Chapter IX – Part 3

$ Do you have the impression that the first place is reserved for his mother, the second place for your daughter and you’re only in the third place?

$ If not in the fourth.

$ I beg your pardon.

$ I mean his carrier.

$ I’m so relieved.

$ And it drives me mad that in a way I don’t do anything: the daughter is at school, we have a housekeeper and in spite of this I keep being busy and I can’t see any result of so much effort.

$ Do you feel frustrated with the housewife’s role?

$ Bloody hell! Of course! And on the one hand I know I have to take care of the house because I have a husband and a daughter and no job; on the other hand, I am all fired up when my working single friends envy me and say: you’re so lucky: a loving husband who makes money, you have no financial worries, and a healthy, charming baby.

$ Do you feel sad because they don’t understand you?

$ That’s right. And in all this I deluded myself that learning French would be my perfect getaway, that I would better manage time for the sake of the beautiful melody of the language, for the joy of learning and for the perspective of speaking it in France. I hoped that making progress would bring me on to work more so that what made me angry in my everyday routine wouldn’t have such an impact on my mood.

$ To sum up, learning French was supposed to be an affair with a virtual knight in whose arms you wanted to forget your worries and see the world in the colors of the rainbow.

$ Go, laugh at me.

$ Have I hurt you with this metaphor?

$ A little. I mean, it’s very pertinent because not only don’t I fly away like in the arms of a dream lover while learning languages, but also I feel disappointed with the fact that I can’t read, distinguish vowels, I can’t hear what they say in the scripts recorded on CDs and I don’t remember what I have learned.

$ A little digression. Have a look at this, please.

$ My attendance list. So what?

$ Which session is it today?

$ 9th.

$ After 8 sessions you want to know everything: how to read, how to infallibly distinguish vowels, clearly hear what they say and remember everything.

$ Because I know I’m the one to blame. At the first meeting we set, I mean, I estimated that I am able to study French one hour a day. And of course I am. I am able to study French longer. But, firstly, I don’t get organized to do it. And secondly, if I do get organized, I am so defocused that as a matter of fact I could just forget studying French. The result would be the same.

$ You told me you attended yoga classes at ‘Harmony’ and besides you practice at home.

$ That’s right.

Chapter IX – Part 2

$ I feel awful at this time of the year.

$ Do you mean the weather?

$ Basically yes. I get up at 6.00 am to pick the kids up to school on time – it’s still night. The sun rise is at about 7.00 am. So what? It’s completely dark anyway. Days are grey: more grey or less grey. At about noon you’re able to open the curtains and switch the lights off. After a while it’s dark again and the night starts soon.

$ You hate November and December, don’t you?

$ Yes, wholeheartedly. Becoming a hibernator – that would be my way. There’s no winter in paradise. In paradise, all year long you can walk naked and you don’t feel cold. All year long the fruit grows on the trees: you can crop juicy delicacies all the time.

$ On the other hand: no skiing, no snowman.

$ People invented skiing to be able to move on the land covered with snow. When the primary reason stopped being the mainspring because they invented snow ploughs, they talked themselves into liking it in order to shorten to time waiting for spring.

$ December is the time when we get ready for Christmas.

$ What are you giving me with Christmas?

$ You don’t like Christmas either.

$ I like the way my child loves Christmas. Unfortunately it’s more input than output.

$ What do you mean?

$ If you want to buy a sensible present and not to overpay you need to start or even better finish in October. Excuse me, have you got some tissue?

$ Here you are.

$ I don’t know what happens. I don’t have a runny nose. I haven’t caught a cold and every time I come to you I need to blow my nose.

$ As if you wept without shedding tears.

$ Get over yourself. So the Christmas thing starts in autumn. Maybe it used to make sense in the past: people were poorer, they starved a lot, the ‘grande bouffe’ on holidays was a real celebration. And now? If I feel like it I can bake ginger bread every day. In fact, my target now is to ration pleasures of the palate, let alone to watch my weight.

$ The upcoming Christmas brings much tension.

