22 October 2008

French and Chinese

It's very funny how things work out in the end.

I took French for the first time last semester. And then I studied it on my own throughout the summer and up until now. I knew for sure I had mastered and learned everything in 2nd semester French, but I needed to prove it so I could take the third semester. So, I took the French placement test, and 65 dollars later I neverously waited for my results. What if I didn't even place out of beginning French? What if this was a huge waste of time? Is it even possible to skip classes? I felt like out of place when I took the test with a bunch of freshman who had taken years of it at high school, after all, what was a senior doing taking a placement test? I got my results back... and I placed out of the first four semesters of French.


I didn't mean to do that.

I only wanted to skip one semester! Not three! It didn't seem plausible that I could possibly be ready for 5th semester upper division French, and I thought to myself that something must be wrong with this test, it was too easy and put me too far ahead! I decided to go talk to the French undergraduate advisor. He basically confirmed what I feared... that based on my test scores, i should enroll in 5th semester French. And if it was too hard, then to drop it and enroll in 4th semester. But that I definitely did not need to enroll in 3rd semester (which was my original plan.)

After that I went to speak to a professor who was teaching 4th semester, I trekked to his office and asked for his opinion. He said he couldn't really judge me yet, and that his only concern for me was writing since the placement test was entirely multiple choice. I mentioned I had penpals I wrote to, and he said if I sent him a writing sample he'd be able to judge better.

So, I sent off an email that contained as many grammar points as I could fit without interrupting the content of the message:


Je suis l'étudiante chinoise qui vous a rendu visite hier, lundi
après-midi. Je ne peux pas vous montre une lettre que j'ai écrite à ma
penpal parce que j'écris toutes mes lettres à la main. Donc, je vais
vous écrire une nouvelle lettre. Je sais qu'il y aura beaucoup
d'erreurs, mais j'espère qu'il est possible que vous puissiez
déterminer mon niveau plus précisément. La semestre dernière, j'ai
appris un peu de français et je l'ai aimé beaucoup parce que le
français a ouvert des portes et des fenêtres culturelles pour moi. Et
après la fin de cours, je continuais mes études français durant mes
vacances quand j'ai décidé que les langues étrangères étaient devenues
mon autre passion. Je pensais que mon passion était seulement les
arts, mais en ce moment j'ai deux passions dans la vie. (Peut-être
j'ai trois passions, parce que j'adore aussi les pâtisseries! Des
gâteaux, des macarons, des tartes - le style raffine du pâtissiers
français m'intéresse!) Je ne veux pas oublier tout ce que j'ai appris.
Je pourrais écrire plus, mais je ne pense pas vous voudriez lire un

Quel niveau est-ce que vous pensez que je devrais prendre?
Merci beaucoup d'avoir pris le temps de me parler.

A plus tard,

PS: Je dois admettre que je consulte le dictionnaire souvent quand j'ecris.
PPS: J'espère que vous passez une bonne journée!

And I received this reply:


J'ai lu avec intérêt votre lettre. Oui, il y a quelques petites erreurs, mais je pense qu'elle est suffisamment bonne pour vous permettre de vous inscrire dans le 320E pour le semestre prochain avec d'excellentes possibilités de réussite. N'ayez donc pas peur: vous êtes bien préparée pour votre entrée dans la "upper division!"


! I'm reassured more now that an actual professor believes I am ready for upper division. I still feel nervous over the fact that I'm skipping so much... but if a placement test and two people believe I am ready for 5th semester French, then ready I will be! And my favorite part about his letter is from the first sentence: avec intérêt. With interest. My letter was interesting to him! And that's just a reminder, as important as grammar and correctness is, content and idea is always more important. It gives your work heart and appeals to people to actually want to read what you want to say.

Now... Chinese!
I've taken one accelerated Chinese course, which covers two semesters of Chinese in one semester. And I am currently in the second level accelerated Chinese course, which also covers 2 semesters. So when I take Chinese next semester... i'll be taking 5th semester Chinese. Isn't that a funny coincidence?

I never ever thought I'd be taking 5th semester French and Chinese at the same time, during my last semester of college! It's going to be challenging but I am so excited to pursue these two passions of mine.

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