Back to School

Since Canada is officially a bilingual country, a great deal of effort and expense has been put into ensuring that as many federal government employees as possible are bilingual. There is a particular emphasis on bilingualism here in eastern Ontario, in New Brunswick and in Montreal, Quebec – not only for government employees, but for anyone who wants a job anywhere that they are likely to have to deal with other human beings.

Most people living in these areas either grow up with two languages, go through school in French or English immersion programs, or learn the language later on in life at their own expense.

For federal government employees there are various opportunities to learn the second language at the employer’s expense and time. There several types of part-time courses you can take as part of your regular, annual learning plans or there is full-time French language training.

Unless you’re a senior manager/executive, it’s very difficult to get full-time French language training, for obvious reasons. Usually one of the only ways a regular employee can get French language training is to win a competition for a bilingual non-imperative position. Bilingual “non-imperative” means the position will be bilingual in two years, so basically, the person who won the position has two years to become bilingual or they lose that position.

However, I guess there is a large enough pool of federal employees who are already bilingual because about 10 years ago the public service more or less cancelled the “non-imperative” option for new positions, except in rare circumstances. This means that anyone not bilingual will have a very difficult time getting a government job and those who already have a government job will find it impossible to advance in their career if they’re not bilingual.

Once in a blue moon, however, the stars align and a department runs a competition looking for bilingual candidates and doesn’t find enough who are suitable. Then, after a lot of business case writing and justifying and pleading, they are allowed to run a “non-imperative” competition. I was lucky enough to win one of these non-imperative positions last year.

After a bunch of bizarre assessment tests, they determined that it would take me 30 weeks (7 months) to become bilingual to an acceptable government level. Now, eleven months later, they’ve given me a date to start my French language training. So, this fall, I go back to school.

Every day. Five days a week. Eight hours a day.  For seven months. To learn nothing but French. No vacations allowed.

I’m excited for the opportunity. I’m excited for the change. I’m really excited to become competent in French.

From others who’ve done the full-time language training, I understand it will be grueling; that you have to eat, sleep, breath and poop nothing but French if you want to pass the exams; that you have to take your exhausted brain home at the end of the day and do a few hours of homework every night and read French magazines, newspapers and books and watch nothing but French TV. I’ve never yet heard anyone say they had a great time.

I think it’s the grammar. I’ve done some French courses part-time and of course did French back in elementary and secondary school, so I have some idea of what to expect. French grammar is insane. Masculine, feminine, regular, indicative, subjonctif, imperative, conditionnel, imparfait, passé compose, future anterieur, infinitive, participle, words that have 12 letters, of which only the first 2 are pronounced, a lot of shrugging and pursing of lips… I may have to start smoking fat, smelly cigarettes, etc., etc.

Ah me. Can my ossified old brain handle all this? I don’t know. I hope so. I did offer to go to France for 6 months instead, promising to come back fully bilingual, but they wouldn’t go for it. Merde!

I definitely will have to immerse myself completely into this thing, though. And I’m pretty sure that’s going to mean I won’t have the time or the brain space to blog with any regularity – unless it’s to conjugate some French verbs and that would be kind of boring, I think. So, I probably won’t be around the blogosphere much. I probably won’t be doing much of anything, ever again, until next summer…… except maybe drinking… I might feel the need to do more of that…but only French wine or Cognac or Calvados or other French stuff.

We’ll see.

79 responses to “Back to School

  1. Some very insightful words XUP. Immersion is the key, you need to fully dive in below your head and don’t come up for some “English”. Most people become too unselfconscious and then become ashamed of their skill. Even if people laugh at you they will always respect you (well at least in my case…honest!)

    Here are a list of mistakes people make:
    1: they never use the new language once they “pass”.
    2. they refuse to talk to anyone in French “no time, hard to get the point across…etc.
    3. they never write in French (Pourquoi eh?)
    4. they don’t take on a French lover (why you looking at me like that?!)

    The old saying goes use it or lose it, which really applies to a language. I know born francophones that have lost their mother tongues. Nearly happened to me before I married a french Canadian teacher.

  2. Love the pink boots. 🙂

    Wow, that is a fantastic opportunity XUP. I have heard from a few people that the course is brutal, but they all come out uber French smartiepants. You’ll do great.

    I sure hope you will still be able to blog. I would really miss you. Don’t you think that school full of adults will make for GREAT writing material?