$ Evidently. And the worst thing is that I can’t control this. Every year I go shopping and buy loads of food, everything the best quality, because it’s for the fucking Christmas. I spend hours, I spend days in the kitchen, cooking tons of food, which we eat subsequently, we overeat and what we don’t eat out is frozen and we keep eating the leftovers till spring.

$ You seem to be very disappointed with Christmas.

$ That’s what I am. And helpless. We used to leave and go to hot countries for Christmas and New Year. That was more expensive but so much more comfortable. And this injection of sunshine and heat in the middle of winter! Unfortunately, my child was so sad about spending Christmas not at home. And I am not able to say ‘no’ to her because I think I am a disgraceful mother and this makes me furious. And also my husband got scolded because he turned out to be an impious son who didn’t want to spend Christmas with his mom. And they are four siblings: two sisters, their brother and my husband. Only my husband is the mummy’s sonny boy.

Chapter IX – Part 1

Aged 89 Granny became the oldest person in Britain to pass the advanced Latin-American ballroom-dancing examination, and aged 90 she became the oldest person to hit a hole in one at golf. Granny was 99 when she died. Shortly before that, she had written to me to say that the previous ten years had been the best of her life. That same year, on her way round the world on a cruise ship, she had been left behind in Jamaica with only her swimming costume on. She had even read “A Brief History of Time” (something which I’ve never been able to manage!). She never stopped learning. Her attitude was, you’ve got one go in life, so make the most of it.

Sir Richard Branson about his grand-mother

Success is what you attract by the person you become.

No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.

Your life only gets better, when you get better.

There is always a philosophy for lack of courage.

It matters not what a person is born, but who they choose to be.

We don’t see things the way they are. We see things the way we are.

A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.

Chapter VIII – Part 13

$ I came to ask to turn down the music but I can see nothing doing, dancing queen.

$ Just a moment. I feel so good! By the way, you never dance.

$ No, never, but I am constantly in motion. I stretch every time I feel an impulse to do it. I use my body consciously: my muscles are a little tightened all the time. But not tense. And not lose like meat at the butcher’s. I like running untraveled roads, chasing butterflies. Or imagining that something or someone is escaping from me and pretending that I want to catch it until I am tired of running. What did you need to dance out?

$ Margaret had her coaching class today, we talked about reactive and proactive language, winners and losers, Inner Parent, Inner Child, Inner Adult.

$ You got scared at the very thought that you used to live without knowing all of this, didn’t you?

$ Exactly! I remembered the first time I read Covey. Before I started reading I thought to myself: well, a book is only a book. And then there were days, I read half a page, a paragraph or a sentence and digested it during the rest of the day. I can recall the shock I experienced when I had realized that I was responsible for everything in my life, for every detail. I resisted so much this message, I fought against arguments in my head.

$ The more I am internally convinced that something I don’t like (because it implies much work on myself) is true, the more I resist outside.

$ That’s what I experienced. But it’s with a great relief that I started using proactive language. I felt very satisfied when somebody said to me: you have to do this, you have to do that and I could answer: I don’t have to do anything. Was it due to my fascination with foreign languages? I don’t know. Anyway, proactive language fitted to me from the start, like the shoe to Cinderella’s feet.

$ Cinderella is your favorite fairy tale.

$ O, yes! Today we talked about fairy tales, too. In terms of scripts and transactional analysis.

$ To what extend are you Cinderella?

$ Much too far. The relationship with my brothers and sisters, impossible tasks achieved with the help of people from outside of the closest family.

$ Do you mean the fairy godmother?

$ That’s right.

$ I like the interpretation of the story that says the godmother let Cinderella go to the ball because she wanted to be face to face with Cinderella’s father.

$ And Cinderella was so naive to think that her godmother did it because she loved her.

$ Many years later when she realized that she understood that she had spent her childhood in an ocean of solitude.

$ And she thought to herself: it doesn’t matter what I got; it does matter what I’ll do about it. And she decided to be grateful for that experience because it led her to meet the prince – love of her life and it made her a wise, tolerant, and caring princess.

$ And they lived happily ever after.

Chapter VIII – Part 12

$ Do you go running?

$ Yes, I do. Last Saturday I ran half a marathon.

$ Do your children run half marathons?

