A New Experience in France with Rosetta Stone French

My history of studying French is long. In first grade, I attended a school that offered a specialized program for intensive French. I transferred schools in second grade, and because my new school didn’t offer such a program, I had to put French on hold until seventh grade when it was offered again. I advanced a level of French every year of high school, and yet after all these years I still find myself unprepared to engage in meaningful conversation in French.

un cafeI’ve been to France three times to visit my sister who lives there, and even though I had some level of comprehension, I never felt confident enough to speak. I had the mindset of a visitor. During each trip, I was there for a short time and was more concerned with seeing the sights of Paris than worrying about my French. Now that I reflect on those experiences, I remember that I relied on my sister to translate for me whether it was ordering at a café, reading a bus schedule, or speaking with others.

I’m a sophomore in college, and this semester I decided that if I was ever going to improve my French I needed to take a different approach. I attend Bennington College in Vermont, and we’re required to do a seven-week internship in the winter. “This is it!” I thought. I’m going to go to France, stay with my sister, who now lives in Grenoble, and look for an internship there. I was lucky to get in touch with VSArt (Volontariat et Soutien par l’Art), a volunteer association that has a chapter in Grenoble. Its mission is to organize cultural and artistic activities for people at local hospitals and retirement homes. I know that working for VSArt and navigating around Grenoble on my own is what I need.

I recently arrived in France, and when I flew here, I brought Rosetta Stone French with me. It’s been my tutor for furthering my French and refreshing my memory of all the French vocabulary and grammar I’ve been taught over the years. The program has given me a boost of confidence that’s allowed me to manage on my own when out of my comfort zone.

So far, my visit to France is quite different from my last visit—I’ve been engaging with French people and communicating with them all on my own. I’m learning a lot about the culture and society, and through my direct contact with others, involvement in VSArt, and Rosetta Stone, I’m honing my language skills as well. This already has proved to be a more organic and experiential language-learning experience than I’ve ever known before—and much more rewarding.

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Velina Zabtcheva

Velina Zabtcheva was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, and moved to New Jersey at the age of 12 with no knowledge of the English language. She was placed in an ESL (English as a Second Language) program in her middle school, and through its full-immersion approach, she became proficient in English in about six months. Velina also took French courses during middle school and throughout high school. Now at Bennington College in Vermont, she is focusing on psychology and cultural studies—and continuing her study of French. In January 2011, Velina won the Rosetta Stone Communicate and Connect Scholarship (http://bit.ly/h7DEbH), out of a field of more than 700 entrants, for her essay on cultural identity and becoming bicultural. She also decided to use Bennington’s 2011 “Field Work Term” as an opportunity to live and work in Grenoble, France, for the seven-week winter session. What better opportunity to polish her French and become acquainted with the culture of France? Determined to become trilingual, she’s using Rosetta Stone Version 4 TOTALe French (http://bit.ly/e2ru1V) to practice her French conversation skills and continue her language journey.
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