the concept intended.
In our incidental conversations, as well as the more structured sessions, Pierre focussed on introducing me to alternative expressions and vocabulary that would broaden my repertoire, rather than falling back on the well-worn options I have used over years of learning and using French. He was very patient when, for example, I slipped back into my usual “absolument!” instead of “tout à fait!” – and while I didn’t manage to totally shake off such usages, they did definitely reduce over the week through his helpful prompting.
Pierre provided a creative range of activities during my stay to promote broader understanding and familiarity with more complex language. This included playing French Scrabble, teaching me the popular French card game Tarot, and nightly exposure to French films (with French subtitles).
Our everyday conversations allowed further exploration of French life and culture; and a couple of excursions added some historical insights, as well as tourist enjoyment. The delightful family dogs, Elouk & Joy, were also keen to take me exploring, so I was treated to several walks with them through the adjacent large orchards and woodland that were clearly their familiar territory – a lot of fun!
Last but not least, Pierre’s superb culinary skills were a brilliant bonus: meals sometimes reflected his Breton roots and all were interesting, beautifully presented and delicious (I still savour my introduction to the delights of potatoes cooked in duck fat!).
All in all, it was a productive and much enjoyed homestay immersion. Merci bien, Pierre!