$ No, they don’t. They run when they feel like it, when they have too much energy, when they want to tease me.

$ Adults make a duty out of every entertainment. Running = trainings, sacrifice, adequate outfit. Dancing = a ball room, a course, different shoes types for different dances. Painting = Art with a capital A or nothing.

$ I can’t feel the rhythm, I have never been able to draw. I used to cheat at school: my very talented friend would always do two drawings: one for her, one for me.

$ Pinker, a Canadian linguist, considers dancing and singing a kind of code. Languages are codes too and codes serve to communicate, consequently they are something absolutely natural. An infant lies in bed and their whole body reacts to the music. A 2-year-old baby hardly started to walk and they let the music enchant them. They enjoy watching their bodies in the mirror and admire their elementary pirouettes.

$ Do you suggest I had it and I lost it?

$ I suppose I had it, I lost it and then I regained that.

$ How do people lose it?

$ We are taught to compare to others and reach for I don’t know how exorbitant standards. What kind of hero do you have to be to be able to enjoy dancing in spite of the comments around you: you completely don’t know how to move?

$ But you have to admit that when you watch people dance, sometimes you experience pleasure watching, sometimes – let me put it in a diplomatic way – the pleasure is smaller.

$ That’s the way the critical Inner Parent watches it. The Inner Child simply plays: it watches or it dances. Can you test something? It’s a way to contact your Inner Child. Next time when you get angry or when things go wrong, switch on music and dance, if nobody can see you. Or sing when nobody can hear you. Or even better: scream and shout. And you’ll tell me how it was.

$ Do you do that?

$ I love dancing. And I know that if I am not able to dance, it means I would end up crying, I am so filled up with sorrow. And after I heard about this way to contact the Inner Child, I started screaming when I was pissed off and I burst into tears, I cried, cried out. Can we make an experiment with a drawing?

$ You can be sure: I can’t draw.

$ I take it. Here you are: a piece of paper, a pencil. Draw your family when you were five.

$ I can’t finish this drawing. I feel like weeping.

$ Did you feel very lonely as a child?

$ How do you know?

$ Look at your drawing. There are five circles, none of them are tangent, they move like free electrons around a nucleus – this bigger circle.

$ It represents my father.

$ And this little thing at the border of the galaxy is…

$ … me.

$ None of the circles have a base, a ground to support it. They are suspended, apparently together, as if by chance. That is why I thought about solitude.

$ I feel relieved now. As if I had smashed an ulcer inside of me.

$ You have invited your Inner Child to your life. When everybody lets you down, when there’s no light point on the map of your life, the loving Inner Parent will calm your Inner Child and it will tell you everything about your feelings, premonitions, longings, needs. You’ll let yourself be surprised by its creativity, intuition, innate wisdom.

You worked a lot today. Let me get you a drink.

Chapter VIII – Part 11

$ Right, you told me that Sami language of Norway, Sweden and Finland has around 180 snow and ice related words. Coming back to the question of changing the script. What do you think: if I have a loser’s or a nonwinner’s script, can I change it merely by doing everything contrary to what my family recommended?

$ Berne talks about something what he calls antiscript, a method you’ve just described. If your script says: you can take drugs as long as you live with your mummy, your antiscript would say: I stop taking drugs and I move to another continent. Your script: be a good girl and an excellent student; your antiscript: I will be a bad girl and I’m not going to study. There’s no free will in it, no own choice, no independent decision. From the outside it looks as if I weren’t doing anything my script dictates, inside myself I follow it the other way round. My script indicates my antiway. I mentioned that a spellbreaker was a beginning of the work. Here I need to introduce another concept from the transactional analysis.

$ What analysis?

$ Berne is a specialist in transactional analysis.

$ Ok.

$ Well, in everyone of us there are 3 levels: Inner Child, Inner Adult, Inner Parent. Inner Child is a part of me that acts like a child: it follows natural instinct, emotions, impulses. Inner Child can be natural, like a healthy baby whose needs are completely fulfilled, that experiences unconditioned love. Inner Child can also be rebellious or adapted. Or it can play the role of an Inner Professor. Inner Parent can be natural, too, nurturing, caring, loving or controlling.

