When I first arrived here my host father and I spoke to each other in French along the way to his house. We asked each other the usually questions back and forth with me struggling to produce questions and answers. During the course of the conversation he explained to me what he does for a living. At the time, I translated his answer as either “like a teacher” or someone who looks after property. This unsatisfactory conclusion has stayed with me for the last few weeks.
Last night, Dominique and Pascal (host parents) had a friend of theirs over for dinner. She brought with her a German student who was also studying here in La Rochelle. He spoke a little English and our French was more or less on par with one another. He and I talked for a while in French and English for over two hours. During that period, he asked Dominique what he did for a living. The answer as explained to this German student was (in French) “like a teacher” but “with children who have psychological problems.” I am not certain whether this is evidence that my French has improved or that Dominique simplified his initial answer to me based on my limited language skills. Either way I must extend a warm “Danke Sie“ to my new German friend for helping clear up one of the oldest mysetious of my voyage.