I met my tutor for breakfast, we had a quick conversation in french to get me ready, and off I went.
This was my third attempt. When we all did the first attempt, we went in cocky. We had heard there was an examiner named Jacques, “Jacques le Couteau” was his nickname, and we all wanted Jacques. We were ready, send in the heavyweight. None of us had him and we all failed. For the second test, it was just a blur. For my third test, I just wanted out. I was a bundle of nerves, and I was focused on remembering my structures, rules, stories even. I was ready, but still nervous. I was introduced to the examiner, and he said, “Bonjour, je m’appelle Jacques” and I just about soiled myself.
Jacques? Anyone but Jacques! I was doomed.
We started off a bit rusty, I was reeling with it being Jacques, but I recovered when we moved past the chitchat warmup and into the actual test. » Read the rest
I had been back at Asticou about five weeks when I realized that the passive receiver of language learning was not working for me, and I spent a weekend thinking about some of the challenges I had gone through in the previous year. I kept coming back to the tutor’s analysis — I wasn’t letting go. Except I had, at least to the extent I could i.e. the extent that was within my personality and my learning style, and it hadn’t worked. I needed a different option. Since letting go wasn’t working, what if I took full control?
Lots of people might read that sentence and think, “Oh, of course, the student has to drive their own learning, be responsible, be engaged, etc.”. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something much more dramatic.
I went into my first interview on the Monday morning and it was with a teacher I knew well. » Read the rest
And all of us except one failed. The one who passed? The weakest one among us. Partly as her “stories” for telling what she did for a living were pretty simple in comparisons — she was a clerk who did very basic admin work. No one asked her how she answered the phone or sorted the mail. No follow-up questions, ever.
One of the other people in the group was a policy analyst, like me, and during their test, they were asked to explain “How do you go about analysing a policy?”. Umm, what? That question makes no sense. It’s like asking a car mechanic what steps they do to “mechanize” a car. Asking how to do research or do data analysis might be real questions, but an analyst couldn’t answer it well in english, let alone french. » Read the rest
I am a not a linguist by anyone’s definition. I’m not very eloquent in speaking English, let alone any other language. I can write pretty well in English, and I edit even better, but other languages were never my strength. I grew up in Peterborough, which was not exactly the hub of linguistic diversity. Or any other kind of diversity, for that matter, at the time, although it’s changed a lot since I was a kid.
We started French in grade 4 or 5 as I recall. I was okay, mostly because I was a good student, not because I had an aptitude for it. One year we did “French Xmas” i.e. we made yule log cakes, basically made lunch for the other teachers and one or two parents. I don’t even remember if we got to have any ourselves, other than the cake. I do remember that we got to go into the teacher’s lounge, and for the era, being shocked to see teachers acting normal instead of like their classroom personas. » Read the rest