$ Controlling parents raise adapted and rebellious children; natural parents raise natural children.

$ That’s the way it is.

$ Who raises Inner Professors?

$ Neglecting Parent, indifferent. The child needs to become adult very quickly.

$ I see. It happens in family then.

$ You copy the patterns from your family and apply them to develop your personality.

$ How does it go?

$ When you are a child and people around you praise you and encourage you, when you grow up you listen to the similar voices in your head. If the main message you remember from your childhood was: are you really so stupid or you are just faking? then the most frequent suggestion from your Inner Parent is: you are stupid. If your parents’ approach was carrot and stick: your manners are excellent, but you put your fork and your knife the way it touched the table and you mixed sugar with your tea very loudly, then your Inner Parent will keep on stating: do it better, earn more, lose more weight.

$ I feel devastated. All those Parents are in my head!

$ Have faith. Listen about the Inner Adult. When we are little we don’t know one can do it in a different way. For a baby, parents are gods. What they say is holy. After children grow up, they meet other families and start to see differences. Then they get to know other environments, they can tell the difference between what they like and what they don’t and once they are adult they can choose for themselves. And precisely the Inner Adult is a part of me that calculates, observes, comes to conclusions, chooses what it pays off to do, decides my fate. Inner Adult says: I can hear a voice in my head and I decide whether to follow it or not. Inner Adult understands that these voices are not them: they are their Inner Parent or Inner Child. When we are adult, the best solution is to act out from the level of the Inner Adult as often as possible and be a Loving Parent for yourself.

$ How do I do that?

$ If you don’t have an example in your closest family, you observe other happy families and learn from them. If a baby cries, their mummy gives them a hug, with empathy names their feelings, talks to them about their needs in a given moment and teaches them how to take care of their fulfillment, how to ask for help, how to accept that others have a right to say ‘no’.

$ And what about the Inner Child when I am adult?

$ This is a very, very important part of everyone of us. An adult person, bemused by the controlling parent, can spend all the time in their reason and avoid questions like: who am I? what is really important for me? what do I dream of? what fascinates me? They are robots in human bodies. The Inner Child reflects emotions, play, spontaneity. Do you know people who get plastered and change so much that you can hardly recognize them?

$ Sure.

$ They need their Inner Parent to get drunk so that the Inner Child can blow off steam.

$ I suppose there are less radical methods of cooperation with the Inner Child.

$ Indeed. And you know them. How do your children play?

$ They run, build sand castles, dance, sing, draw, talk to dolls and teddy bears.

Chapter VIII – Part 10

$ Lovely.

$ Finish spontaneously the sentence: I wish I…

$ I wish I hadn’t given up my University carrier and started working in the industry; all in all, I got back to the University.

$ And I regret…

$ Maybe. Maybe!!! I regret getting married.

$ I would like to invite you to test the following habit. In your agenda or in other accessible place put down a sentence like this: that’s what I did and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The habit consists in reading this sentence every time you hear yourself say ‘I wish’ or ‘I regret’ and realizing what you feel. It may also happen that you’ll see the results of working on this sentence only when you use it while talking to somebody who attacks you, e.g.: I wish you had sent your children to the school X. And you say: I sent them to the school Y. That’s what I did and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

$ How can it work?

$ Eventually you’ll realize that you are perfect the way you are. And that exactly all your experience, even when you sum it up with ‘I wish’ or ‘I regret’ got you to the place where you are now, to your excellence.

$ If only I could think so.

$ Have we got ‘if only’ in our chart?

$ Not exactly in our chart; under the chart it says: nonwinners: at least, ‘I’m sorry’ 80 times a day, if only.

$ So let’s get back to Eric Berne I mentioned at the beginning of our meeting. During many years of his medical practice he observed that people acted according to schemes which he called scripts. His scripts are based on fairy tales, stories, biographies of heroes and include script payoff, injunction, prescription and others. He also described spellbreakers which give you intend release and are a script antithesis.

$ So a script is not a sentence.

$ Of course not! For example, if your script is: don’t think – drink and ruin your life, your spellbreaker can be: you can stop drinking.

