Sunday, October 02, 2005

French as a terrifying language

Imagine you are an 8-year old boy at school. Your teacher has just written the homework for tomorrow on the chalkboard. Only she has written it in cursive, which you cannot read. Even if you could read the cursive words, you would not understand them, because they are in French. You are writing with a fountain pen, which, when in a temperamental mood, can deposit entire lakes of ink onto the page.

To your right is the only person in the room you are allowed to speak with, Diane (“dee-ahn”). Diane, although a very sweet, speaks almost no English. In your desk is a dizzying array of color-coded notebooks, one for each subject, one for your homework assignments, and one for communication between the teacher and the parents. There is an equally broad array of books for each subject, some of which would no doubt be helpful for completing the homework you have just been assigned, if only you knew what that was.

Welcome to language immersion the French way – who said the reign of terror is over in France?