What is this? An actual blog post? Why, yes it is! Brought back by (surprisingly) popular demand! Hopefully from this point on I continue on my original course! Quite!
In any case, I shall begin with Sunday. I know there of some (if not many) of you who think it…imperative to argue that it is actually Monday that begins the week since Sat.-Sun. comprise what we call the weekend. However, since I am a staunch believer in American English, all I have to say to you is this is my blog and neener-neener. 😜
As crazy as it may sound, I spent about eight hours straight conversing completely in Japanese on Sunday. While Lutheran church services offered in Japanese certainly only entices a niche group of people, those that attend mass at the パリ・プロテスタント日本語キリスト教会 (Eng. Paris-Protestant Japanese Language Church of Christ) are quite the tight-knit bunch! The youth, as I may have said before, are about my age and mostly study at music conservatories in Paris, while others study international economics. They are really funny and open; something I presumed was due to their young age. We met at the service at 2:00, went to the 青年会 (Eng. youth gathering) where we had tea and talked about our journeys of faith, and then ended by eating dinner together at a Chinese restaurant by 10:00. It tested my skills, but all-in-all I did fine and they were very surprised to see I spoke well and even had some Japanese mannerisms down. That was only the second time I’ve gone, and I hope to continue going and integrate even further in the community there!
Monday presented me my first encounter with the French educational system, particularly that of English education. I am to work from 9-12:00 au collège Jean Moulin, a middle school made up of 10-14 year-olds, where I take part in three classes as an English assistant. My first class consists of 13-14 year-olds in the 4th level, my second has 11-12 year olds in the 5th level, and my last is 10-11 year-olds in the 6th level. The way language education works in France is not necessarily straight-forward for Americans: the English levels are from six to one, where the higher number indicates the lower the level.
So I start out with children who understand a lot more than my later ones, both which are beginner level courses. In all three, it’s a mix; that is to say, the actual performance level of the students varies based on previous experience. Some students come in with little to no experience, others advanced or even fluent! Such a variety in one class, especially the beginner courses, has led to challenges among the class. At the core, the French education system advocates equal opportunity, but does not always allow all students to receive the correct level of teaching they may require. But, that is only an observation- I have yet to see how my time there continues! The children are (for the most part) very sweet and receptive to my presence, so I can only hope it goes on like that!
By the middle of the week, I am in classes and getting into readings and homework. Not the most spectacular thing, but there is one thing I’m starting to look forward to: the cinema. For some inexplicable reason, Wednesday is the day for movies to come out in France, and there always seems to be new ones being released! It’s true what they say, the French love to go au cinoche (a little bit of French slang from the 80’s that always gets me funny looks when I use it, but I love it anyway)! Paris houses not only immense movie theaters showing the latest hits, but also smaller, local theaters that choose to show cult classics, foreign films, historic cinema, you name it! And with a student discount for those under 28 (it remains unbeknownst to me why that is the age limit), there really is no reason to enjoy a good film. As such, I decided to finally watch Deux Moi, a movie I had been wanting to watch for about two weeks since it was being advertised everywhere; like, everywhere. After watching it, I found I liked it and made me laugh (for ’twas a rom-com), but it made me realize European sensibilities prefer a slow simmer of a payoff rather than quick-to-boil, like most American comedies. Nevertheless, I still quite fancied it!
All in all, for the beginning of my time in France it has been full of new experiences, in a world of French, but also the diversity that hides itself within the capital: people from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and anywhere else you can think of live and have made their own in this very city! As a result, I not only get to hear one language but a myriad of linguistic input that makes my brain tingle with curiosity (more so when I actually understand the language). We’ll see how my time goes from here! Best of luck to me, I suppose!
Gabriel Alejandro González Alemán
Ambassador of the League of Linguists to France
Ambassadeur de la Ligue des linguistes en France