December 29, 2013, by Guest blog

Obviously you can never learn all the words…

Post written by Matt Watts.

So I’ve now moved on from the sunny climes of Spain and Madrid and have moved to Bressuire, France. Bressuire is a small town near the city of Poitiers in the east of France and I’m working here from October to April as an English Language Assistant through the British Council Run Programme.

There isn’t much to do in Bressuire itself and I’m a city boy so it has taken some getting used to! The town is really rather small and if I want to travel anywhere it’s a 1 hour 30 minute bus ride to Poitiers so I can get a train to somewhere! However, I am enjoying it, especially the job. The school is really nice and so are both the pupils and staff, although teaching them English is sometimes quite challenging – they aren’t used to my accent and think I speak really quickly!

Aside from the work and teaching English I’m also here to improve my French and my knowledge of French culture. However, this is proving challenging sometimes! People will sometimes automatically speak to me in English because they know I’m English or can tell from my accent that I’m not French and change to English (which is often a lot worse than my French!). It even happens when I’m with the Spanish assistant, whom I live with, and we walk into a shop speaking Spanish, the staff then speak to us in English! However, I do feel that my French is slowly improving, particularly my spoken French as I was lacking confidence with it at the start but will know always happily speak in French and not revert back to English! My Spanish is also improving as well since I’m living with the Spanish assistant, which is great!

I’d say that it is really my spoken language which is improving the most as I’m speaking the language more often than ever before and am also exposed to hearing it more often – on TV, the radio, just hearing conversations in French at the school. I’ve found that my grammar has generally been fine and the biggest problem I’ve had is a lack of vocabulary – there are just so many simple, daily words that I’d never used before in French or never even thought about it. Obviously you can never learn all the words in a language but I do feel that my vocabulary has become much richer since moving to France!

I know that for my final year at university my written French must also be of a good standard and that I need to be able to write in a formal tone and register. So, when I head back to France after the Christmas holidays one of my main aims will be to start practising this more formal French, by reading more and writing essays which I can get native speakers to check for me!

That’s all from me for now!

A bientôt! Hasta luego! Até logo! See you soon!

Posted in Language acquisition