en tte
new-york-times

Sink-or-Swim French Can Be “Chambre de Torture”, but Also Fun

“… Our days were varied but carefully structured with total emphasis placed on the spoken, not the written, word. There were classroom sessions with film strips and systematic usage of new phrases and grammatical complexities, and group games, with variations on charades; there were poems to read, songs to hear, and stories to tell, all in French, naturally. And, of course, there was the language laboratory.

Evenings and weekends we spilled out into Villefranche or such neighborhing Riviera towns as Nice and Monte Carlo, to use our ever-expanding knowledge of French in shops, buses, museums and restaurants. It was gratifying to be able to ask directions in perfect, if slow, French and mortifying when a bus driver responded in perfect English !

As the first week drew to a close, students struggled to get accustomed to the rigorous routine as the sun and sea, looming large beyond the windows of the institute, vied for our attention. We leaped at the chance to spend half-hour breaks and practice sessions in the garden, and sun baths were snatched furtively. But all too soon we returned to the classroom to watch “Pierre and Mireille” go to the cinema.

By the fourth and last week, there was a final burst of energy to learn, to speak, to comprehend. Class discussions in Intermediate II became hilarious as students outdid one another to provide the funniest lines of imaginary dialogue to accompany the filmstrips. We became cocky, giddy, anxious, relieved – feelings mixed with a twinge of sadness, for soon we would be leaving our fascinating little community…”

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Villefranche-sur-Mer 5 °C
December 16, 2017