There's a little inside joke between Mr. French and me.
I would tell Mr. French something I'd read from the boy's school papers.
For example, "did you know that they have math after the lunch break?"
And, of course, he would say, "How do you know?"
And I reply in an exasperated tone, "I can read French, you know."
I can't really. But there are so many cognates that with a little context you can often figure out about half of it. That also probably means I am getting half of it wrong too, but it works for me.
The other great thing is that a lot of what we buy is shipped from other European countries. So there might be ingredients and descriptions in 10 different languages on the back of the box. (just look for GB-Great Britain) Then Mr. French can be impressed by my French reading ability, for about 2 minutes, until I take it too far.
"It also says it contains gluten."
"What is gluten in French again?" he asks suspiciously.
Then, when that got old, we turned it around. He'll hand me a bill or something and say, "Look at this."
I'll pick it up and look and then throw it down in surprise and disgust. "It's all in French!"
We like to pretend we're surprised everything here is in French.
"It was a good talk, except it was all in French."
"That's looks interesting. It's probably all in French though."
Me: "Were there any announcements at school?"
Mr. F: "Yeah. But they were all in French."
Another thing that surprises me, I guess because I feel like I must look different to everyone, since I don't speak French, but I get stopped all the time for directions. I sometimes have to wait a few seconds while they keep talking, until I can shake my head and say, "Sorry, I don't speak French." One woman, who had stopped me, started laughing and said, "And I'm German!"
Mr. French thinks I should learn how to say that in French, but I think that would be confusing.
-"Je suis désolé, mais je ne parle pas français."
And they're thinking, "Do you speak French or not? You just did, you know."
Case in point. Just today, a man held the door open for me while I pushed the stroller through, loaded with groceries. He continued on in French, asking if he could help bring them upstairs for me. (Context and gestures!) I declined, as it meant several loads and I'd just seen him talking to the police (!) (I have pictures, see below!). There was some back and forth, me speaking some English and French but mostly gesturing that I was fine and thank-you for helping, and him speaking French. Finally, he seemed to understand and he started up the stairs,
"English?" he asked.
"Yes, yes, I speak English." I said.
"I don't speak English." He said with an accent, emphasizing the "don't".
And I thought, Really? How much English don't you speak?
When we first got here, Mr. French would start every inquiry with an apologetic ...
"Je ne parle pas français tres bien." ("I don't speak French very well.")
And after he asked his question, many would reply, "You speak French well!"
And then Mr. F would want to say, "But that's all I can speak!"
S had a substitute teacher the other day. I asked him how he liked her.
He said, "I just say, I not talk."
Sometimes you have to wonder if immersion is all it's cracked up to be.
C'est la vie!