American Parkour Forum

Not Parkour or Freerunning => Socialize => Topic started by: Zooomz on February 10, 2009, 04:54:17 PM

Title: French?
Post by: Zooomz on February 10, 2009, 04:54:17 PM
So how much French has everybody learned doing Parkour? I know some people already know French, but I think I've actually learned a little from the basic Parkour terms. If anyone saw Jeopardy tonight, a question was asked about ballet. It was about "something de chat" and what animal it got its name from and I knew (guessed) it was cat. (Well, maybe they are cognates, but meh...)

Anyway, how has Parkour added to your knowledge of French? Has it influenced you to take French in High School/College/on your own? Has Parkour somehow led you to learning any other languages (like travelling overseas to other countries)?
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Dan Frank on February 10, 2009, 05:09:08 PM
Well, I've always wanted to go to France... now I just want to go more, and visit Lisses while I'm there. I already speak enough French to hold a conversation with a French person though.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Dustin Smith on February 10, 2009, 07:01:05 PM
actually im trying to teach myself(it isnt working) but as soon as i get a job im totally buying Rosetta stone
Title: Re: French?
Post by: TraceuseDS on February 10, 2009, 09:11:26 PM
Umm, it's helping me to not forget the little bit I learned in high school and college. Does that count?
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Greg Davis on February 10, 2009, 09:16:41 PM
It's making me forget my terrible German experience... worst 4 years of a foreign language EVER. I would not suggest it. Anyway, I have learned such things as lache (i think i know what it means ha)
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Brandan Mendenhall on February 11, 2009, 07:58:41 AM
It's making me forget my terrible German experience... worst 4 years of a foreign language EVER. I would not suggest it. Anyway, I have learned such things as lache (i think i know what it means ha)

German is amazing, why wouldn't you recommend it?


But Zooomz, that's really cool that you were able to pick up on that and make the connection. Props to you! Maybe you should start studying the language more in-depth? Being bi-lingual--in any other language--is awesome, trust me.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Dan Frank on February 11, 2009, 12:42:59 PM
German is amazing, why wouldn't you recommend it?

He probably had a bad experience with his teachers. Foreign language education in American public schools is absolute crap, it seems (in my experience and observations). I learned more from just speaking at home with my parents, watching movies, and reading books in French. I suppose I got the concepts at school, but no useful practice or application due to the crap curriculum.

And all my friends complain about all of their Spanish teachers. It's just ridiculous that the most America, the most diversely connected country in the world, has such crappy inter-cultural connections.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Brandan Mendenhall on February 11, 2009, 01:33:35 PM
German is amazing, why wouldn't you recommend it?

He probably had a bad experience with his teachers. Foreign language education in American public schools is absolute crap, it seems (in my experience and observations). I learned more from just speaking at home with my parents, watching movies, and reading books in French. I suppose I got the concepts at school, but no useful practice or application due to the crap curriculum.

And all my friends complain about all of their Spanish teachers. It's just ridiculous that the most America, the most diversely connected country in the world, has such crappy inter-cultural connections.

Indeed. The problem with most foreign language classes is the teachers don't spend enough time on actual conversation or speaking practice. It's usually just: memorize this, do this worksheet, take this test, repeat. It's just not all that constructive for real life application. That's probably why you learned more with your parents and watching movies, etc. While memorizing vocab is essential as well, actually hearing the language, and responding (or even attempting to) is much more productive.

It could be that he just had a tough time with the language, though, and thus with the class as well, regardless of curriculum. I do love German, but it's not exactly the easiest.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Jacob Wood on February 11, 2009, 05:33:40 PM
German is amazing, why wouldn't you recommend it?

He probably had a bad experience with his teachers. Foreign language education in American public schools is absolute crap, it seems (in my experience and observations). I learned more from just speaking at home with my parents, watching movies, and reading books in French. I suppose I got the concepts at school, but no useful practice or application due to the crap curriculum.

And all my friends complain about all of their Spanish teachers. It's just ridiculous that the most America, the most diversely connected country in the world, has such crappy inter-cultural connections.

Indeed. The problem with most foreign language classes is the teachers don't spend enough time on actual conversation or speaking practice. It's usually just: memorize this, do this worksheet, take this test, repeat. It's just not all that constructive for real life application. That's probably why you learned more with your parents and watching movies, etc. While memorizing vocab is essential as well, actually hearing the language, and responding (or even attempting to) is much more productive.

It could be that he just had a tough time with the language, though, and thus with the class as well, regardless of curriculum. I do love German, but it's not exactly the easiest.

actually Spanish at my high school is great (one of the only ones that is) we have two teachers, ones from Columbia south America, and the other is Puerta Rican. Spanish is there first language so even though there English is not perfect ive learned a lot of Spanish so far.  oh and yes im thinking about taking french too next year
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Rebecca Myers on February 11, 2009, 06:34:37 PM
German is amazing, why wouldn't you recommend it?

He probably had a bad experience with his teachers. Foreign language education in American public schools is absolute crap, it seems (in my experience and observations). I learned more from just speaking at home with my parents, watching movies, and reading books in French. I suppose I got the concepts at school, but no useful practice or application due to the crap curriculum.

