I had a new student in one of my classes yesterday. A very nice girl, about 16 years-old, from Colombia. The young lady is in France for one of the same reasons as me: to improve her French. Apparently she's here with the Erasmus Programme, which I thought was only for European Union citizens, so maybe she has dual citizenship, but I didn't dare ask. (And yes, I wrote Programme with that -me given that it's a Euro program, so I imagine the only Americans involved are those lucky few with two passports.) There is one thing that all the teachers learned quite quickly: she doesn't really speak much French at all! Being that we're out in middle of nowhere (or as one of my French colleagues described, un trou paumé, or "a god-forsaken hole," but I think that's a bit harsh), it's a bit difficult to get by without knowing a lot of French, as I have learned. But being that I'm forced to speak in French outside of the classroom, I know that she'll pick it up better this way probably.
For the mean time, she only speaks Spanish (obviously) and some pretty good English, but it's not quite all there yet - sort of like my French. So in class yesterday, while the students were doing research on a project for their trip to Ireland next month, my colleague asked me if I knew any Spanish. I said warily, "Sí, un poco." So we were speaking to her first in English, but then I saw that look on her face that I recognized from the muscles in my face when I get confused or just plain tired of speaking in a second language so much. So she switched to Spanish and I translated to the teacher for her, which actually worked out pretty well.
I felt so useful! But I don't know if I'm ready for that translator job with the E.U. yet. I continued a conversation in Spanish with her, more for my own advantage which I explained to her as I need to practice - especially given that I'm going to Spain this Sunday! (Vacances d'Hiver is the next two weeks. Yes, there are two separate vacations for Christmas and Winter in France.) My problem always seems to be the same though: mixing up words, either pronouns or pronunciations on the same words, when I switch between these two very similar, Romantic languages. If I concentrate and think in one or the other for a long time, I'm fine usually in that language. I guess we'll see how well I do este domingo.