03 June 2005

God bless Sylvie

For months I have prayed (literally) that I would get a good French teacher when I started my course. Since reading David Sedaris’ essay about his experience in french class, I have had reservations about learning french - from the French - in France. David’s teacher threw things at him and abhorred him and his language ability. Thankfully I was assigned to Sylvie’s class. She looks like a French version of my high school Art History teacher, who was also the headmaster’s wife and the soul of our small school. I find Sylvie’s resemblance comforting.

The class has about 16 people in it, but seems smaller because of the jovial atmosphere. The class represents the following countries: Poland, Egypt, Finland, United States, Cuba, Iran, Dominican Republic, Australia, Russia, Japan, Germany, Ireland, Brazil and Columbia. A few of us have dual citizenship, so that factors into the list.

We have a Cuban lifeguard, a New York novelist, a Japanese journalist, a Dominican embassy worker, an Australian UN representative from Rome, an Iranian film director, and a Russian business student. Four of the students, plus Sylvie, have law degrees or are working on one. A couple of the girls are just out of (US) high school.

The guy from the Dominican embassy looks like he could be one of T’s classmates from the Georgetown MBA program. He wears a dark business suit everyday. I assume he has to go to work when class ends. When the Cuban lifeguard, a macho sort of guy, was embarrassed because Sylvie publicly told him to work on his writing skills — the Dominican guy switched seats and sat by the Cuban to help him follow along. I thought that was big of him.

We also have two very young Polish nuns. They might be in their 20s but look like high school freshman. They come to school every day with a chaperone, an older French woman who waits outside during the entire four hour class. She may be a nun as well, I am not sure. The French term for nun is “religeuse.” When we each told the class what our profession was, one of the nuns said she was an “economist” and the other said “musician.” I suppose in addition to their regular nun duties they also need to specialize.


At 6/6/05 19:36, Anonymous LBJ said...

One interesting thing I learned over there is that everyone in these language classes has at least 1 thing in common. All speak English. It is obvious that the Irish and Americans do. But all the others speak English in addition to their native language. It is a bit humbling to be struggling to learn a second language while you see the other students learning a third, or even fourth one.


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