And all my friends complain about all of their Spanish teachers. It's just ridiculous that the most America, the most diversely connected country in the world, has such crappy inter-cultural connections.

Indeed. The problem with most foreign language classes is the teachers don't spend enough time on actual conversation or speaking practice. It's usually just: memorize this, do this worksheet, take this test, repeat. It's just not all that constructive for real life application. That's probably why you learned more with your parents and watching movies, etc. While memorizing vocab is essential as well, actually hearing the language, and responding (or even attempting to) is much more productive.

It could be that he just had a tough time with the language, though, and thus with the class as well, regardless of curriculum. I do love German, but it's not exactly the easiest.

actually Spanish at my high school is great (one of the only ones that is) we have two teachers, ones from Columbia south America, and the other is Puerta Rican. Spanish is there first language so even though there English is not perfect ive learned a lot of Spanish so far.  oh and yes im thinking about taking french too next year

Brendan hit the nail on the head perfectly. I love German, although the four cases make it really confusing. For a few years I had a teacher who was actually FROM germany. Loved her. Now? American-born, not that there is anything wrong with that, but she's a whack job. Message me if you really want to know the stories.

Ich liebe Deutch, Deutschland, und Deutscher. :)
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Brandan Mendenhall on February 12, 2009, 07:30:41 AM

actually Spanish at my high school is great (one of the only ones that is) we have two teachers, ones from Columbia south America, and the other is Puerta Rican. Spanish is there first language so even though there English is not perfect ive learned a lot of Spanish so far.  oh and yes im thinking about taking french too next year

Right, so they were native speakers. Which means you probably had more direct exposure to actual spoken words than most kids, and that's great. That's why my Japanese classes went so well; my teacher was natvie Okinawan.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: pk_huissen on February 12, 2009, 07:41:50 AM
haha well I am a student from Holland and because I live in Holland I get taught french at school:)
I'm now in my 3rd year of french and I can understand the most things said but can not reply yet:) well, reply in a good way yet...
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Greg Davis on February 12, 2009, 08:17:45 AM
Actually the style of teaching wasn't bad, most of the time we had to get into groups and come up with skits and scenarios. There was hardly any writing in the fourth year. You're right about the teacher though, this sounds childish but she had it out for me. Even my parents noticed by the end. Even if i did do my work (granted I gave up on that class at the end of the fourth year causing me to fail) she would give me a crap grade for no reason. Plus, when I failed the class, she held up my failure report, how low is that? She got yelled at by the principal about 5 times that year, ha
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Brandan Mendenhall on February 12, 2009, 09:41:55 AM
Actually the style of teaching wasn't bad, most of the time we had to get into groups and come up with skits and scenarios. There was hardly any writing in the fourth year. You're right about the teacher though, this sounds childish but she had it out for me. Even my parents noticed by the end. Even if i did do my work (granted I gave up on that class at the end of the fourth year causing me to fail) she would give me a crap grade for no reason. Plus, when I failed the class, she held up my failure report, how low is that? She got yelled at by the principal about 5 times that year, ha

Yeah man, that's messed up :-\. There will always be those bad eggs in the teaching community, unfortunately. I had a science teacher like that in 7th grade. She taught Earth Science, and one day one of her pumice rocks went missing, and she held us after class for over an hour, saying we couldn't leave until someone coughed it up. We were the last class of the day, and all of us missed our bus ride home because of that; she eventually let us go when she found her rock in one of the sinks, saying, "Oh, now I remember putting it there!"

She also called us stupid all the time. Pretty sure she got fired a couple years later lol.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Spencer B on February 12, 2009, 02:50:12 PM
Wow... When Muse sees this topic, she'll freak...
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Zooomz on February 12, 2009, 03:23:23 PM
It's making me forget my terrible German experience... worst 4 years of a foreign language EVER. I would not suggest it. Anyway, I have learned such things as lache (i think i know what it means ha)

German is amazing, why wouldn't you recommend it?


But Zooomz, that's really cool that you were able to pick up on that and make the connection. Props to you! Maybe you should start studying the language more in-depth? Being bi-lingual--in any other language--is awesome, trust me.

I would try to learn French, but after 4  years of Spanish (5 counting next year) I want to learn a non-romance/Germanic language. In my opinion learning a language at high school depends on who your teacher is. I've had some pretty good teachers so far, so I can't really complain. What I would agree with is the lack of practicing the language. We do some, but the focus is more on learning the vocab and reading literature now (though most people are just sitting through).

Brandan, if I had missed my bus and she found the rock I would raise ... trouble. That's just... Ugh.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Dan Frank on February 13, 2009, 05:03:57 PM
Right, so they were native speakers. Which means you probably had more direct exposure to actual spoken words than most kids, and that's great. That's why my Japanese classes went so well; my teacher was natvie Okinawan.

