This weekend, I spent Saturday night in Tours in the middle of my school organized trip to the Loire Valley. Before I get to the awesome pictures and details, first I have a tiny anecdote.
A few of the girls and I decided to go out for the night in Tours since we discovered it was a college town. It was one of those nights where you just have a blast with the people you're with and it doesn't really feel like anything else in the world matters. Between all of the excitement, it was finally time to head home, so Claire, Yasmeen and I decided to make a short stop and grab some food before our trek back. As we were heading back to the hotel, two men came up to us and asked if we had any cigarettes (in french) to which Claire kindly responded "Non, désolée" which means "No, sorry."
Suddenly the man exclaimed "NOH DAY-SOH-LAY" imitating her american accent and proceeded to walk away.
Now this got me thinking.... When did it become okay to make fun of people's accents??? Let me tell you, every time a french person imitates my accent, makes fun of it, or tells me that it is "cute" I immediately contemplate giving up french forever. The french accent is HARD!!! Trust me, I just spent an hour in phonetics discussing the different "r" sound in the words "prune" vs. "brune." Sorry you GREW UP MAKING THESE NOISES THAT DON'T EXIST IN MY NATIVE LANGUAGE.
I know (or at least I hope) that people don't mean any harm when they do these things. I know this because it's so prominent around America. How many times have you been out to eat and had a waiter who has a different native language than English? I know you might lean over and giggle or give your friend a strange look. But did you ever think how this might possibly affect other people?
Speaking another language is so difficult, especially when you aren't used to speaking frequently. In high school, I practiced writing and reading french, but it was extremely rare that I was forced to speak large amounts of french in a conversational setting. No, reading each homework exercise in order doesn't count.
People who step outside of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to speak another language should be praised instead of criticized. You want to encourage people to continuing trying and learning instead of shutting them down and making them feel embarrassed or insecure. In the future, I'm gonna make an even bigger effort to be respectful of accents, because it's so incredibly important (i'm looking at you USA).
Weekend in the Loire...
After a short visit, we hopped on the bus and headed to the town of Amboise. First, we got to have lunch in the town, where I had some pretty incredible duck (canard). I think duck might be my new favorite food and it is EVERYWHERE in France. Something I already know I am going to miss. It was a beautiful city with the Chateau d'Amboise stuck right in the middle. This castle was interesting because it was originally much bigger than what it is today. Although it still has a beautiful landscape as well with great views of the city because of its elevation. The weather was absolutely incredible and we had the chance to relax before our next bit of traveling. I didn't have a chance to get a great frontal view of the castle but this was the best I got.
I also started my shadowing/assistant position for an English teacher at a French middle school. So far, it has been a lot of fun. There are definitely some differences but also a lot of similarities between the French and American school system. For one hour, I shadow a teacher who teachers the younger level (I'm guessing they are the 11 year olds). They are really sweet and seem very interested/confused by my presence. For the second hour, I work with the older kids (either 14 or 15) and I definitely wasn't prepared. The teacher split the class in 2 and gave me a group to teach the lesson on my own. They were very rowdy and it was difficult to fully explain the lesson with the language barrier (technically the teacher said no french), but I think it will be a fun challenge this semester. They are at an age where they are clearly not very interested in school, let alone English, so it will be tough, but I think it will be a good experience. When I first walked into the class, the teacher left me alone with them so they could ask me questions. They were pretty chaotic and the round of questions opened with "Do you have a boyfriend???" Oh young teenagers are so fun.
If you've read this far, I hope you're not toooooo bored, but thanks for reading all about my French adventures! Look for updates from Munich coming up after this weekend.
Until next time...AR!