  3. With the drinking you have to take up smoking non-filtered Galloises just to keep with the image. Anyway, kudos to you. I took French through 2nd year university and when I was in France in 2006 I realized in short order that I remember SFA of what I had studied. Of course here in BC it’s problematic. Our francophone count is paltry. I believe it was 9 last time I checked, so you don’t have much chance to use it. That is 9 as opposed to the 2,897,453 Cantonese speakers. Bummer for those doing what you are. May it go like a dream and at least learn enough so that you can order in a sidewalk cafe and not be greated with an expression that seemed to indicate I’d made a smutty comment about the waiter’s mother.

  4. Congratulations. You should of course go buy yourself a french computer now too so you can type all those strange accent marks etc.
    Have fun and remember even if you don’t pass it’s 7 months out of the regular office. How can that be anything except a win?

  5. Brett – Ya, except it’s going to be a while until I know enough French. I’ll be spending most of my time memorizing verb conjugations and like I said, that wouldn’t make for very good material.

    Maurice – I like the idea of a French lover. Please let me know if you know of any likely prospects.

    MM – Ya, there probably will be some great ranting material. Having the time or energy to write it up? Remains to be seen.

    Mrwriteon – I hope I’m retired before I have to learn Cantonese. That sounds really difficult. Or Arabic – a whole new alphabet and everything. Okay, now I feel fortunate that it’s only French I have to cram into my head.

    Dave1949 – I don’t think French people believe in computers – too foreign and Anglo. But I think you can make all those strange marks with a regular keyboard and ALT codes. Those computer guys thought of everything. As for the 7 months out of the office thing — there is the frying pan/fire principle to take into consideration.

  6. Immersion is definitely the way to go to learn French – or, as Maurice noted above, taking a French lover is also an excellent method. I started French in Grade 8 (that’s how it was in the 70s)and kept up with it all through high school and university. I truly became bilingual when I took an immersion course in France for a month one summer, though. It was really tough to live completely in French, and I think I cried every night for my first two weeks, I was so exhausted. But I still do remember when the French really clicked in my head, when I had a screaming fight with some drunk Frenchman who accosted me as I was returning to my room. I could get spitting mad in French, I realized. I could do this French thing! And then I came home and eventually got a job teaching French Immersion, so I have used my French every single working day since then. French is part of who I am now, and I happily switch from one language to the other without blinking an eye.

    End of my story.

    Oh – bonne chance, mon amie. Travaille fort et nous pourrons nous écrire en français bientôt!

  7. You might have to get a Blackberry or iPhone thingy so you can send your off-the-cuff rants (posts) on your way home.
    But, congratulations on your new hell. Bonne chance.

  8. I was thrown into the whole idea of learning french from escentially my first day in elementary school. Then I moved to BC for 3 years and promptly forgot just about everything I knew–which was a lot; I was almost bilingual before the move. But, because it’s virtually useless out there (only one I knew who spoke french even remotely was my nextdoor neighbour, and even he only did it once or twice that I know of), they weren’t teaching it and I didn’t have much opportunity to keep up with it. Now I’m off and on contemplating getting back into that, if for no other reason than it looks insanely good on a resume. I won’t have a government employer paying for it, but hey, if I lose my mind and actually find a way to get there, I’ll hopefully have a government employer willing to pay me. Good luck with it in any case, Xup. Let us know how it goes!

  9. good for you! i will certainly miss your posts, i’ve definitely grown to love them! if you write them in french i can practice my french skills!!!??? i suck at french, my english ain’t so great either.

    GOOD LUCK !!!

  10. Well good luck. You’ll need it. I did an immersion course for just one month and it really improved my French. Don’t get to use it as much as I thought I would.

  11. Pinklea – Thanks. I know the only way to succeed in this is to be as immersed as possible – not just during those 8 hours in the classroom. I did French in school since grade 5 and was doing really well, but I foolishly dropped it after grade 10. As I said I did a few part-time courses over the last few years, but it’s almost impossible to learn a language that way. It was enough to keep some basics reasonably fresh so that they reckoned it wouldn’t take me too long to become bilingual. Seven months is relatively short compared to what others have been assessed at. Once I know what I’m doing, I’ll write you and my other French-speaking bloggy friends something en Français.

