School: Good news and bad news
I've been thinking for a long time what to write about school. There are good things and bad things to write, I could boast, or I could make a total twit of myself.
I've decided to take the most unbiased approach I can. I will state some facts, then I will boast a little bit, and at the end I will entertain you with some practical insights into my every day school life, and how you can make a fool of yourself a few times a day. Unintentionally.
In my previous post I mentioned that I have 16 hours of French a week, and that I start at 7 in the morning, and finish at 3 or 4 in the afternoon.
True: I do have 16 hours of French a week. Tuesdays are devoted entirely to French lessons.
False: School is not that harsh. Some days start at 7 and end at 1, and others start at 9 and end at 4. On average school is probably 6 or 7 hours long a day.
The annoying thing is that one day I wake up at 6, and the next I wake up at 8. School isn't regular like in England. For example on Tuesday I start at 8:30 and end at 3:05, and on Wednesday I start at 7:45 but end at 12.
Another difference to England is that at lunch you are allowed to go HOME. Yes that's right. Some days have a short 45 min lunch, and others have a 1 and a half hour. During this time you are allowed off school grounds. (The best part is some days finish at lunch)
Some French teachers are very strict. They shout at you for no obvious reason. They give you one thing to do and an hour later they shout at you again, take it away from you, and make you do something else.
I decided I need to take this at this point of my life and do what they ask me to do with no complains and no comments.
This is almost like putting your personality in the bottom drawer and you let everybody else take over your life. It's not an easy thing to do. I've got so much to say during the lesson and to the boys who sit around me, or do PE with me, or who swim with me.
And I can't say anything.
Now you think "he is learning French, how come he can't say anything?"
You are right. I can say what my name is, how old I am, and where I came from. And I already told them that. I think it's time I started to teach them English.
Honestly it's a business language, internet language, an all-around-the-world language, how can someone be so ignorant? It's a beautiful language with simple rules. That reminds me.
They aren't taught English in my class. The bad news for me is instead of learning English, in French part of Switzerland it is compulsory to learn German, and logically in the German part of Switzerland, it is compulsory to learn French.
Good news: there are some rumours, and this is good news for me, that German Switzerland will drop French, and may teach English instead, and French Switzerland may drop German, and may teach English instead.
This will in my opinion create such a mess that the best thing to do will be to learn all of these languages, and I'm on my way!
My mum and dad said by the time Christmas comes I will be more fluent than my 23 year old sister who did French A level. I believe them.
In my first week of school I have learnt some important rules. I have started putting together sentences using C'est and est-ce, and I have started learning French Verbs.
French Verbs are tough. Let me give you an example.
In English you would say : He is French. They are French. We are French.
In French the verb "to be" (être) changes when talking about a different people. So,
You would say:
Ils est français. Vous êtes français. Nous sommes français.
He is French. They are French. We are French.
And I was told you need "to be" in all its forms to create past. But I didn't get there yet.
I've never realised how important language is to your existence. If you don't speak the language, then people will ignore you.
If you go up to a French person and say "Je ne parle pas français" (I do not speak French) they will ignore you.
The trick: If you say "Je parle un peu français" (I speak a little French) they will at least try to converse with you.
My experience at school is that if you say you do not speak French in French, they say you speak well enough, and treat you like you are fluent.
This can get to you. You feel inadequate and isolated. You can feel worse, but lets not go into it. The only thing you can do at this point, is keep learning French. It's this simple. You learn a bit every day, and you get closer to your classmates every day, and you get closer to understanding teachers every day. Just don't ask how long it will take until you get there. It may take years (possible forever).
I promised you funny bits, and I will have to leave them for my next post.
They are actually not funny, but they may be entertaining for somebody who didn't experience the situation.
So please stay tuned and I will come back to you.
I have a new video available on www.youtube.com/MediaByMasterM. It's a short trailer video of Gruyere, a famous cheese-making town in Switzerland.
UPDATE: Hi. It's me 3 years later (September 2015). The full video won't be coming out after all. The trailer is all there is. Hopefully I'll compensate for this by making some new ones. Wish me luck!