French teacher

On Friday, when I locked my classroom door, I completed 26 years of teaching French in Chappaqua, New York. Although Spanish is still more popular (and I teach that as well), we have a large group of French students who begin at age 10. Most of them continue their studies through high school and beyond.I am passionate about all things French. I am American, but was educated at the Lycée Français. I have lived and studied in France and Switzerland.What interests me most on this page is your effort in promoting the study of French. When I hear "Spanish is more useful" I cringe. To tell the truth, the fact that I speak French has opened more doors for me than Spanish ever will.I would like to receive your input on how to convey to parents that if a child wishes to study French, they should not be dissuaded by "pop thinking".
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  • Et oui, moi aussi je suis prof. de français et j'entends le même refrain: "l'espagnol est plus utile". Je connais beaucoup d'enfants qui auraient voulu étudier le français mais dont les parents ont dit:"ce sera l'espagnol!"
    Les gens oublient qu'il y a un lien historique entre l'anglais et le français et, comme l'a dit Claudine, beaucoup de mots anglais viennent du français. En fait, à peu près 35% du vocabulaire anglais vient tout droit du français, ce qui est énorme.
    Moi, comme je suis également musicien, j'utilise de nombreuses chansons francophones et les élèves adorent. Ça les encourage à persévérer.
  • Hi,
    Je suis du meme avis que vous, le francais ouvre un monde beaucoup plus merveilleux que l'espagnol. Je parle aussi l'espagnol mais je ne l'enseigne pas.
    Ici, quand on pense bilingue, on pense l'espagnol parce que c'est la langue dominante d'une plus grande de toutes les minorites. Pour avoir enseigner le francais au niveau moyen cette annee, (c'est ma premiere annee d'enseignement) mes reflexions se portent sur le fait que le francais demande une certaine disposition intellectuelle et la volonte de faire un peu plus d'efforts pour percer dans un monde francophone qui peut etre n'etait pas a la portee de mes eleves. Mes eleves du district 5 avaient d'autres lacunes et pensaient que l'espagnol serait mieux a leur portee et leur profiterait beaucoup plus que le francais.
    Je ne suis pas decouragee et j'entends continuer a enseigner le francais et l'anglais pour beaucoup d'annees.
    Any suggestions on classroom management while teaching French is welcome.

    Claudine, bien dit.
    Merci pour votre input.
    Mes felicitations et a bientot.
    Tiza
  • Claudine, you make great points, but by that time, the students are already the ones IN your class. In my experience, it is the parents who discourage the kids (don't forget that I am talking about parents of 10 year olds). Another example is that "after-school enrichment" programs in local elementary schools offer only Spanish, and it is taught by parents. After a whole day in the classroom, I can't teach those as well! Where are the parents who majored in French? We need to appeal to them so that there can be a realistic choice offered to children. No one should be discouraged from a choice of language for any reason!
  • I usually give my students facts about the usefulness and visibility of French right here in NY in respect to the rest of the world. My favorite examples are French being the official language of the UN and at the Olympic Games. Then I make the French connection to high fashion/perfumes; cuisine/wine and to some extent tourism. I also point out the amount of French words in the English language and how helpful it is for standardized tests and higher education overall.
  • If a child is motivated to learn a language, any language, they should be encouraged and they should be exposed to native speakers of that language. I learned some Spanish and French in school in the US and hated both. When I went ot Mexico as a college student and France a little later for 3 months or more I saw things very differently. I interacted with the native people and lived with other students in those countries. Today I speak both French and Spanish fluently, and I am now learning Italian, mostly through my own efforts to study and converse with native speakers. Once I became accostomed to speaking and thinking in another language and culture, I loved it and it doesn't matter what language I speak, I enjoy them and use them all regularly conversing with friends both in the US and abroad and I am now using both languages at work as well.
  • My mom also was a dedicated French teacher. I can hear her cheering you on...
  • I would agree with you. I usually have to be careful not to sound too elitist when I discourage Spanish but I must admit that I tell students that they will encounter far more French literature, painting, cuisine & fashion in the world than Spanish and that people in general are always more impressed if you speak French than Spanish. I remind them of all the countries that France had colonized in the past that still share that heritage and the pivotal role that France played in world politics from Caesar's conquest to World War 2. I find that parents are perfectly happy if their daughters take French but they seem to be less enthusiastic when their sons do. I run a French exchange every other year to Lyon and every student who's ever gone says that it changed their lives and how they understood the world. Their parents always thank me immensely. When people comment that Spanish is more useful I ask them where they expect to use it? That usually triggers some reflection and they begin to see what I mean. We do what we can, n'est-ce pas!
    Joan Bonnell- Hopewell Valley high school, Pennington, NJ
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