    Violetsky – You know I’m doing this for us, don’t you? To hell with career advancement. I want to be able to order exotic things in the Provencal village café and make sure the pool boy knows what his duties are. And I CAN send rants and emails and access FB and all sorts of other good stuff on my new magic android phone!

    Mike – I know. Sounds perfect, eh? Except for the part where my underused brain will be screaming for mercy at the end of each day. Hopefully things will click in like Pinklea said, after a few weeks and it won’t be so grueling.

    James – I think if you’re going to be living in Ottawa long-term and are hoping for a good job, you pretty much need French. Personally, I think the best way to learn it is to move somewhere very Francophone and just live in the language. That’s how we learn language as children. It’s so much more natural to become accustomed to the cadence of the language, then the words and nuances, get your brain functioning in French and THEN learn the grammar. This learning the grammar first method is bizarre to me, but that’s the way they seem to teach it.

    Jay – Thanks. Who knows, I may desperately need to express myself in English regularly after all. Time will tell.

    Betsy Mae – Thanks Betsy. Practicing your French through my possible French posts is going to be a blind-leading-the-blind scenario!!

    Dr. Monkey – Die? Really? Holy catfish!! We’ll always have Facebook….

    Linda – Even in Provence? Is everyone English-speaking these days? I sure could have used more French when I was in Paris. Everyone was very kind and spoke English when I was struggling, but I would have loved asking a lot more questions of the locals and having some discussions

  12. As a unilingual anglophone who has been trying to find a job in this city for quite awhile now, I say this is a fantastic opportunity and I’m very happy for you.

    But as a faithful friend and reader, I’d hate to see your blog sacrificed on the altar of bilingualism.

    Maybe go down to three posts a week? In Franglish?

  13. Yes, I do know. And believe you me, I am so very, very grateful. I will pick up the lingo by the osmosis method when we get there. Because, I agree, learning the grammar before the nuances of the language does sound wrong headed. People can make themselves understood quite well with incorrect syntax.

  14. What a great oppportunity for you. You must have shown a strong aptitude for languages because seven months is really quick to become bilingual.
    May I echo the others that I would really miss your blog and I hope you can still find time to write, even if not as frequently? I’m up for reading it in French if need be. I give you a month before you can put together a coherent post in French.

    Also, two of my neighbours have just come off full-time French training, and they both loved it. Hope you do too, and best of luck!

  15. Zoom – There are apparently 12 binders/modules of material which I can let you photocopy if you want to learn French, too!! I don’t know that the blog needs to be sacrificed entirely, but from past experience I know this requires a pretty much 24/7 commitment. If I were 25 I could do it, write a blog post every day and party my face off every night and still ace the exam. But that was a long, long time ago.

    Violetsky – I’ll just step in when we need to talk about government stuff to someone from Quebec.

    LGS – Merci, seul écureuil gris!

    Finola – I’m hoping that because I already know another language, I’ll be able to pick it up French, too. I’m not to concerned about the vocabulary or even sentence structure. It’s just all the memorizing of grammar stuff that’s daunting. But it’s SO good to hear that there are people out there who actually loved it! THANK YOU. I just keep hearing all the bad reports. I have hope. I would really like to love it, too.

  16. Je manquerai lire votre blog. Bonne chance à l’école. 🙂

    I will miss reading your blog. Good luck at school, XUP. At least the next 7 months won’t include spring and summer. You’ll be free in April.

  17. french grammar sucks big fat monkey butt. and this comes from someone who grew up in english AND french. big fat monkey butt.

    a neighbour and friend did it two years ago. she said it was tough but she did come out of it with the levels she needed. CCC. she thought it was worth it.

    good luck to you. and you will be sorely missed in the blogosphere. hopefully you will grace us with your words every once in a while.

  18. May the Force be with you.

    XUP – it will all come down to your teachers and class composition. My 4 months of F/T French was an OK experience because we had a rockin’ group (6 of us) with great chemistry. And our profs were top-rate – they knew how to teach adults and understood that we had lives outside the classroom.

    Of course, you have to keep using it to maintain your levels. And THAT is the tough part, especially if you work in a primarily Anglo environment. I was a solid C-level 7 1/2 years ago after my course but am only a B now. And that is a drag because any comp. I enter at this point of my career is CBC imperative and I’ll need some further training to pass the levels again (unless you are so darned good that you are declared “exempt” from further testing, the classifications are good for only 5 years – if you don’t change positions).