Native speakers are good, but it's no guarantee of their teaching ability. I've had several french teachers over the past three years (more than three; I think I've had 5 or 6 teachers) and the best two were non-native speakers, but they were the best at teaching. All the rest were native speakers, from diverse backgrounds (one from Senegal, one from Cameroon, one from Belgium, and one from... Mexico. That one didn't speak a word of French, actually. She wasn't even fluent in English either; I have no idea how she got the job.)...  but I learned next to nothing from them, except for the one this year, who is from Belgium. But she is still not as good as the two American teachers were.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Alissa J. Bratz on February 13, 2009, 05:28:25 PM
Hehe. This thread makes me chuckle.

:)

Title: Re: French?
Post by: b5200 on February 13, 2009, 06:34:05 PM
I'm teaching myself French and something that helps is nonsensical insults.  Tu frere est paresseux(might be a second r).
Title: Re: French?
Post by: TraceuseDS on February 13, 2009, 09:35:58 PM
I'm teaching myself French and something that helps is nonsensical insults.  Tu frere est paresseux(might be a second r).
I think that's right. :)

The insult thing is fun. My favorite was always "Va tu et faites cuire un oeuf." Not sure I got the right verb tense there, but it means "Go cook an egg!"
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Dan Frank on February 14, 2009, 09:28:29 AM
I'm teaching myself French and something that helps is nonsensical insults.  Tu frere est paresseux(might be a second r).
I think that's right. :)

The insult thing is fun. My favorite was always "Va tu et faites cuire un oeuf." Not sure I got the right verb tense there, but it means "Go cook an egg!"

Tu frere est parasseux? That means "You brother is lazy." You could say "Ton frere est parasseux," but that wouldn't be insulting or make much sense...

Va tu et faites cuire un oeuf? The verb agreements are all wrong, and it's posed like a question.  :P That would mean something like, "Do you go and do/make the cook an egg?" You wouldn't use faire and cuire right next to each other, and you wouldn't use vas-tu (which should have an s on the end) to tell someone to go do something.

It would be more like, "Cuit un oeuf!" The rest is unnecessary. It's still not an insult though....  :P
Title: Re: French?
Post by: b5200 on February 14, 2009, 09:36:04 AM
Well thanks for the french lesson but the insults are supposed to be not make sense or be very insulting.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Dan Frank on February 14, 2009, 06:32:13 PM
Well thanks for the french lesson but the insults are supposed to be not make sense or be very insulting.

Lol ok.

Indeed. The problem with most foreign language classes is the teachers don't spend enough time on actual conversation or speaking practice. It's usually just: memorize this, do this worksheet, take this test, repeat. It's just not all that constructive for real life application. That's probably why you learned more with your parents and watching movies, etc. While memorizing vocab is essential as well, actually hearing the language, and responding (or even attempting to) is much more productive.

It could be that he just had a tough time with the language, though, and thus with the class as well, regardless of curriculum. I do love German, but it's not exactly the easiest.

You hit the nail on the head here. That's exactly my complaint.

And German isn't easy? Maybe I'm just being pretentious, but I always thought it seemed pretty easy because the structure is very similar to English, and because there are so many exact cognates. I'm considering taking it next year instead of French, because I heard that the teacher is good, and I'm interested in German.

To be honest, I would much rather take Chinese or Japanese, but of course my school offers neither. Chinese should be the number one linguistic priority for American students. But apparently China really isn't such a big or powerful country after all, so maybe if we just hide in some corner and forget that it exists, then we won't need to talk to it, or any of the millions of Chinese that live in America.

Apologies for my cynicism.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Alissa J. Bratz on February 15, 2009, 10:20:05 AM
Indeed. The problem with most foreign language classes is the teachers don't spend enough time on actual conversation or speaking practice. It's usually just: memorize this, do this worksheet, take this test, repeat. It's just not all that constructive for real life application. That's probably why you learned more with your parents and watching movies, etc. While memorizing vocab is essential as well, actually hearing the language, and responding (or even attempting to) is much more productive.

It could be that he just had a tough time with the language, though, and thus with the class as well, regardless of curriculum. I do love German, but it's not exactly the easiest.

I caution you against making judgments about "most foreign language classes" unless you have observed the vast variety of teaching methods currently in use in this country. Making assumptions based on your personal limited experience is not a wise basis for formulating a judgment about anything. Come in and observe my class anytime:

http://gazettextra.com/news/2009/jan/26/parlez-vous-francais-milton-teachers-make-language/

To be honest, I would much rather take Chinese or Japanese, but of course my school offers neither. Chinese should be the number one linguistic priority for American students. But apparently China really isn't such a big or powerful country after all, so maybe if we just hide in some corner and forget that it exists, then we won't need to talk to it, or any of the millions of Chinese that live in America.

Apologies for my cynicism.

Your cynicism is understandable, but your logic is flawed. The number one linguistic priority for American students should be having a wide variety of languages to choose from, beginning in elementary school. Basing language policy decisions at public schools on current world events is a faulty practice.

It takes at least 10 years of concentrated study in another language to achieve communicative fluency (i.e. the kind where you could live in the country as an Average Joe). It takes far more to achieve the kind of fluency we would need for national security reasons etc. etc. It also takes about that time for a public school language program to get fully up to speed and start producing speakers in the kind of numbers we'd need for it to matter. And usually the world's linguistic priorities have shifted by the time that happens.