$ As easy as that? Does it work?

$ A spellbreaker is merely a beginning.

$ Somehow I expected that.

$ Coming back to the nonwinners. Berne noticed that there are 3 types of people: winners, losers and nonwinners. Consequently, there are winning, losing and nonwinning scripts. And what is essential while learning a language, your vocabulary reflects your script according to whether you’re a winner, a loser or a nonwinner. Berne also distinguishes various kinds of laughter and interprets body language, e.g. breathing, cough, sigh, yawn, grunt, sob. Generally, losers aka frogs don’t know what they will do when they lose and they talk about what they will do when they win. And winners aka princes or princesses know what they will do if they “lose” (in inverted commas) and don’t talk about it.

$ Why in inverted commas?

$ Because for a winner everything is a victory. This is a fascinating paradox: basically winners “lose” more often than losers because they test more options, separate the wheat from the chaff, choose what enriches their lives. After they cross the river, leave the boat at the river bank, go to the top of the mountain without the boat on their back. And losers are scared, they don’t take risks, consequently they lose less often.

$ And nonwinners?

$ This is a very interesting group. They are people who have everything they need to be successful, they work on it, however with no result.

$ And it all is reflected in the way we speak?

$ If not all, then at least a lot. Do you remember what you felt today when you started saying ‘I can do that’, ‘I am allowed not to do that’ etc.?

$ Yes, I was moved.

$ You started changing.

$ I can also start with changing my script and then they way I speak will change itself, won’t it?

$ The most important is you do it your way. Anyway, Benjamin Lee Whorf said: language shapes the way we think and determines what we can think about.

Chapter VIII – Part 9

Coming back to what we were talking about before we started our dictation: in the time space what does the question of power look like?

$ In my opinion, there aren’t any labels in the time space. In the time space everything IS. It is ridiculous but after I read chapter X from “The Little Prince” I can’t identify with the statement that men have more power than women.

$ Neither do we know whether it happened specifically after you read a part of “The Little Prince”. Anyway, as I said, according to the Chinese numerology: it doesn’t matter what you’ve got; it matters what you do about it. The range of your power apparently hasn’t changed over last minutes. You have done something so that a factor that limited you doesn’t limit you anymore. And as far as the attitude towards order and cleanliness are concerned, let me share an association with you. There’s something called a red herring, a counterirrtant, described in a brilliant way in “Catch 22″ by Joseph Heller: ‘When I was a kid I used to walk around all day with crab apples in my cheeks. One in each cheek. I wanted apple cheeks. Even when I was a kid I wanted apple cheeks someday, and I decided to work at it until I got them, and by God, I did work at it until I got them, and that’s how I did it, with crab apples in my cheeks all day long. With rubber balls in my hands I could deny there were crab apples in my cheeks. Every time someone asked me why I was walking around with crab apples in my cheeks, I’d just open my hands and show them it was rubber balls I was walking around with, not crab apples, and that they were in my hands, not my cheeks. It was a good story. But I never knew if it got across or not, since it’s pretty tough to make people understand you when you’re talking to them with two crab apples in your cheeks.’

$ Excellent! Are you suggesting that my love to cleanliness is a rubber ball and in fact I’m putting crab apples in my cheeks?

$ I had an association and I shared it with you. If it inspired you to do something – fantastic. If I am way off the target, leave it. Tidying up is an interesting subject. It is connected with the home. My home is my castle. I remember a scene from a movie about the A-bomb. They spread an order: Everybody to the fallout shelter, everybody to the fallout shelter. Everyone is running as fast as they can and a woman starts making beds compulsively. Her husband drags her away, forces her do leave the house and she keeps on evening out the bedsheets.

$ Tough. It resonates with me: to want to control something when so much is out of control. I’ll have a closer look at this and I’ll tell you about it, ok?

$ Of course. I love my job. Now, take our chart and choose at least one translation from reactive into proactive that you can’t swallow and tell me which ones you accept easily.

$ Let me start with what comes easily. Saying ‘and’ instead of ‘but’ seems to be a piece of cake. Why is ‘but’ reactive?

