I teach French.

I will never cure cancer. I will never be the first female president. I will not argue essential court cases or invent a new car. I won’t make enough money to have multiple houses or get involved in inside trader scandals. If I ever write a book, very few people will be interested enough to read it.

I teach French.

I’m ok that most people don’t really see a point in learning French, and many see language education as a special class akin to PE or art. They’re wrong, but I get it. Why would people want to learn a language that only comprises one of the most essential languages of international commerce and trade, birthed a whole lot of the western cannon of literature, theory, philosophy, and art, and is spoken on every single continent? I get it.

But you know what? I love what I do. I love the books that I read, and even though I hate taking tests, I love that I am pursuing degrees that will help me teach MORE FRENCH to MORE PEOPLE. Because what more wonderful task is there than equipping students to see a different world by giving them access to a different language?

And you know what else? I get to love what I do. Especially when I taught high school, but even still with college, I get to go in to a room of sleepy students and BLOW THEIR MINDS with knowledge, or at least overwhelm them with how much they don’t know. And it’s awesome, because they only understand about 63% of what I say so I can kind of have a party up there in the front by myself.  Sometimes they try to respond, and their French is so crippled that they make horrible mistakes and accidentally say wildly inappropriate things that entertain me the rest of the day.

Sometimes, I even traumatize them with learning songs like this one that I recorded with a colleague during our office hours, just so it could live on forever. And sometimes I smash their souls with depressing French poems because, you know, sometimes life is really awful and they need to know about it, and no one does “life is awful” with more class than those French.

Sometimes though, they do get it, and I see them get it, and they realize… wait a minute, there’s more to life than me, more to the world than America. And then their own world opens up a little more, their souls open up a little more.

So yeah, I teach French. And a lot of people don’t think it matters, but it does to me.


*images from here and here.

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12 Responses to I teach French.

  1. Elsa says:

    So, French Teacher, is there any software/books you would recommend for someone who is looking to brush up her very beginner French skills? I know it would be better to take a real class or find a conversation group, but that’s not in the cards right now.

    • Hannah says:

      Hmm…. this is hard because so much of language learning (in my opinion) is tied to communicating with other people. But, there are still some good resources. There are lots of good books out there that you could just buy and work through. We use one called Chez Nous, that you could try to find with the CDs of all the activities and work through it. Additionally, the BBC does online free language tutorials/lessons that a colleague told me are pretty good. You can find them here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/

      Best of luck!

  2. Heidi says:

    Maybe it’s morbid, but I’m sort of glad that you see the same problems with college students that I see with middle school students. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    Also, languages should rank up there with math and literature and science, to me. How in the world would the world still exist if people didn’t learn to communicate? And how will it continue to exist if people don’t keep learning? Taking a look at international relationships, I’d say that having a language teacher laugh in your face for stupid mistakes would be a very valuable experience (I have had many of these experiences) for quite a few politicians….

    • Hannah says:

      If anything, college students are more responsible, but less engaged… so it’s kind of a trade off.

      And thank you — glad someone else thinks communication is essential!!! : )

  3. les88 says:

    You should just speak french around me. Then I might learn! No more english. This might be difficult.

  4. bkjergaard says:

    I feel the same way when I talk about my job. I actually tend to feel guilty about loving my job as much as I do. Learning a second language is so valuable in other ways too. It helps kids think logically, and it helps them understand their own language so much better! Keep up the good work, friend!

    • Hannah says:

      Teachers really do have the most fun. Of course, even within the realm of fun jobs, I kind of feel like yours might be the very most fun, since you go to be Marie Antoinette for a whole week!!!

  5. Janah James says:

    I love French and love learning it. Check out my response to this post: http://agnuslupus.blogspot.com/2013/02/i-learn-french.html

  6. Pingback: I want it to matter. | The Art in Life

  7. Pingback: The difference between college and grad school. | The Art in Life

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