    Anyhoo – the bus rides in the morning will be lacking. Who’s going to laugh at the leather jacket guy with me?

  19. Geewits – No, I won’t be able to learn French? No, I won’t have time to blog? No, you don’t think French verb conjugations are boring?

    Davina – Yes, it’s definitely nice not to have to do this over the summer like some people. And thanks. I hope I have time to check in once in a while at least.

    Smothermother – Thanks. I will do my best. How do you say “sucks big fat monkey butt” in French?

    Justin – Thanks and good for you. Do you use your French regularly?

    Pearl – Merci! And I shall.

    Sean – Really? I haven’t heard that too often. Thanks.

    Trashee – Ya, I’m not banking on that exempt. And you’re right – the right teacher and the right class will make all the difference. Fingers crossed. I’ll do my best to keep using the French although I know it’s going to be tough.

  20. Wait, you know another language? Which one?

    I’m trying to think of a language you would know which in comparison French grammar is difficult (i.e. most languages have gender and confusing conjugations like French, but many also use cases, which we don’t have in English or French)

    We could all use practise. I hope we’ll see more posts, in English and in French. Good luck!

    – RG>

  21. Magda – Thank you. I hope not to have to disappear completely, though…so you may not get much of a chance to miss me!

    Grouchy – German. But it’s my first language, so the grammar is innate, like English grammar is for you. You know what sounds right and you know how sentences are put together, because it’s your native language. THEN you go to school and learn the grammar and it’s not that difficult. I know German grammar is pretty complicated, too — since they have 3 genders, very complex compound words and long, odd sentence contructions — but it’s still easier than French grammar, I think. I understand even many French people don’t really understand French grammar. But hey – all sorts of government workers pass their language tests every day, so there’s no reason why I can’t come to grips with this too, right? Right?

  22. a few ideas:

    a photoblog – one photo should equal 1000 or so words in either official language – maybe a new photograph of sexy boots every day?

    franglais – from the comments you can see that quite a few of your readers (moi inclus) have some measure of bilingualism and can even comment in kind…

    bonne chance!

  23. One of the things that is manifestly unfair about the bilingual thing is that if you`re born francophone, it`s easy to learn English.

    Not easy in the sense that English is easier than French (I don`t believe it is), but easy in the sense that Canada, being a vast majority English country, presents ample opportunity to learn and use English. In fact, realistically, if you want to do business with the world outside of Quebec, you have to learn English because the business world works on English in Canada and globally.

    On the other hand, Canada presents no realistic opportunity to learn French. If you`re born anglo, you can go through your whole life and never meet a French person outside of Quebec who isn`t one of your government-mandated public school french teachers. I fall into that category.

    I think that the language requirements put on the public service are manifestly unfair – they exclude the majority of the country from taking a senior position, or require that they undergo a long period of expensive language training to satisfy an artificial need brought about by an unreasonable expectation from a minority group.

    Not that I am against speaking multiple languages. All educated people should speak another language. However, in my life, French has been a decidedly poor choice. Growing up, I had the opportunity to speak Italian, Japanese, or one of the Chinese languages every day. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to learn Italian because I was busy taking French. I didn’t meet a French person who wasn’t a French teacher until I joined the army, and even then not until after basic training.

    If you lived in Eastern Ontario or New Brunswick all your life, you wouldn’t have this experience. But if you lived from about 77 Longitude and points west or Nova Scotia or Newfoundland, but for some small settlements near Winnipeg and Niagara Falls, you’d have had the experience I am talking about.

    All that is, of course, ranting… I learned the French (the military sent people to live in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu and go to school back in the day). The problem is that I work in high tech, where almost nobody does the work in French anyway. I have no family to speak French to (ok, not true – I have lots of family, technically, to speak French to but I haven’t been in contact with them in decades). I have very few friends to speak French to. Really, the only people I can speak French to are my wife, and public servants… That’s not conducive to maintaining my rating.

    When I left the military in 1992, in what I consider to be an egregious insult, I was required to fill out a survey that examined discrimination against francophones in the military and government. Since I didn’t see any, I crossed out “francophone” and put “anglophone” in its place everywhere in the survey and filled it out. When asked for details I provided them – names, places, dates. They actually took the time to call me up, berate me, and tell me they were shredding it. I guess the military doesn’t deal with facts or truth much.