$ ‘But’ means in fact: I delete what I’ve just said. Listen to this: ‘you look gorgeous but you got on in years.’ ‘He is very successful but his work doesn’t appeal to me.’ ‘He speaks English very well but his accent is horrible.’

$ Right. At face value it seems more natural to me to start a new sentence rather than replace ‘but’ with ‘and’.

$ With time it may also turn out that if I see that they look gorgeous I don’t need to add anything.

$ This is very tempting. Next easy one – ‘maybe’. You see, ‘maybe’ is my second nature, it probably doesn’t belong to the easy ones.

$ Be gentle with yourself. You were saying: next easy one.

$ Next easy one is ‘where’s the toilet’. I like that one. Assuming from the very beginning that I can use their toilet. I can’t see easy ones anymore.

$ Which ones do you find unacceptable?

$ Many of them. Beside ‘maybe’, ‘probably’, ‘I have to’, ‘I should’, ‘I’ll try’ maybe – look! again maybe!!! – ‘I regret’ and ‘I wish’ are my strong suits. With a commitment worth a higher cause I analyze in my head what I could have done better or what I could have not done and what I could have done instead.

$ Self-flagellation of a perfectionist. I often work on perfectionism with my students because it is a huge obstacle in speaking a foreign language. Not only in this, of course, nevertheless, I’m putting emphasis on this right now because we are in a language coaching class.

$ I am a perfectionist. That’s me. That’s my way.

$ Let me repeat one question from our today’s meeting: does it pay off to be a perfectionist?

$ I don’t know. Sometimes I feel agonized with my perfectionism. Sometimes I am worried because I think to myself: if I weren’t a perfectionist, I wouldn’t have any ambitions, I wouldn’t do anything.

$ You have a right to choose what serves you. A client of mine, an epitome of perfectionism, came to the conclusion that it limited her and said to herself: from now on good enough is enough. She did what she said, being a perfectionist. Every time people mentioned her perfectionism, she replied: oh, no, no, good enough is enough. And one day she attended a meeting related to the renovation of her company’s building. Her architect said: this must be done perfectly. Of course, my client commented: good enough is enough and her business partner, who knew both my client and her architect very well, added: I’m sure you both mean the same thing.

Chapter VIII – Part 8

$ You know, at school we are trained to learn something in the classrooms and to revise it at home. Since everything is a part of a smart program, after you graduate you’re supposed to know many things from many domains. And it’s not the point I’m going to make that you finish school, eat a fish fillet and wonder: is fish invertebrate? Or when they say it’s Einstein’s birthday and you realize you don’t know what E=mc2 stands for.

$ Right. I would compare applying reforms in the school programs with cleaning the Augean stables.

$ At least I know who Augeas was. Anyway, the idea of learning with a teacher became so rooted in me that I wasn’t able to buy your text: I am preparing you to self-education, you’ll be independent from language courses.

$ We’re coming back to the source, to the times when you were learning your mother tongue.

$ Only now it is easier because my background is much more developed, e.g.: I’ve got a large experience learning English. I saw it very clearly today while correcting my dictation.

$ I am very, very happy to hear that. To learn a foreign language doesn’t require a teacher in a classical meaning of the word (a philologist, in a classroom, with a class register, student books, homework). Nevertheless, without any help of other people it would be unrealistic, however still possible, all in all we learn languages first and foremost in order to communicate. By the way, let me tell you how I have learned Catalan. For one month I used to live in Catalonia and I became friends with a local girl who ran a shop with healthy food. So she wasn’t a teacher in the classical meaning of the word which I described a moment ago. I suggested exchanging her Catalan for my English. We used to learn half an hour a day each language. My learning consisted in working on a book she used to bring, a book about birds, by the way. She would read a sentence or a half and I would repeat it. My task was easy because I knew French and Spanish. While looking at the text I practically understood it. We started reading two sentences, than half a page, than a whole page, day by day more and more. Then I read myself and she listened and commented or corrected me if necessary.

$ How did you switch from reading to speaking?

$ Reading was the first step every day. The next task, I set myself, was to master it.

$ Do you mean: to learn it by heart?