The reason there hasn't been much push behind the previous administration's push to get languages like Chinese and Arabic into public schools has been because the government is aware of the facts stated above. There was a whole study done on it, a federal task force from education, the military, and intelligence agencies; and what they found was that it's more important that kids learn how to learn a language, and develop a practical cultural/global awareness, so they are better equipped to learn critical languages rapidly if/when their lives require it. As such, it is more important that kids have a variety of languages to choose from, and that they are taught using robust methods that emphasize communicative and cultural competence over grammar. But the bottom line is that it is impossible to predict which languages will be the future "hot" ones to learn.

I can dig up a link to that study if you'd like.

As a speaker (to varying degrees of proficiency) of English, French, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, and German, and a reader of Italian and Portuguese on top of those, I can say with confidence that learning multiple secondary languages is vastly more beneficial than learning only one. So let's not narrow our view based on a reaction to current events.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Dan Frank on February 15, 2009, 11:30:03 AM
The reason there hasn't been much push behind the previous administration's push to get languages like Chinese and Arabic into public schools has been because the government is aware of the facts stated above. There was a whole study done on it, a federal task force from education, the military, and intelligence agencies; and what they found was that it's more important that kids learn how to learn a language, and develop a practical cultural/global awareness, so they are better equipped to learn critical languages rapidly if/when their lives require it. As such, it is more important that kids have a variety of languages to choose from, and that they are taught using robust methods that emphasize communicative and cultural competence over grammar. But the bottom line is that it is impossible to predict which languages will be the future "hot" ones to learn.

I don't think I would attribute the exclusion of languages like Chinese or Arabic solely to the government's knowledge of your logic. Perhaps Arabic, because the middle eastern world has become manifestly important only recently. But China is unarguably extremely important, and chances are it will continue to be as important for many generations to come. It's a very big, powerful country with billions of people, and who knows how many Chinese are living elsewhere in the world? I think this is more likely a case of neglect.

As for the practical linguistic and cultural awareness that the government has been working on, please tell me when it will be coming to any school systems near me. I attend public school in one of the wealthiest school systems in the U.S., and I haven't seen a damn ounce of anything remotely comparable to adequate education in foreign languages/studies (I'm getting precisely the opposite, actually. Grammar and isolated topics over linguistic competency. I don't think that several weeks of memorization in an occupations unit helped me communicate in French in any way, shape, or form, when we did it last year.) Maybe I'm just being bitter, and I don't know any numbers, but I doubt the implementation of effective programs in any significant quantity of American public schools, in any area of the U.S., just like Brandan M. said. Your class seems to be an isolated case.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Alissa J. Bratz on February 15, 2009, 12:05:05 PM
Oh, agreed that Chinese should be added into the rotation. I would love it if American schools could offer students a choice of 4 or 5 languages, at least. But that is pie in the sky. My argument "against" (and it was only sort of against) your claim about Chinese was simply a defense because I have seen lots of school districts toy with the idea of scrapping perfectly excellent language programs in favor of replacing them with Chinese (or other languages) as a result of knee-jerk reaction to world events. Add Chinese, by all means! Add Arabic, definitely! Add whatever you like--but not at the expense of other programs.

One more note about Chinese, just to be a Devil's Advocate... the second language most studied in the world is English. After that, it's French! So if you encounter a non-English speaker, no matter where he or she is from, try French! It may be the common link that enables you to communicate. (That's just my French-teacher bias coming out; that statistic may have changed in the last 5 years or so). ;)

The question of practical/communicative/cultural instruction vs. grammar/vocabulary-based instruction is an issue of legacy systems vs. up-and-coming systems. For decades the grammar-and-vocab idea was the "proven" method for teaching language. This also took root during a time when learning a second language was seen as something only for the intellectual elite, back in a time when most HS kids didn't go to college.

Of course times have changed drastically and as such the need for language instruction in the US is massive. Everyone should learn at least one other language, whether they are college-bound or not, because the world is so interconnected now. The problem is, it takes a long time for those changes to take effect.

There are actual national standards on language teaching that are rooted in communicative competence ( http://www.actfl.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3392 ). These have been around for quite a while but the problem is, you have a whole system of teachers, teacher-training programs, textbook publishers, etc. that are steeped in the old way, and change takes a long time. If you can imagine a massive oil tanker changing its heading in the ocean, that's about what it is. Change takes a loooong time. My colleague has been teaching for over 15 years and she is really excited about teaching with communicative and cultural competence as the goal, but she readily admits she is struggling with how to implement it in her classroom. She has collaborated with me a lot and sends me a lot of her new units, etc. for feedback before implementing them on her students, because she recognizes that she is still learning how to move from theory to practice with this.

Having seen a share of language classrooms I would bet that there are a lot of teachers in the same boat, and quite a few who are of the "old way" and are reluctant to change at all.

I suspect we're closer in opinion on this than we think.