    Odds are, I will fail the French test for a civil service job I’m currently in the running for. Even though the bilingualism requirement is wholly arbitrary with no basis in the requirements of the work.

  24. No one uses the futur antérieur or the imparfait du subjonctif. Those tenses exist just to scare away English speakers.

    And there are going to be some good shows on TV this season – so you’ll be all good there!

    I hope you keep blogging now and then, otherwise those pretty pink boots will go to waste!

  25. Well I did offer to be your very own personal horizontal dictionary years ago but I think your reply was “I don’t need another child in the house!”
    Bonne chance ma cher.

  26. Don’t forget, if you work for the Feds, if you pass your “bilingual” test, that entitles you to a bonus.

    It used to be $800 a year, and that was a while back. It’s probably a bit more now.

    Shit. I’m bilingual. Wish my company would give me a bonus like that, too.

  27. Good luck XUP and I am in a similar boat! I will be applying for a bilingual position at some point in the near future and am scared out of my wits to face the big scary government tests!
    But I have been studying the grammar for awhile now, so hopefully some it will come back to me during the tests. 🙂

  28. We’re Americans we speak English and we expect everyone else who lives here to speak English and all the countries we visit to speak English…because we’re Americans and that is how we roll.

  29. Jen – I shall take your suggestions under advisement, but I’m a terrible photographer and at least half the people who visit this blog are not Canadian so they wouldn’t be too interested in a franglais blog. We’ll see how things develop though…

    Smothermother – Ummmm..thanks…I think…

    Geewits – Je suis désolé. Je ne veux pas de poste, mais je ne suis pas capable de faire beaucoup de choses en même temps.

    Squid – I grew up in Niagara and only ever encountered French-speaking people when I went to Welland. There’s a big population of Francophones there for some reason. But ya, I’ve never really needed French in my job and probably never will, but in 5 years I will have to go back to French training to upgrade my language skills prior to taking the test again in order to keep my job and then a few years after I’ll be retired. It’s a bizarre and very expensive system, that’s for sure, but for new recruits they’re doing their best to only hire bilingual candidates so they can cut down on the language training expenses in the future. They may not get the best qualified candidates – or even the second best maybe – but at least they’ll sort of be able to communicate in both official languages.

    Jazz – Why the hell do we have to memorize all that grammar nobody ever uses? There’s enough freakin’ grammar to memorize that is being used…gosh-darnnit all!

    Lebowski – I don’t remember you making such an offer, but that does sound like something I’d say in response.

    Friar – I don’t think it’s much more than $800 today. That’s about $3 per day – hardly worth getting too excited about.

    Pauline – The comprehension and written tests aren’t too bad – they’re all multiple choice. It’s the orals that knock everybody out of the running. You have to be able to discuss and describe a lot of governmentese and the person interviewing you doesn’t slow down because you’re new. Bonne chance to you, too!

    Cedar – Luckily most of the world is falling in line with that vision. Everyone is keen to learn English and speak English and get on a rusty boat and smuggle their way into an English-speaking country.

  30. @XUP
    Well…that’s $800 more than most other people get!

    That could pay for a nice weekend out, even after taxes. 🙂

  31. Friar, even outside the government, lots of employers see knowledge of a second language as a bonus, or even a requirement (esp. in the Capital region). So someone who’s bilingual could be offered a higher salary, or less likely to be passed over, or have more job opportunities available. Any of those is worth at least $800/year.

    – RG>

  32. Wow, what a great opportunity! I’m sure you’ll do really well. I find it easier to learn languages now than I did in high school. I think it is an interest and focus thing, plus I’m not learning a bunch of other stuff at the same time.

    Good luck & I hope you still find time to write!

  33. XUP

    I’m happy for you, from your own personal point of view. Here’s a chance to help advance your career, and learn a new language, and get paid for it, no less. It’s a no brainer…a win-win situation.

    But looking at it from someone on the outside trying to find work…(like I was 6 years ago), it’s very frustrating.

    There are lots of highly qualified people who are perfectly bilingual (myself included) who tried to apply to the govt, but couldn’t even get an interview to save their lives.

    As we all know, unless you know someone on the inside, it’s pretty much damned near impossible to break into the PSC.

    Meanwhile, here they are, spending huge ammounts of resources, to give their existing staff a “Time Out” from their regular duties, and train them in French.

