Étudiant Grant

By an odd sequence of events I appear to have become a part-time mature student, and I’ll have to live as long as Methuselah if I’m going to reap the benefits. It’s like those people I’ve seen enter the rooms with rhinophyma and the beginnings of wet-brain; you just want to tap them on the shoulder and advise them to finish themselves off with a stiff whisky bottle or sixty, because all the new found resolve and all the penitence in the world isn’t going to turn things around for them at this stage. Well that’s what the little judgemental voice in me says, and I remind myself to wind my neck back in. I’m hopefully not past re-educating, and it’s not like I haven’t kept my brain ticking over, but it’s actually a two-pronged assault on the cerebral cortex as I try to maintain freelancing and being a lousy house husband as the core duties I flail at on a daily basis.

I’m studying French for four hours in the evening at an ecole des petites filles near my favourite sports bar off Richard Lenoir, and I’m taking a 150 hour TEFL course at home which I’ve just started online. Who knew there were all these tenses? I now know what “modal verbs” and “prepositions” and “conjunctions” are, though I’m not very happy about the formulas they keep presenting:

Formula – subject + will + bare infinitive + complement / subject + to be + going to + bare infinitive + complement

What’s that about? Do I have to remember such things? One hopes not. I’ve been ploughing through today and just stopped shy of my first test. Hey, was that sentence I just said the present perfect progressive tense? Answers on a postcard (or down in the comments) and I certainly hope so otherwise I’ve probably been wasting my time all day. In the time it took to write this paragraph, I’ve now forgotten what ‘prepositions’ and ‘conjunctions’ are, and it makes me wonder what I did with myself at school. It would be understandable if I’d been popular.
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At the school where we are studing now, they don’t speak any English at all, which is understandable given that we’re in France and the pupils come from Poland and South America and the Middle East and New Zealand as well as England. At first I was terrified by my lack of comprehension and kept thinking I might get moved down a set, though I still seem to be there, floundering. There are students in my class who are definitely a lot better than I am, and the schadenfreudian (is that a word, I hope so) in me cries out inwardly when one of my dear students pronounces a word incorrectly and gets picked on by miss; as I only seem to pick up about 50% of what’s being said, I feel it important to celebrate when others pratfall.

I suppose given that my comprehension was closer to 20% overall in the first lesson I should start celebrating the positives as somebody slowly turns the radio up. One of those factors that I should look upon as a positive is the fact that actually being dragged out of my comfort zone is making me work harder, if only because I know I’m going to be asked something at some point in the lesson, and I if I’m not prepared then I may well look like a complete anus in front of everyone. It’s all the motivation I need.

I like the idea of learning a language via the Suggestopedia method which I was reading about this morning. Developed by Georgi Lozanov in 1979, it involves sitting around on beanbags or comfy armchairs listening to baroque music while a benevolent tutor with a soothing voice speaks to you in the language as you behave “as pliable, suggestible children, regarding one’s teacher as a super-mentor parental figure”. It sounds more like therapy to me and I tried to recreate these circumstances today by listening to Radio Chopin and eating all of Claire’s biscuits, though I realise a more communicative approach with maybe some whipping is definitely the way to go where I’m concerned. Tough love is the only way forward, and the biscuits may take some explaining.

Claire is doing the same French course as me (she’s in the set above) so we have to go to school together. It’s quite an odd experience walking down the school corridor holding hands with a looker like her, and I feel like I should maybe take up smoking again just so I can complete the illusion I’m one of the cool kids. Then I head into my lesson and sit down on a child’s chair, Claudine scrawls “demander des renseignements” on the blackboard, and the fear of humiliation that was such a feature of teenage life starts coursing through me once again.

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2 Responses to Étudiant Grant

  1. John says:

    Wotcha, dunno how to introduce myself but I guess I’m “lost” from the old playlouder boards and a few emails I sent years ago. I’ll teach you French over Skype for UK minimum wage via paypal. Got enough time on my hands. I’m a bit rusty these days but once upon a time I was pretty damn fluent and I still read Baudelaire and that. Loving the Benjamin Choos (sic possibly) stuff I got into after reading this blog (?) a while ago.

    • jeres says:

      Thanks John, much appreciated. I think I’ve got it covered for now, and I’m actually suddenly really busy and not sure where I’m going to fit thw time for studying in, but maybe I’m just having a good week (work wise). Benjamin has got a new record coming out and what I’ve heard so far of the new stuff is really ace. He’s just done his website up as well: http://www.benjaminschoos.co.uk/ and I believe he’s in Blackpool this week shooting the new video. As for the lesson idea, thanks for the offer – I’ll keep it in mind. If I start earning minimum wage myself then you never know! Cheers man

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