My advice to you, if you're in such a class and want your proficiency to improve, is to listen to and speak the target language as much as possible, in and out of class. Seek out opportunities to use the language--even just finding the daily news in streaming video on the internet and listening to it every day will help. Commit yourself to spending a whole day using only the target language (ideally on a weekend so your math and literature teachers aren't confused :) ). Don't sweat mistakes--the goal is to communicate, not to be perfect. Watch films in the target language, with and without subtitles. If you can, travel to a country where the target language is spoken and stay with a host family. Your teacher should have suggestions for how to do this even if he/she is not always on the ball with bringing those things into the classroom.

Lastly, in defense of your French teacher, unless you are at a very big school, your French teacher is probably the only French teacher in the building (or maybe is one of two). Which means he or she has to teach levels 1-5. That is very, very difficult, it's a lot of preps to handle and I can't say I blame your teacher for maybe taking shortcuts or teaching the "old" way. It is definitely easier on teachers to teach that way. I'm not making an excuse for it, just pointing out that there are other aspects to the situation that you may need to consider. In my previous position, I was the only French teacher and I taught levels 1-5, plus an AP course. I taught them the "new way" because that's how I was trained, but with all of those preps I was regularly at school until 11pm. Working 16-hour days for a full school year is pretty brutal, trust me.

:)

Title: Re: French?
Post by: Rebecca Myers on February 15, 2009, 04:18:34 PM
German can be very easy yet very hard.
1)It has four cases, which add up to 1 variations on the word THE.
2)Word order is very similar to English, except with conjunctions like weil.

My school just started offering Chinese. Japanese? I don't recommend it without a native speaker. I tried teaching myself, it was crazy hard. There are separate ways to talk about a cup on a table, depending on if it is closer to you or to me. Yea.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Dan Frank on February 15, 2009, 09:25:48 PM
German can be very easy yet very hard.
1)It has four cases, which add up to 1 variations on the word THE.
2)Word order is very similar to English, except with conjunctions like weil.

My school just started offering Chinese. Japanese? I don't recommend it without a native speaker. I tried teaching myself, it was crazy hard. There are separate ways to talk about a cup on a table, depending on if it is closer to you or to me. Yea.
1 variations? Do you mean four? And I concur kinda about the Japanese. I'm still teaching myself sporadically, whenever I have time between school, homework, parkour, and music. I'm not sure what you mean about the separate ways to talk about a cup on a table. Do you mean the difference between asoko, soko, and koko? Because we have that in English as well, to some extent.

There are actual national standards on language teaching that are rooted in communicative competence ( http://www.actfl.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3392 ). These have been around for quite a while but the problem is, you have a whole system of teachers, teacher-training programs, textbook publishers, etc. that are steeped in the old way, and change takes a long time. If you can imagine a massive oil tanker changing its heading in the ocean, that's about what it is. Change takes a loooong time. My colleague has been teaching for over 15 years and she is really excited about teaching with communicative and cultural competence as the goal, but she readily admits she is struggling with how to implement it in her classroom. She has collaborated with me a lot and sends me a lot of her new units, etc. for feedback before implementing them on her students, because she recognizes that she is still learning how to move from theory to practice with this.

Good read and good post there, Muse. I just have to say... this change should NOT take a long time. Things need to be re-prioritized in American education. The new Obama administration needs to do something about it. If change needs to happen in education, then it CAN and SHOULD happen as fast as possible. We have the means to do so. Screw funding for extraneous crap like Promethean Boards (which my school got at the cost of taxes and teachers' paychecks.... absolutely criminal,) and focus on the goddamned CURRICULUMS, America. There is no place for a bad teacher, and there is less of a place for a bad unit or curriculum. The problem seems to be mostly in foreign languages, but it's also there in non-staple courses (which is not really a tangible problem, I must admit, because there's no standard) and it's also there even in courses like history. I think that nationalized, or perhaps regionalized (because you can't really expect different students from different areas of the United States to perform on the same level) curriculums would make a lot more sense than the mumbo-jumbo that's being thrown together at the moment for language classes, and a couple of other courses.
I also think that world history should be stressed just as much, if not more than, US history. I just think about how I know absolutely nothing about any nation other than America, and it makes me ashamed to be so ethnocentric. Why don't I know anything about the formation of China? Why don't I know about the formation of the Soviet Union, or about its end? Why don't I know about anything that the UN has done since World War Two?
Another class that should be standardized and implemented is philosophy. We have it here, in the watered-down form of English class, but it's just not the same as they have it in France. If you asked me to name an important ethical topic of contemporary or past times on the spot, I don't think I could (well I guess I could, but how many of my peers could?). Recently, the french exchange students and their chaperon came and talked to us in my French class. It was not hard to tell, that though they were the same age as us, that their education was just on a totally different level. I felt pathetic, when I: a)didn't know enough French to communicate with them on whichever unorthodox topic came to my mind and b)when I just didn't know enough about the topics they were discussing to be a proper part of their discourse. I can see the same thing in many of the immigrants from Asian countries.