    Yes, I know there are perfectly valid reasons and policies that explain why this is right, and why this is fair

    But from the outside taxpayer’s point of view, I just shake my head.

    Anyway, for me, it’s a moot point. Because I’ve long since stopped trying to apply there anyway.

  34. boo. sad that this will eat away at blogging time.
    will you still participate in bitches who blog breakfasts?
    i’m in one of those non-imperative positions….but the clock is ticking. i may be next….

  35. Wow. Better you than me! 🙂 I’ll stick to learning things that will actually help me in my career, not things that grease the Politically Correct Career skids.

    All the best on your big adventure.

  36. Friar – I don’t know that knowing someone on the inside is of any help to you whatsoever in the government. The union has the staffing process tied up in such knots that even people on the inside can’t get the jobs they’re qualified for. I was lucky enough to get into the feds when all it took was a spelling and typing test.

    Woodsy – I would never muss up such lovely boots by stepping on people! The very idea!!

    Kimberly – Yes. Focus is going to be the key. No distractions. French. French. French.

    Cedar – We have plenty of room in places no one wants to be. If they wanted to populate the north or the territories or the priaries, that would be swell. But they all want to be in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto or Ottawa.

    Meanie – Go get yourself on French now!! You’ll have to give up your family responsiblities for a few months of course… I’m surprised you’re not already bi-ling? And yes, there will always be time for breakfasts…if there ever are any…

    Susan – Thanks. This WILL help me in my career. In fact, not getting the French pretty much guarantees I stay exactly where I am forever.

  37. I know, I know… but my point is it *shouldn’t* help your career, if there was any fairness at all. It sticks in my craw big-time that a language that is spoken by a clear minority of the country (just over 30% of Canada speaks it, either as a first or second language) should be jammed down the rest of our throats. Will it help you do your actual job better? Will it make me a better programmer? I think not. But it’s a check on some PC checklist somewhere and we must kiss the proper asses to progress.

  38. I took three years of French in high school, and I wish I had continued with it. I’m hearing, however, that Quebec French is totally different. Is that true? I probably should take it up again, if I’m going to be marrying James and eventually moving up there.
    Anyway, good luck with it, and I’d be interested to hear how it goes.
    I don’t hardly comment much, but I read when you post, and you definitely give me some things to think about. I hope you can still blog some at least. If not, I understand. After all, I did the fulltime job/school thing last year, and it was pretty gruling.

  39. I’m in an English essential position, and we are encouraged to take the free French classes. Except, we have to make up the time. Sounds like a reasonable exchange, but I cant manage to do an extra 4 hours a week of overtime. I, too, learned French in immersion in Saskatchewan (Le Francais International), and it took me a lot further than I would have expected it to (I have the equivalent of a B level). But when I moved here, having never before been to Quebec or Ontario, I couldnt understand any of the Quebec francophones. That’s slowly gotten better over 8 years.

    Good luck with it Xup. We will miss you.

  40. How very awesome! (Trés awesome?!) I would love the opportunity to do that. I took French in high school and college and when we went to Paris a few years ago I was surprised at how much I remembered. I’d love to immerse myself in it. Here in the U.S. we’re so insistent that everyone speak English that we really do ourselves a disservice. I love the fact that everyone in Europe speaks at least two or three languages.

    My stepson works for the State Department and just spent a year learning Pashto because they’re sending him to Afghanistan. It was full immersion and it’s really the only way to do that. He’s pretty fluent. Even his daughter has picked up some of it.

  41. @ Jessica – my French colleagues often tease me because the French I speak is based on the very formal French I spoke (and was taught) in school. I start getting lost in conversations when slang and local words start being used.

    @XUP, I’m BBC, my position is CBC. My French evaluator said that I’m a good actress, because initially, when I was speaking with him, he thought I was a C in oral, then realized I was just putting fancy accents on English words and making them sound French. I almost had him fooled!

  42. XUP… that’s no fair to go and put up some sexy pink boots in your header and then trot off to school 🙂

    C’est dommage! (I didn’t look this up, so pardon the spelling.)

    Hope school is going well.

  43. Have fun XUP.

    Of course as an English-speaking Canadian taxpayer, I don’t approve of this expenditure. I don’t care if you can speak French or not. You’re never going to have to. There are plenty of Quebeckers who can keep that bilingualism thing going.

    I’d actually rather not pay for your useless French language education, but I guess I don’t have a choice. Have fun!

