Friday, February 22, 2013

The First Days of French

my complementary school binder
Two days of French class under my belt!  Woohoo!

Do I sound sufficiently excited?  Because the truth is, I wasn't dreading starting my class, but I definitely wasn't looking forward to it either.

However, the morning of the first day, it suddenly hit me: 

"Hey, wait a second.  I'm a good student.  I've always been a good student.  I work hard to a high standard.  I'm determined and detail-oriented.  I make good grades.  Sure, I have a strong streak of procrastination, but ever since I was a wee kindergartener, I've been a good student, gosh darn it!"

There are a few things in life we're each good at and, for me, being a student is one of them.  It's an utterly boring yet useful skill.  I realized I completely forgot this about myself, I suppose because the last time I was a real student in a real class was...yikes...10 years ago!

All this to say, I feel much better about it all now.

Anyway, here are my thoughts and impressions so far.

Demographics:  There are about 30 people in the class, and it feels quite full.  About a quarter are males, the rest females (not to be sexist, but this actually makes sense considering it's during "working hours").  If you divided the class in half, I'd probably be in the older group, and the largest segment is young women in their twenties.  It sounds like we'll find out everyone's nationalities next week, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if there are at least 20 represented!  I'm fairly confident I'm the only American, and it's also quite possible I'm the only truly native English speaker.  Yet when the teacher isn't speaking to us in French, such as when she gives us a specific instruction we must understand, she uses English.  And I'm sooo grateful.  After all, it's not one of the three national languages here, so one can never assume it will be used.  Still, I suppose its status as a "world language" makes it the obvious common-language choice in a multinational French class.

lots of group and partner work
Instructor:  I quite like the teacher.  She is a fit, energetic, and positive woman around 40ish.  She repeatedly chastised our group (with good humor) for low energy and reminded us to "do gymnastique once a day!" Apparently she travels 40 km each day to class, so I assume she lives in France.  

showing us the bibliotheque 

more school tour - cafeteria
Content:  Yeah, taking the most beginner class was a good move.  It appears that many of the students are in the same situation as me in that they know some of the basics already.  For example, on day two we went over numbers 1-100, and it sounded like several of us knew them all.  I feel a bit worried for the people who are truly brand new to French.  And yet I'm guessing that almost all of them are at least bilingual already, so maybe that experience of learning another language will carry them through.  The pace is quick, and we're expected to practice a lot at home.

One quick story:  First off on the first day, we played the classic go-around-the-circle-name-game in which you must say your name and all the names that came before.  But remember all those nationalities?  I've never played the name-game with such a high degree of difficulty!  Sonnhild, Fitri, Ma Jufeng, Aigars, Zainab...x30 and all in their native pronunciations (and we only got the spellings later).  Whew!

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