Thursday, September 29, 2011

Zis is ow to speek english

We were talking at the dinner table this evening about accents and the fact that the French find it difficult to pronounce the sound ‘th’.  I asked my 9 year old son if his teacher ever got him to speak during their English lessons to help the others know how to pronounce the words properly.

'No, the teacher tells us what to say.'
            ‘Well at least when you repeat it they’ll hear how to say it properly.’ I reasoned.
            ‘No, I say it with the same accent as the teacher.’
            I found this quite funny, well really funny actually.  Sorry but imagining him ‘speeeking like zis’ in class just tickled me. When I stopped laughing I asked ‘Why on earth do you do that?’ 
            ‘Because that’s the way they teach us to speak English.’

Although I did find it funny, there is a more serious side.  This simple answer speaks volumes about a fundamental flaw with teaching practices in many French schools.  Children generally are not encouraged to think for themselves or question what they are taught.  It explains a lot about some attitudes in France.  Many times I’ve been frustrated when confronted by situations where functionaries seem unable to think outside the box.  It’s done this way, because it is, and that’s the way it’s always been done!  Or am I putting 2 and 2 together and making 5?

Anyway, now I'm off to make a chocolate cake for my little girl who's 4 years old tomorrow :)


  1. Interesting. It does explain a fair amount about the French culture though!

  2. Our son did exactly the same thing in primarie - he doesn't like being different so wanted to sound the same as the others! Now in college the English teacher is using the UK kids to help 'animate' the lessons which is brilliant. The school also have a programme in place that I have been running for 2 years where native English speakers come in and have a conversation club with 10 kids at a time to help with pronunciation - oddly enough the kids love it!!!!

  3. Yes I found it interesting too Livi, but on reflection maybe it was more to do with him not liking to be different like Jacqui's son.
    It's good that your sons' English teacher uses the UK kids in class Jacqui - it's great when that happens. Too many English teachers seem to feel threatened by native English speakers in the class (see my post "The Trouble with English Teachers in France"). The conversation club sounds like a a great idea. Nice to see some schools capitalising on the fact that there are so many native English speakers around.

  4. Wow. Thats really intersting. I teach up north and am constantly amazed at the simple errors the kids make when learning sounds. The word 'her' is often mistaken for hair!
    Great post though, I love the thought of the kids speaking like extras in Allo Allo!

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