Thursday, January 28, 2010

Classe Française

About French class. I hate French class. I hate it for so many reasons. Let me count the ways:

(1) I have to wake up early before work (work starts at 8 am) or stay late after work (work ends between 5 and 7 pm). This is miserable.

(2) I have to do this three-to-five times a week while my colleagues sleep.

(3) I am not an auditory learner. It seems hopeless. Hopeless. Hopeless hooopeeeleeess hoooooopelessssssssss.

(4) My teacher stares at my eyes while I speak. He listens intently. He nods encouragingly. To practice conversation and verb tenses, I have to make sentences like “J’aime… j’ai aimé… j’aimerai… j'aurais aimé…” over and over. Even if all I say is “Je pourrais avoir aimé chocolat,” this is way too much intimacy for me.

(5) Listing out verb tenses, my teacher writes “Je… Tu… Il… Nous… Vous… Ils…” skipping Elle and On and Elles to save time. I sit. I seethe. I think that this is truly the root of GBV and of everything wrong with the world, that “elle” can be passed over - why? - to save time. I finally can’t bite my tongue. I snap. He blushes. He makes a point in the future to always switch back-and-forth, back-and-forth, erring on the side of Elle. I feel like a jerk.

(6) My teacher tells me about his thoughts and his community’s thoughts whenever I ask. He speaks happily, eager for my questions, responding to my queries about the volcanoes, the gorillas, the gases in the lake, fleeing the lava, fleeing the war, MONUC, the walls that are built everywhere, corporal punishment for children, anything I ask. Then he asks me about Les Etats-Unis. Let’s practice comparisons today, he says. Compare the roads here to the roads there! The hospitals! The schools! And I feel sick and I don’t want to talk about it at all. He is generous with his stories and I am not with mine.

(7) My teacher stares at my eyes. He leans forward and touches my hand. I notice he does this to everybody, male and female, with whom he speaks. But I haaaaaate it. I say something to his friend. He stops being so touchy but he keeps staring intently. And why does he do this thing that I hate? Well – it’s obvious. He has to lean forward and stare at my face. To understand my garbled speech. And I appreciate it. But I can’t stand it.

(8) The text book my teacher brings for us to study out of some days is old and yellowed. It is missing a cover. It starts, in fact, midsentence on the dog-eared page five. Seeing this book makes me feel frustrated with myself for my every little frustration with my teacher. He is making so much out of so little. He is a good, hard-working, caring teacher. I am not a good student. This beat up book is exactly what would be invented by the author of a novel to symbolize the relationship between the Kind Caring Teacher and the Spoiled Lazy Student. It is. It just is. And there it sits, staring at me, unintentionally mocking me, every morning, this poor little much-read difficult beaten book.

(9) This is the main reason I hate French class: It brings out the less kind, the less patient, the less forgiving, the more bitter aspects of my personality. Language is difficult for me; as a consequence, I spend the entire class on the defensive and ready to attack.

Imagine this: A healthy twenty-something white woman sitting on a wide porch, paying for private lessons, overlooking one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Can you see her? She is the absolute picture of privilege. And all she does is feel sorry for herself. Poor little rich girl. It disgusts me. I really need to suck it up.


caprice said...

Every day that you go to class aware of what you bring, positive and negative, you have the potential to see things differently. Recognizing your economic advantages thus far doesn't make you selfish it makes you self aware.
Challenging a mindset that you disagree with doesn't make you a jerk it helps you help others to be aware. And sticking it out makes you fluent in French and recent events have proven that this is a skill you want and need.

Rachel said...

Thank you, Cappy! <3

Katrina said...

Have you seen the episode of Friends where Joey is dating the girl who he really likes, but she eats off his plate at restaurants and he can't stand it. He starts ordering something like french fries to put between them, but she reaches over that and on to his plate.

That's what your learning teacher reminds me of. :)

Rachel said...

HAHAHA that's funny... have you seen the episode of Friends where Phoebe is trying to teach Joey French? In that episode, I remind myself of Joey. So I guess both me AND my teacher are Joey in this scenario.

MaggieRoo said...

Rachel, I will concentrate really hard on passing some language skills to you. You always tell me how good I am with foreign languages and how jealous it makes you - thank you, btw, it's hard for me to pat myself on the back but you can so easily brag about me. Are you reading good novels in French? I have been reading in Spanish (Isabel Allende) and I have it more stuck in my head now than usual. Also, you'll hit a point where you'll get a lot better but you're not going to notice it because you're living it every day. You should record yourself speaking French now (if you don't have a recording already) and record it again months from now and you'll see. Also, language acquisition isn't linear as you know, so unfortunately there's all those stupid ups and downs. You can do it!

Rachel said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Shnicmar! Also I love that idea, I think I will tape myself speaking. And then again in a couple of months... It's so ridiculously frustrating. I do wish you would share some of your language skills. You have soooo maaaaany and you just hog them all to yourself!!!! I'm not reading novels yet although I have been reading some kids books... ha. Hopefully. Hopefully! Hopefully soon...