Yes, I imagine we are very close in opinion. One of the problems of discussion on forums is that you sound argumentative and contrary if you are trying to make or further a point.

Don't worry about my extracurricular French activity. I speak in French to my parents (who grew up in Montreal, and are fluent) as often as possible, and I do occasionally watch movies in French. I also go to Montreal at least once a year, if not more often. But I generally never need to speak French there, because everybody speaks English, and I really don't have much of an inclination to talk to the French people there. To put it in short, forgoing the usual careful tread that is so often used around generalizing a demographic (and I don't really like to generalize like this, but stereotypes come from somewhere, you know, and in this case it's very true), but they're basically regular French people, so they're arrogant and superior, and they're as rude and aggressive as Americans. It's not a good combination. The result is that every time you get in a car, you narrowly avoid getting in an accident at least once.  :P Of course not everyone is like that, but those that are like that are unfortunately representative of the population. (Note that I generally don't go around in the tourist areas of Quebec.)

Anyway, I don't blame my teacher. It's not really her fault, because she wasn't trained that way. She doesn't work the 15 hour days though, because she's one of two French teachers, and she only teaches level 2 and 4, as far as I know. She's pretty bubbly in class, so I don't think she would have a problem doing something more strenuous with the curriculum, if only the school system/the government/whatever would finally do something about the way foreign languages are taught.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Brandan Mendenhall on February 16, 2009, 10:11:10 AM
Well, this discussion really took off while I was gone, didn't it? I don't want to dwell on the past, but I don't want to miss my chance to respond to some of the older arguments either, so I'll just make a few short points.


Muse: I would more than love to visit your class! :D You are clearly a very educated person, and a very skilled linguist from what I can tell; we should all be so lucky to have a language teacher who cares about what she's teaching. I apologize for making such a broad generalization with the inappropriate use of the word "most;" that was narrow-minded of me. The fact is, every foreign language class I've had the privelege of attending--whether it be a class I'm a member of or not--has been disappointing (save for my high school Japanese class, which was replaced the year after my graduation by more Math classes). It wasn't my intention to sound judgmental, especially on a subject about which I'm quite passionate, but all I have to use as evidence are my own experiences and the experiences of others (which, of course, I've only heard second-hand).

Perhaps this is an issue that's isolated to my state? I can say, with a fair degree of confidence, that foreign language skills and programs are a joke around here.

I'll agree with you that it's not always the teachers' fault. It's no secret that teachers often don't get to teach the way they'd like to, whether it be due to a lack of experience with other teaching methods, or to administrative constraints on curriculum. Unfortunately, I just don't think that was the case in my experience. As you and Frank have both said, our opinions are all fairly similar, so I won't drag out this part of the discussion any further.

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I also think that world history should be stressed just as much, if not more than, US history. I just think about how I know absolutely nothing about any nation other than America, and it makes me ashamed to be so ethnocentric. Why don't I know anything about the formation of China? Why don't I know about the formation of the Soviet Union, or about its end? Why don't I know about anything that the UN has done since World War Two?

Frank: Yes indeed. It's very unfortunate how little we know about the rest of the world. When I lived in Japan, a couple of my classmates threw up a world map and quizzed me on world geography. Needless to say, they found my efforts, as well as the results of the quiz, quite comical. I don't think I did all THAT bad at the time, but it just didn't measure up to anything close to what they're taught overseas.

And I think the only world history-esque class I have ever taken was in my Freshman or Sohpomore year of high school. And even then, it was more a history of the human race itself, as we spent the entire year learning about Cro-Magnons and the like.

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1 variations? Do you mean four? And I concur kinda about the Japanese. I'm still teaching myself sporadically, whenever I have time between school, homework, parkour, and music. I'm not sure what you mean about the separate ways to talk about a cup on a table. Do you mean the difference between asoko, soko, and koko? Because we have that in English as well, to some extent.

Rebecca, I'm afraid I don't know what you mean either  :-[. The same can be said for English, I think. You wouldn't normally say "this cup" if it's next to someone at the other end of the table, right?
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Dan Frank on February 16, 2009, 10:44:47 AM
When I lived in Japan, a couple of my classmates threw up a world map and quizzed me on world geography.

Gah! You lived in Japan? How?!?

Coincidentally, I have to choose the classes I'm going to be taking next year today. Not sure if I should take the double period chemistry-biology or just go for two specialty electives... ugh...
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Brandan Mendenhall on February 16, 2009, 03:49:26 PM
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Gah! You lived in Japan? How?!?

1-year foreign exchange program, through Rotary International (http://www.rotary.org/en/StudentsAndYouth/YouthPrograms/RotaryYouthExchange/Pages/ridefault.aspx). I lived in Kawachinagano, Osaka from August 2005 to July 2006  :)
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Alissa J. Bratz on February 16, 2009, 06:58:30 PM
Heh, no hard feelings, everyone. :) I think we are all on the same page with regard to language instruction in the US.

