An Actual Discussion? In French? C’est pas vrai!

April 3, 2008 at 9:26 pm (French, School)

In my French class today I think we had the first actual useful session all semester.  The drill sessions are supposed to supplement our learning in class through smaller, completely discussion-based sections.  There are only eight of us in my drill class, plus the instructor, who, by the way, is also a student, just a year or two ahead of us.  On a normal day, our instructor, J, goes through oral exercises with us, of the repeat-after-me variety.  It’s not totally useful, but I like it for the reinforcement of the vocab that we have in class, but other than that, I don’t get much out of the discussions.

Today, however, we actually had a discussion held (almost) entirely in French!  We’re learning the subjunctive, which allows for much more complex sentences, and so the textbooks creators decided that this would be a good place to put in vocabulary about prejudices and racism and sexism and all that fun controversial stuff.  So that’s what we talked about in French today.  And it was awesome!  Everyone was actually speaking in French, forming sentences on our own, rather than repeating exactly what the instructor said, save for the one word we had to conjugate or whatever.  This is what I wanted drill to be like!  This is so much better practice than ridiculous repeat-after-me drills.  Now, granted, a few people – well, most – people in the class aren’t exactly at my level and so can’t speak very coherently, but still.  How are you going to learn to speak in French if you can’t learn to think in French?  That’s what these conversations are all about anyway, teaching us to think in French.  It’s not like there’s much participation in the normal class.  I mean, the few times that I have had the opportunity to ask the professor a question or make a comment or something in class, I usually start off in French and then he tells me to just use English.  So basically, he’s the only one who speaks in French for the whole class, unless, again, we’re doing some sort of exercise where the only real thinking we need to do is conjugate one verb.

Again, I understand that the vast majority of the class is simply not ready for conversational French since this is only a 200-level class, but I would like to see some more emphasis.  I mean, the earlier you can get people/students thinking in French, the better.  Right?


1 Comment

  1. Steven said,

    in my school (Alliance française de Manille), the direct exposure method is called (I think) the “communicative approach” (somewhat intended to give a student a nosebleed, but very effective). before starting studying french, i took a placement exam despite the absence of an actual exposure and academic units. i just browsed some of these (I hope you would find these useful):

    audio files
    – Pimsleur French, available in limewire/torrent
    – michel thomas, available in limewire/torrent
    – linguaphone, available in limewire/torrent
    – living language, available in limewire (sometimes)
    – french in action
    – FSI french,

    e-books: (download the PDF version)
    – Liberté –
    – French slang –
    – Quebecois slang – has the following e-books: (just use the search part)
    McGraw Hill – Countdown to French – Learn to Communicate in 24 hours
    McGraw-Hill – Beginning French for the Utterly Confused – A. Sebastian Mercado
    The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning French on Your Own
    French Grammar and Usage Second Edition
    Better Reading French – A Reader and Guide to Improving Your Understanding of Written French
    French Verb Drills Third Edition



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