16 July 2010

Strictly Educational Update

So I figured since the whole "purpose" of this trip to France was to further my education and practice my French skills, I should probably update on here about my educational experience in Paris thus far because it's true - it hasn't been all fun and games!

The educational system here is very different from the U.S.  The most difficult change to comprehend is the "every student is special/learning differences" concept we rely on so heavily at home, and the "every student is here to learn and will learn the same/figure it out on their own if they are confused" mentality here.  It's not that the instructors are cold or indifferent to students succeeding, they just go about it a different way.  My French langue instructor is actually incredibly nice and really helpful when we are confused, she is constantly asking if we comprende, and if we don't, she tries her best to explain what she is saying with hand gestures and pictures.  None of my teachers allow any English (or other foreign language) to be spoken in the classroom, which is great because it challenges us to adapt very quickly to the French language, but also difficult when we are lost or confused with the material.

My school schedule consists of a French language class Monday through Friday from 9am to noon, then a Tuesday oral workshop from 2pm to 5pm, and a Thursday phonetics workshop from 2pm to 5pm.  By 5pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays I feel completely worn out - listening to French for 6 hours a day is tough, and definitely a mental work out.  Monday, Wednesday & Fridays are not so bad though, a three hour morning class then the rest of the day to explore/nap/eat and do whatever we feel like doing.  API has also freed up our schedules quite a bit now that we are in the swing of things with school and housing, so we have less "excursions" and tourist-y things to do, which has been nice (although we did visit the Tour de Eiffel yesterday).

I have three different teachers and they are all women.  They all speak French as their first language, and two of them also speak English.  Dominique is my French language professor, so I see her 5 days a week, and I really enjoy her class.  Fabien is my Tuesday afternoon oral instructor, and she seems nice enough, I've only had her class once so I'm not quite sure if her teaching style is like Dominique's or like the more "serieux" professors at the Catho, but I think an oral workshop is easier than the language class regardless.  My professor for Thursday's phoentics workshop is named Marienne, and is a total nut job!  Her job is to make sure we are sounding out vowels/words/letters correctly, and that is exactly (literally) what she does.  If you make the incorrect sound when it's your turn to speak, she comes up to where you are sitting and pinches your cheeks/lips to the proper position to get the sound that you want to come out.  She's a bit scary to be honest.  She also weighs roughly 95 pounds and wears heels every day.

I'm not sure what else to update about school-wise, we're 2 weeks in with 2 weeks left and time is seriously flying by.  Hopefully my French skills are improving!  I feel like I am much more comfortable ordering food/coffee or speaking to strangers than I was when I first arrived here, which makes the day to day things a bit easier.  I also understand spoken French much better than I did just a few weeks ago, and can read most billboard/flyers/posters I see around town and in the Metro stops.  Maybe I'll be fluent when I come back, I mean that's probably what's going to happen.  Obviously.

Going to see a museum now, haven't decided which one.  We get in for free with our French student identification cards, which is great.  Au revoir!

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