Change happens slowly in schools systems because there are decades (nearing over a century) of past practice feeding into things along with millions of dollars... it's definitely analogous to an oil tanker changing heading. To understand the American education system you have to understand its history... it got its biggest growth during the industrial era, and so is designed to reflect that life: discrete, self-contained subject areas, delineated by bells and a linear series of knowledge/skill benchmarks. Kind of like a factory, which was the main thrust of the American economy at the time the education system hit critical mass, and so here we are.

For more information, read here:  http://www.chesapeake.edu/library/EDU_101/eduhist.asp

We are obviously not a manufacturing-based economy right now, but you have bajillions of dollars and millions of people invested in the model as it was set up that way, and that change won't happen overnight. I agree it needs to change, and change is coming, but it has to come from the top down as well as from the bottom up. As more and more teachers retire, you will see more new teachers come into the system with a new way of doing things. It will happen.

As to the "why is my education so 'Americo-centric'?" question... well, a lot of that has to do with the factory model alluded to above. When that model went into effect, there was only enough American history to fit within a single school year or two, and it was easier to look at the whole world. Understand too that America at that time was pretty isolationist and part of the goal of American public education was to develop good American citizens (this dates back to Revolutionary times and early America, when the US was keen to distinguish itself from England, having recently won its independence). So there was a lot of (pardon my language) "America, F*ck Yeah!" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0xo3kRR3X8&feature=related) influencing education at the time. ;)

If you are really passionate about this, I suggest you look into International Baccalaureate (http://www.ibo.org/) curriculum. It is much more global and is a pretty good model. The school where I used to work tried to implement it a couple years ago but we couldn't get enough staff support to go through with it. Change is hard for most people, c'est la vie. All you can do is be the change you wish to see in the world.

;)

And Brandan... <3 to a fellow linguist!  :-*
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Rebecca Myers on February 17, 2009, 10:15:36 AM
I MEAN that there really are 16 different ways to say THE in German. Four cases, four The's :

Nominativ: DER DIE DAS DIE
Accusativ: DEN DIE DAS DIE
Dativ: DEM DER DEM DEN
Genetiv: DES DER DES DER

As to the Japanese, I don't really remember. I gave up on the grammar a few years ago, now i just focus on phrases :)

And speaking of exchange programs; In July, I will be staying in Tuttlingen, Germany for a month with a host family, along with about 10 kids from my school, and other from two other schools around here (Homer and..some other one). I'm soo excited!
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Brandan Mendenhall on February 17, 2009, 01:16:34 PM
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And speaking of exchange programs; In July, I will be staying in Tuttlingen, Germany for a month with a host family, along with about 10 kids from my school, and other from two other schools around here (Homer and..some other one). I'm soo excited!

That's awesome! Staying with a host family is the best way to go, in my opinion. Definitely try to make the most of the trip; not everybody gets to just GO to another country, yanno  :D

PS: I'm so jealous!  :P I've been wanting to go to Germany for years.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Rebecca Myers on February 18, 2009, 10:30:18 AM
I had the daughter stay with me on October, we still e-mail almost every day. I've talked to her family over skype as well. HOWEVER, not only does the German-English make it hard, but at home they speak SCHWAEBISCH! :( Luckily all the kids also speak Hoch-Deutsch.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Andy Animus Tran on February 18, 2009, 12:10:24 PM
Muse, the IB program is a load of bullshit for anyone who isn't planning on going overseas for college.  At my old high school, it was fronted by a woman named Dr. Blair.  She propogated lie upon lie about the program in order to keep her job.  The school newspaper had a secret folder entitled "The Blair Witch Project" that catalogued the evidence of these lies, testimony from former IB-students who realised afterward what kind of bullshit it was, testimony from TEACHERS who argued against the IB program's efficacy for American students, etc. etc.  Mind you, this was a very progressive high school with extremely liberal teachers who went out of their way to "re-educate" people about the failings and miseries of America's history and to remove delusions of American grandeur.. so it wasn't about the internationalism of the IB program that caused problems.

I'll highlight some lies of Dr. Blair (I'm specifying this because the diploma on its own is fine, it's just that the reason many students enrolled in MY particular high school was largely due to the lies that were spoonfed to us):

The Myths and Lies Propogated about the IB Program - BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
1) IB classes live up to a higher standard of learning.  Utterly false.  IB classes live up to a higher volume of classwork, but the analytical properties of the course material is the same as standard curriculum.

2)  IB classes prepare you for college better than standard classes or AP classes.  False.  In the case of literature, IB courses educate the student on many famous international works, which is a great thing..  But it is at the cost of studying the classics that will be covered in a student's post-secondary education, such as the Homer epics, the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, etc.  Those who graduate with an IB diploma ultimately end up severely underprepared to assess and analyse classic works of literature.  In the case of history and social sciences, "History of the Americas" educates the students on largely Mexican and South American history, again.. underscoring a student's ability to handle the workload of standard college level classes that are more Euro-centric where basic "common knowledge" history would not be known, yet is expected.  "Theory of Knowledge," an attempt at epistemological philosophy, does not work to establish a basic framework of philosophy starting from classicalists forward, but grazes over various subjects with no real application to further education.  "Math Analysis" is more of a logic course than anything else and has no purpose in replacing the standard calculus that is part of the normal curriculum.  Students who have no background in calculus end up severely underprepared for post-secondary mathematics.

