Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mulling it over

I've been suffering from restless nights for the past week. Any slightly worrying thought that can, seems to pop into my head and refuse to budge, whilst I toss and turn half-way between dreamlike thoughts and consciousness.

Last night I had the most awful realisation that kept me awake for hours but we'll have to jump back two days for the source of the problem.

Tuesday afternoon, I had carried out my good deed for the week, welcoming a young French woman into our flat. Brigitte is a troubled first year Med student. Apparently, despite ending up in the top percentile of her year, she has gotten herself into a nervous wreck and is working herself into a deep depression about being unable to cope with the workload.

Her Mum, a friend of Frog Family, is now very worried about her daughter's health and called me up to ask if I would mind helping her daughter with the obligatory English coursework that she has to complete. Having been in that situation myself (not in the top percentile of Med school, but getting myself into a state and having a great Mum to pull me through), I was more than happy to invite Brigitte to the flat that afternoon.

She had a ten minute oral presentation to prepare and had already written out her notes. The subject was the History of Christmas and we spent a couple of hours going through her papers, correcting some of the grammar, vocab and confirming pronunciation.

Now, my immediate reaction was that she's clearly an overachiever. Whilst her notes had a few standard French speaker's mistakes, it was all in pretty good shape and when she spoke she had a good accent. My second reaction was, my English has gone to pot!

I'm so used to hearing French versions of sentence structure (in French or from Frog's version of English) that I struggled to impose an English structure on her work!

We got through the work, and I hope I encouraged her confidence a little by the time she left. I had no worries that she would do well in her presentation on Thursday.

So, fast forward to last night at 4am. For some reason this was the moment when I suddenly realised that I had not corrected her final sentence. Her humorous conclusion is a comment on drinking during the season. She wrote 'hot wine' and I had neither noticed nor corrected this to 'mulled wine'.

Why it took 48 hours to realise this I don't know. What I do know is that I need to concentrate a little on my English skills. I can't be crap in two languages - one of them has got to give!

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