$ More or less. I don’t want to exaggerate. I recited the text, gazing now and then at the book. The exercise consisted in saying out loud the whole sentences in Catalan, gradually ingesting various expression (e.g. ‘for the first time in my life’, ‘so far’, ‘some years later’), observing how you talk in this language about the present, the future and the past.

$ In other words, you applied Broniarek’s method without writing down the translation in order to replay the original text perfectly.

$ That’s well put. I had the enormous advantage of being in Catalonia. My language education was not only working on a book about birds but also listening to people around me, reading all sort of inscriptions, briefly: life. Some time later I started to understand my interlocutors regardless of whether they talked to me in Spanish or in Catalan. However, I answered in Spanish. I remember the day I unclogged. One of the owners of a café where I was a regular customer didn’t know I was learning Catalan. He started speaking to me in Catalan and after having said 2-3 sentences he realized he was speaking Catalan to me and said: Sorry, I forgot you didn’t speak Catalan. And I said: No pasa rès. And so we kept on speaking Catalan.

$ It’s a very beautiful story. And with a moral.

$ What’s the moral?

$ Find your way, work and you’ll get what you want to.

$ The Rolling Stones sing: you can’t always get what you want to.

$ They don’t have faith. They don’t believe in themselves.

$ That’s my girl.

$ Besides, you cannot get what you want to if you want everything at once.

$ From the perspective of the linear time you’re absolutely right. In the time space you get everything at once, here and now.

Chapter VIII – Part 7

$ Dictations.

$ I hated dictations at school.

$ That is a common reaction when I start introducing this method. In my opinion, dictations are a very underestimated tool in the process of learning languages, especially as far as writing is concerned, especially in French, which is called a failed attempt to create a language merely out of vowels. Listen to the text again. After every couple of words I’ll pause and you write it down as good as you can.


Now, as you have finished, take a look at this. This is the original text, compare it with what you have written. Do it yourself.

$ I made an error in the very first sentence.

$ Listen again: trouvait [ɛ] doesn’t sound the same as trouvé [e], right? Thanks to dictations you can improve your pronunciation.

$ And I made mistakes in numbers.

$ So if it’s ok with you, you can set yourself a task: revise numerals.

$ Here I omitted cedille.

$ Can you read the word you put down, please?

$ [komãka]. As a matter of fact, there must be a cedille so that you pronounce [komãsa]. This dictation starts to be interesting! O! There aren’t any mistakes in this sentence. And I like this one: “La première était habitée par un roi.” When you use sentences like this, it is evidence you’re advanced. “La première était habitée par un roi.”

$ That’s another advantage of writing dictations: you practice sentences that you would be able to build with the words that you have known; nevertheless, you didn’t speak like this before because you didn’t know you could. And you learn grammar accidentally. It is boring and inefficient to study grammar, elaborate on theories and do exercise in classrooms.

$ Right. In this sentence there is passive voice – it just so happens that I know it from school. What about parts of grammar that I have never learned?

$ I’ll base my explanation on the next part of your work. Please, keep on checking.

$ Here it says ‘dit’. Shouldn’t it be ‘a dit’?

$ ‘Dit’ is ok. It’s a past form used to narrate in writing. While reading the text, it is enough for you to be able to realize that this is this form and it means the past.

$ But I won’t be able to know what form it is.

$ Let’s conduct an experiment. Have a look at this text focusing only on this tense. Put down all the forms in one column and words they come from in another column.

$ Commença – commencer, s’écria – s’écrier, aperçut – apercevoir, se demanda – se demander, dit – dire, chercha – chercher…

$ I think you can stop it because it is easy for you.

$ As a matter of fact. All forms that don’t look like anything I have learned so far are in this tense. I like it!

$ Have you learned forms like ‘avait détenu’, ‘aurait pu assister’?

$ No, never, but I can deduce that ‘avait détenu’ is like ‘had kept’ and ‘aurait pu assister’ like ‘would have been able to participate’.

$ Exactly.

$ Have I ever told you that I was extremely skeptical when I heard you say: you don’t need a teacher to learn a foreign language?

$ Tell me all about it!