Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Start of French classes

Yesterday was my first language class in Li├Ęge, which is about 50 minutes from where I live by bus (and dramatically less by car...not that I would dare drive there!).

With my exceptionally small amount of experience with non-English schools, I can say that this particular school has a lot in common with the German schools I've seen, and not a lot in common with English ones. The building itself is massive and not as pretty as you might hope. In each of the endless number of classrooms, there is a chalkboard (yes that's right, horrified students, many countries still use these vintage contraptions). If you have ever seen the film Entre Les Murs, that is a cheerful version of the classroom I was sat in yesterday!

Compare this with even my primary school, where there were proper whiteboards in every room, several computers in every classroom, and a few interactive whiteboards throughout. In secondary school, I am fairly certain that every classroom had a clever whiteboard, costing several thousand a time.

And yet, for the students in the French class who were participating and had the concentration to keep up, the lesson was just as effective with chalk as it would have been with an all-singing-all-dancing presentation.

It must be said that of the 30 or so people in the advanced French class, not a lot seemed to be following or have the skills to understand the questions, so it's quite possible that several people will be moved to a lower group and the class will be able to move forward quicker than it did yesterday.

Sidenote: there was a Chinese guy in the class who was really struggling with conjugation (changing 'to go' to 'I go' or 'I went' or even 'I would have been going'), presumably because in Chinese conjugation doesn't exist. The teacher was getting quite fed up because this man really did not grasp that 'to read' in the past tense is not still 'to read', and I do find myself wondering how much your native tongue stops you from picking up other languages. Being that I have so far stayed pretty safe with my language learning, I suppose I would probably struggle too, if I tried a non-Indoeuropean language like Hungarian or something.

Either way, I have high hopes for this class. The teacher seems highly capable and it's lovely that I have another volunteer with me in the same class for if I ever get lost and want clarification in French/ German/ English...

(isn't it perfect?!?)

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