French Class

The Indian summer has ended and we had cooler weather and rain today.  I think this may be the pattern for the rest for my stay.  I got lost coming back from Montparnasse and discovered the ‘upper-east-side’ of Paris looking at the shops and hotels along Rue Raspail. Swankadoodle. I guess I am a city mouse.

Today was my penultimate french language class at the Alliances Francaises in the Montparnasse area of Paris on Rue Raspail.  This week’s group is somewhat different from the first but, generally, there are few Americans; most are from Europe and South America and looking for work in the France.

As I have mentioned before, the teacher is a loquacious storyteller and charming philosopher of language and french culture.  His motto: “The birds flow in air, the fish flow in water, the French flow in words” or something like that.  I admit I am getting only 20% of everything he says.  However this is much better than before; this past summer in Marseille I was at the bottom of the sea stuck under a rock flowing nowhere.

As you get older you stop doing things where you feel stupid; it is humbling to be the only one in the room to only know one language.  I had a crises this afternoon as he asked me a question and he may have well have been speaking Martian.  EVERYONE in the class chimed in in English with the answer.

It is not entirely my fault – our teacher is still less focused on proper pedagogy. As he explains the difference between the imperative and subjunctive tenses he rushes, a bit bored, and the blackboard starts looking like a complex mathematical solution written by an impatient child.  However, his monologues are rich.  One of his anecdotes described the difference between ‘politesse’ and ‘tact’ – A man accidentally opens the door of an occupied bathroom and there is lady inside.  “Pardon, Madame” is ‘politesse’.  “Pardon, Monsieur” is tact.

I will miss him.





About Russell Parkman

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