3)  An IB diploma has credits that will be accepted in other universities in the US, leading to the rapid acquisition of an undergraduate degree.  This is true only for the vast minority of American colleges, and those who do accept IB credits will only do so for limited amounts.  To date, I have only encountered one university that accepted enough IB credits to substantially shorten a student's amount of time in undergraduate schooling (it cut off three semesters).  The vast majority of IB students went into undergrad with only one or two course credits under their belt, which is a negligible difference compared to the vast amount of work required of them in high school.

4) Having an IB diploma on your transcript will look better than a standard diploma, no matter what your GPA is.  UTTERLY FALSE.  Schools look at your GPA first.  The fact that many students could have had 4.0s under a standard diploma, yet only managed 3.2s on their IB diploma resulted in some highly gifted students being rejected from schools that they wanted OR not even being eligible to apply in the first place.  The added workload of the IB program is not an indicator of anything other than being a system rigged to exponentially handicap students in their college applications.

And I'm sorry for the long-winded post.. It's been five  years since high school, and I STILL have issues with the IB program.  I think it's a bunch of bullcrap.  The only good thing about the IB program is the foreign language requirement of five years of a language (the first three standard levels and then two more additional "IB" courses).

Note:  The Blair Witch Project was never run on my high school newspaper because the journalism teacher feared for the security of her job and was considering it slander.  However, we catalogued hours upon hours of interviews with teachers, students, college professors, and members of acceptance committees for colleges/universities about whether or not the IB program is a large boost for a student on their application.  Overall, we had over 400 pages of transcripts, 200 pages of editorial essays that were never published, and even a handful of letters written from various deans encouraging students to take "easier" non-IB courses or AP courses to better prepare them for undergrad.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Alissa J. Bratz on February 19, 2009, 05:49:07 PM
Interesting, Animus. I only know of it what I saw at the schools I visited when my school was considering it. I was impressed that it was an attempt at a global education and the teachers and students I interviewed had very positive things to say about it. It is certainly not a magic bullet. I suppose a lot would depend on how the model was carried out and how well school staff were trained to teach according to the model.

But we are way off topic. :) In any case, it's always good to hear another point of view.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Shamas on February 21, 2009, 12:22:35 AM
Rosetta Stone is saweet for learning new languages.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Dan Frank on February 22, 2009, 11:00:50 AM
Rosetta Stone is saweet for learning new languages.

But SURPRISE! it's like 500 dollars. That's ridiculously exorbitant. It should be available for like 30-60 dollars, or less.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Shamas on February 22, 2009, 10:58:10 PM
Rosetta Stone is saweet for learning new languages.

But SURPRISE! it's like 500 dollars. That's ridiculously exorbitant. It should be available for like 30-60 dollars, or less.

agreed fully, good sir. I am still waiting to buy more until I sell atleast a couple more kids on the black market. I mean, these lessons don't come easy. :-Sarcasm
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Muhammad on February 23, 2009, 12:06:36 AM
haha well I am a student from Holland and because I live in Holland I get taught french at school:)
I'm now in my 3rd year of french and I can understand the most things said but can not reply yet:) well, reply in a good way yet...

i know that feeling. i am right at that point now with Somali and Arabic.. so close, yet so frustrating! LOL


As for Rosetta Stone, someone gave me an iso of it with all the languages included, and I learned quite a bit of Arabic from it.. The trick to Rosetta Stone is you have to be really disciplined to keep working at it consistently. It gets sorta boring after a while and if you try to do more than 45 minutes at a time you will find yourself falling asleep to it LOL. So if you manage to get a copy of it, remember, pace yourself and go for the long distance with it. There are more than enough exercises in it to keep you busy for a year straight working on it every single day, and each lesson builds you up for the next one. it's kind of like playing jenga with language. Another tip, don't move on to the next lesson until you've scored 100% on the test. If you make a single mistake, bail and start at the beginning of the lesson again until you can go through it perfect. Also, if you want the program to run faster, you should get some software that will allow you to create virtual CD Rom drives, and then make a virtual copy of the CD to run in the virtual drive. That way you don't have to put the CD in every time you want to use it, and it runs much faster and smoother off the hard drive.
Title: Re: French?
Post by: b5200 on February 23, 2009, 07:41:31 AM
haha well I am a student from Holland and because I live in Holland I get taught french at school:)
I'm now in my 3rd year of french and I can understand the most things said but can not reply yet:) well, reply in a good way yet...
Also, if you want the program to run faster, you should get some software that will allow you to create virtual CD Rom drives, and then make a virtual copy of the CD to run in the virtual drive. That way you don't have to put the CD in every time you want to use it, and it runs much faster and smoother off the hard drive.
Meaning daemon tools lite and alcohol 120%
Title: Re: French?
Post by: Muhammad on February 23, 2009, 03:00:29 PM
actually, i've used two other things to get the same effect. you can do it with Nero, and also there is a program made by Farstone called Virtual Drive which is pretty nice.