To attempt the DALF C1 test, you must be able to write 500 words, coherently and on a certain subject, all in French. Since this is a difficult skill to gain I write a little on the side and my host mom corrects my work. Here's is my latest attempt.
On the left is my original essay, gone over with her corrections. On the right is a continuation of her corrections. Pretty sure she ended up writing more than me. What's more, she got her boyfriend to come in an approve her transcriptions. I think she is very proud of her work.
After the arduous corrections phase comes the translating phrase, where I attempt to decipher her handwriting.
This says "enfants" as in children.
This says "fille" as in girl.
This says "porte" as in wear or door.
European handwriting is very different from any other handwriting I've seen, and the lessons are standardized, for nearly all French people have a similar, sometimes identical, handwriting. European handwriting is full of odd quirks. There are some people who don't cross their t's (I once tried to correct someone's spelling, thinking he had put in an l instead of a t, but he insisted it was a t. Ok, sorry dude, for being gauche but where I come from a t has a horizontal line through it).
There are other people who only cross the right side of the t, which I find incredibly odd and random. Really? The right side? Just the right side? Why the right side? Why not the left side? Or better yet, both sides? Through? That's a t right?
As you noticed in the above example, my host mother does not really finish her p's. It's a line. Just a line. She wrote me a note once, explaining some change in the schedule and I could hardly make heads or tails of it because the p's were long l's. And it's completely normal. It's not even bad handwriting, it's just missing half of the letter, and a rather important half, I might had.
I had another teacher who wrote her f's as ridiculously long lines. Again, just a line. At this point a straight line could be an l, an i, a t, a p, or an f. So really, reading here is also a lesson in being psychic. You're supposed to know what they want to tell you, and that way you're able to read what they've written. It's a secret code. If it goes up a level they won't even need paper anymore, it'll all be brain-brain communication.
The next part of writing an essay is knowing which words to use. So today, I bought this:
It's a glorious Larousse illustrated dictionary, 2014 and did I say ILLUSTRATED? Because it is. And I got the limited edition that has that pretty pretty cover (not the other one with some French people and a random zoo photo). And it came in a box, so it will travel, safe and heavy, all the way back home.
This was my face when I saw it at the store.
So I bought without the least bit of hesitation.
And inside it's glorious covers:
The magic of words.
For me the hardest part is the French turn of phrase. It is quite different from English. When my host mom corrected my paper she pursed her lips, "This is not French," she said, shaking her head as if she had a bad taste in her mouth.
Directly translated from my French: "Also, the law has begun to make limits on ads. Now ads must include messages on health." (grammatically correct, I have to say in order to sooth my ego).
Her rendition says: "Also, the law asks that the ads give a good form of advice on nutrition."
Another example (me): "The biggest problem is the weak will. When one knows that one's weight is too much one becomes self-conscious and aware of what others think."
(Actual French person): "When one is conscious of extra weight, the look that one has for oneself and the look of others give to one affects us badly."
Like, what? How am I supposed to come up with that? Maybe I can slide by with a paper full of straight lines.
llllo ol lle lelsll ll llel lol olo lql lulu ulil eelie lelo lloalal lllallall lalllu lo lllol oloill lllo llo llo
Genius! Genius, I tell you! This girl speaks French better than the French! Give this girl an A and an eclair. She's earned it.