Friday, December 03, 2010

Lessons Learned in French Class

I’m ashamed of myself for not putting as much effort as I should be into French class. I am paying a lot of money to take these classes and am not learning as much as I can because I don’t réviser enough. So for this session, I decided I would take my homework a lot more seriously.

For my first assignment, to write a little biography of myself, I sought out the native French eye from multiple friends to help me find mistakes in grammar and spelling. After correcting errors in almost every single sentence, I was proud to finally print off the four paragraphs and know they were the best they could be. I was ready to bring my homework to class and show it off.

Except our teacher wasn’t there. Even worse, the substitute was a teacher I H-A-T-E, she didn’t even mention the homework, and really I dislike her teaching style for many, many other reasons. I tried to sit through class, but knew after five minutes I had to get out of there. I stomped out as gracefully and cheerfully as possible, but I was fuming. A. I worked hard on this homework for nothing. B. That sub is the absolute worst and everyone knows it, so why in the world would the Alliance Française even let her take the class and just waste everyone’s time?

As I rode my bike home, I thought more about it. I was wrong about both A and B. For A: I did not work really hard on my homework for my class or for my teacher. I worked hard on it for myself, to improve my own French. As an added bonus, I got to reach out to some of my French friends whom I haven’t stayed in as good of touch with as I should have. I really appreciated the time they put in to help me out, and I hope I can return the favor. Physically handing in my homework didn’t matter for any of that. For B: I forget that I’m dealing with the French here. How many times were my classes in France – both when I was taking them at the university level and teaching them at a primary school – randomly canceled with no explanation? Americans expect a certain level of communication and I-have-to-know-every-single-thing-that-is-going-on-ever for every aspect of their lives and the French are just like “Meh. Guess the teacher didn’t show, I’m going to go drink an espresso.”

So, aside from working harder to learn more in French class, I need to work harder to remember the lessons I already learned in France. Mainly, don’t get stressed out about it, because it isn’t that big of a deal.

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