In high school, I was good at it - I always understood everything and I always had one of the highest grades in the class (and this was with the harder teacher, not the teacher who didn't speak French). At UCI, my first French class wasn't easy, but I still managed to get an A. I took a short break, and even though my next class was the same level of difficulty and with the same teacher, there was a noticeable difference for me in my understanding of the language. I waited a year to take my last French class, which was probably a bad idea, but still got a B in that class, though I will definitely admit I didn't know what was going on for a lot of it.
They put me in the lower level review class here (totally acceptable by me), and it's stuff that I've learned from my very first course in high school, to things like the subjunctive tense, which I learned in my last class. My previous courses were also taught in French, by native French people, but......for some reason, this is so much harder. As I was telling my parents via Skype the other day, every time I go into class, I'm UNLEARNING what I already know. Ugh.
I am completely aware that a good French class should be taught in French. But.....if my two teachers are definitely aware that everyone is getting really bad grades on all of the homework, doesn't it possibly make just a little sense to explain the complex technicalities of the French language in English, even for just a minute? It's not that I think I'm incapable of re-learning these concepts -- I don't can't learn them IN French. You know how we're always taught (in life I mean, not in French classes specifically) that when giving a definition of a word, one shouldn't use that same word in the definition? I feel like it's the same thing for these review courses. If they care so much about us learning the technical stuff to prepare for our real classes, then maybe they should explain it so that we actually understand it. I'm pretty sure I only catch 1 out of every 10 of my teachers' words, anyway, but that's also because I just don't recognize the vocabularly they're using to explain things, and since looking up things that I don't know how to spell is stupid and takes too long, what's the point, right? Right.
...The French people that I've met here have told me that I'm better at speaking French than I think I am, which is a little comforting. But I know for a fact that what I can't do is UNDERSTAND spoken things. Also, I've definitely LOST any sort of an accent I picked up in even French 1 in high school. I don't even know how to ask questions in correct French. It's really bizarre. I feel like 4 months of classes might not be enough to learn the language because there has been such a mental block in my brain since my course in Spring 2008, which kind of sucks. Whatever. School is stupid anyway.
Also, I literally CANNOT IMAGINE being in classes taught in the French language, where the context is not about French (my real classes start February 1st). I'm not being modest -- I literally don't think I can handle that. This is actually something I'm worried about. Sitting in classes where everyone is speaking a language that you don't is boring, and as I've said before, understanding spoken French seems to be a bigger problem for me than most people here. I don't want this study abroad semester to be a waste (I ended up choosing France because I wanted to learn a language), but I feel like it's not going to be possible to learn as much as I had hoped, because of the small amount I understand at present, which definitely sucks.
But at least my birthday was reallly good! I'm glad that I get to say I turned 21 in EUROPE :)