  44. I’m gonna miss you XUP- and I’ve just nominated you for a CWA- but I reckon you’ll be back. And why not post in french once you feel ready? I won;t be able to understand it- cool!

  45. Oh man. This is what I get for going on vacation – I miss all the big news. HOW EXCITING! I’d be happier for you if this didn’t ruin our plans to take over NYC and be sent to federal prison with Leah early next year. I mean, PRIORITIES!

    Fine, WHATEVER.

  46. XUP’s absence is a strong indication that she’s totally immersed in French immersion. This is a good thing. I wonder if she’s reading the French translation on food labels when she goes grocery shopping? 🙂

  47. Having grown up 50/50 between St. Catharines and Vancouver, I just never encountered any French people…

    perhaps because I never went to Welland or Maillardville.

    And here’s the worst thing of all about this bilingualism thing. If I try to speak French here in Ottawa, there’s better than even odds that the other person will respond in English anyway, even in Gatineau.

  48. Okay, now I understand why the last blog entry was Sept 4th. This is not like XUP! (But that certainly doesn’t explain the hot pink boots and lotso legs that appeared in your banner!).

    I would kill (okay, maybe not kill) to have the chance at 7 months of French intensive training. Grueling, yes. But what an opportunity! I’m sure you’ll do great.

    Bonne chance! 🙂

  49. What drives me crazy is the investment to bring you up to level is so great, and then you pretty much get abandoned and you lose most of it again within a year or so. I’m not even sure I could make the CCB I scrabbled my way into in 2006, and I’m so convinced I’ll never make the C level in oral that I’ve given up the idea that I’ll ever get a higher ranking position.

    This year, we decide whether my 8 year old goes core or immersion French. I’m definitely favouring the immersion route, although it concerns me that I’ll only be able to follow along about half of his education.

  50. Wow, how exciting! Immersion is the only way to go to learn a language, I think.

    You may or may not feel lucky the entire time you’re there learning a new language, because at least my brain does tend to lock up and go ‘errrr …!’ at some point learning something new and make me think I’m never going to Get It. But since this happens absolutely every time I’m learning something new, at least now I’m old enough to know that’s what it’s doing – and also that I get over that point and it starts working again.

    But wow, all that time, and it is paid, right? – to learn another language. That’s brilliant, and amazing that it’s possible when our world seems so skewed toward homogeneity. What a fun thing to get to go and do, I’d do a lot of handsprings if someone offered to pay me to learn French! Even if the process *was* grueling, which at points it is bound to seem to be.

    Post or don’t as you have the energy, but I’d love to hear what it’s like if you’ve got anything left at the end of your days/weeks/whenevers. And if you do post in French, I’ll find out how much of those 4 years of high school French I remember. HA!!

    Best of luck, you’ll do really well, I know you will.

  51. Blog in French!….It’d be great practice for readers, too…Don’t quit blogging, I’ll really miss the humor…Canada Dry is awesome….

  52. XUP I think you are totally lucky – it will be very difficult, but well worth it! Good luck to you!!!

  53. What a wonderful opportunity!!! I just started my FSL, but because I am not a Gov. employee I am just entitled to 3 hours/week… not too much … I know… it tooks me about one year 24/7 to learn English, so it is not too much what I can expect from French in so small dosis… but anyway, I would like to read some of your posts “en Français” or at least, some anecdotes or stories from your experiences at class…

    Best of the best for your new stage…

  54. Holy smokes! I turn my back for a few months and look what happens! You become French. I can’t believe what a cool opportunity this sounds like. Grueling but fantastic. Great good luck to you and I hope it is much more enjoyable than you think.

  55. Just had to write my written expression and reading comprehension tests at the PSC. Interesting experience.

    it’s been many years since I had to take a government French test (1987 would have been the last time, I guess). The process sure has changed.

  56. French is the Musical Rose of all Latin Languages.

    Love, Romance, Elegance, and Desire, to whom who speaks it will exhibit these properties.

    Quote: “but they wouldn’t go for it. Merde!”

    “Merde!” Never held any that smelled like roses though. 🙂

    Paul D

  57. After all three French tests, I ended up with a profile of CBB.

    Considering I was basically a complete unilingual anglophone prior to government French training back in the 80’s, I guess that’s OK.

    it will have to do, whether or not it’s OK because it’s not likely to change much in the near future.