The French teacher tried so hard to make me speak French. We got off to a good start, learning some kind of code. English words were coded into other French-looking words. I learned to spell those words, including all the accents.
Then he began writing out a kind of chart that showed how verbs change form depending on the person they were related to. This was a step too far. Too much French.
I had no idea why we had to learn French, and so I was making it difficult for myself to understand what he had written in the chart. I certainly could not memorise it, despite many homework being set with that goal.
I refused to speak French out loud. Especially in front of my classmates. I couldn’t understand why they were suddenly so bloody capable of speaking La belle Français.
Some lessons were based on audio cassettes, with dialogues. We were supposed to listen and say what was going on. I could hardly hear any words at all.
Some lessons were based on books, with dialogues. We were supposed to act out the scenes in French. Not bloody likely. I am not so easily fooled.
My performance in these French lessons was in stark contrast to my performance in Maths lessons, in Science lessons and in Woodwork lessons. Here, I was a difficult student, and intelligent enough to make life very difficult for the French teacher.
I knew I could pretend not to understand. He would tell me again, teach me again. I knew I could pronounce the word incorrectly (with a very English accent) because he would encourage me to speak it differently, to copy his pronunciation.
But they never told me why I should learn French. They told me that I should learn French, and it was important. But I never understood the importance.
Whether it was the French teacher or my parents who came up with the idea, I do not know, but we did get a French student come to stay with the family.
I ran. I hid. I ignored the poor girl for all the months she was with us. She spoke English of course, with a French accent of course, but I steadfastly refused to speak English or French with her.
Footnote: I moved to Sweden aged 30. It took me a couple of years to learn to speak Swedish. My work for thirty years has been in English and Swedish. I coach in Swedish.
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I am a teacher, a business-owner, a public speaker, a coach and an author.