My French test is in less than a week.  Cue panic.


I am torn between my perfectionist desire to get a good grade and my understanding that it might, actually, be better for me if I didn’t get too good a grade.  And then there is the worry that I’m just going to fail miserably.  Des jours heureux.

Luckily, I was introduced to a wonderful little owl last week who I’ve been obsessively visiting to brush up on my passé composé.  I know I’m probably severely behind the times, but until it was mentioned by someone in the “Ready to Roll!” class (this was a full day of logistics training designed to help us figure out how to move 6,566 miles away without losing our minds) I took last week at FSI I had never heard of DuoLingo.  It’s a pretty amazing site that essentially teaches you a language through step-by-step translation lessons – from French to English and from English to French.  I’m now in what seems like a race against the clock to finish all the lessons before next Friday.

In reality the result of my French test means very little.  Whether I can say “bonjour” (correctly, incorrectly or at all) makes no difference to whether we are going to board a plane for Kinshasa about 9 months from now.  We are going to board that plane regardless.  But spouses have the opportunity to take language classes at FSI on a “space available basis” and I’m hoping that if my French is just a bit above the very beginner level (which my mother is probably thinking it better be given my 6 years at French school…) I might have more likelihood of getting into a class, rather than just spending even more time sitting in front of my computer in our apartment doing Rosetta Stone.

Languages at FSI are rated on a scale of 0 to 5.  With, as I understand it, zero being no working knowledge and 5 being sufficient knowledge to be able to hold a philosophical discussion with a bunch of PhDs in philosophy.  To give you an idea of a what a 5 means – I am pretty sure I would not get a 5 in English…at least not without a lot of studying and practicing (since I spend most of my time talking about Dora, princesses, Oliva, Umi Zoomi and the Property Brothers, not philosophy).

Most posts require one score in speaking and one score in reading.   So for most Chinese posts on the bid list the requirement was a 2/1 – a “2/5” speaking and a “1/5” in reading.  But French is a comparatively “easy” language to learn, so B has to get a 3/5 in both (as do all the people going to a Francophone country).  Again, I don’t have to get anything, but I’m pretty sure the success of our time in the DRC will be enhanced pretty significantly if I am able to converse with the locals and am not fully dependent on B, or someone else, to help me buy vegetables for dinner.

Either way, I’ve got about 5 days to cosy up to the little Owl and make my way through the program to the last “module” which is, appropriately, “Spiritual.”  I’m pretty sure I’ll be needing that one next week when I’m praying I do a good job…


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