Learning French

I had wanted to learn French for ages. To finally understand the “Grand Nation” in all its nuances, to be able participate, to read Victor Hugo and Maupassant in original. But it seems that fate begrudges me this.

The first serious attempt was when the SBB tendered a large project 15 years ago. For the success of the project it was necessary to speak French. I agreed with my then boss that if I win the project, I would be allowed to do an intensive course in French until the start of the project and the company would pay for it.

The presentations took place in Bern. I took the train and it happened what rarely happens in Switzerland. The train was 20 minutes late. I was hardly ever as calm as back then. If I had gone by car and had come late, I would have been disqualified already. But this way I could apologise myself with the words “Dear Sirs, I am sorry but your train was late”.

Unfortunately I did not win the project and consequently the intensive course did not happen. Then I enrolled for a French course for beginners with two lessons per week. I was the only one who did not know any French. Most of my colleagues had already learned French at school for several years or had even lived in France. The teacher organized the lessons accordingly. I was the weakest and slowest student in the class, the only one who had never before learnt any French. And it went on like this – subject numbers: One, two, three, …, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, thirty, one hundred. “Any questions? Once again for Michaela and then let’s move on!!”

During the lessons I was frustrated and demotivated. I was struggling with the pronunciation, with the speed. But I did not intend to give up and at home I really applied myself to studying. Until after three months of studying I had to go for a project in Lausanne for three weeks. When I returned to class it was a shock how much the class had moved on with the material. They had done two sections per lesson. I was lost and did not really manage to catch up until the end of the semester. Then I gave up because I won further projects abroad and physical presence during lessons in Zurich seemed impossible.

My next try was an individual course in Lyon. One teacher should take care only of me, explain grammar to me and help me get my pronunciation under control. The suitcase was packed, I had delegated all my mandates and anticipation could be felt physically. I was one night away from my dream. On my last working I was on my way to a client, the road was empty, speed was low and then coming from the right a car crashed the back of my Audi with about 50 km/h. The car was damaged but I was unhurt. I just felt strangely sick, could not stand light and concentrated working was not possible. The doctor immediately signed me off sick and my long-awaited French intensive course was cancelled.

But I don’t give up so easily. The next try is scheduled for next summer. Vive la France!! I’m coming!

One thought on “Learning French

  1. Hi Michaela, nice to read this. It looks appear the “elements” are against you everytime you tend to learn French, maybe it is a sign ?!
    I am convinced you will succeed the day this first gates will be by-passed.
    All the bests,


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