Practice makes perfect
Sometimes in life, when the moment's right and you can’t think of anything else to say, there’s nothing better than opting for the perfect saying. Here, in France, one saying has become more important and relevant to my life more than ever and that’s the old gem, ‘practice makes perfect’. And guess what...it really does!
I’m now in the second month of teaching as a language assistant and whilst I honestly do love my job, at times it is incredibly trying. Most of my classes here are what the French called ‘Euro’ classes; that is to say that the students have extra English lessons and are therefore meant to be the better linguists. However, when I ask my students to describe their favourite film and they can’t won't even tell me the name of ANY film, sometimes, I really do wonder.
Don’t get me wrong, my French is far from perfect and I remember exactly how it felt sitting in a classroom having to speak a weird, unfamiliar language in front of my classmates and a native speaker and yes, it is very intimidating. But it’s only now that I’m a language assistant myself that I understand how valuable their role is. Assistants provide an opportunity for foreigners to listen to a real, authentic accent, learn everyday phrases and of course, offer a chance to practise speaking with a native.
The thing with languages is that there is always something new to be learnt. Whether it’s vocabulary, grammar, or simply working on your accent and fluency, you can always improve. I really want to help these students become the best linguists they can be, and have the potential to be, but unless they start to help themselves there’s only so much I can do.
But this article isn’t only to moan about my students (I promise!) I suppose it’s also a reminder to myself of everything that I want to achieve on my year abroad and what I need to do to get there. Before I came to France, I had no doubt that by the end of the year I would go home fluent. Now I’m here, I’m not so sure anymore. My job is to teach English so there’s the catch 22 and all my friends here are fellow English assistants so its just easier speaking English together. I have, however, bought a French book and pick up a French paper everyday but both somehow end up thrown in the bottom of my bag, unread.
So I guess there’s only one thing left for me to do tonight: pick up said book and start taking my own advice to become a better linguist!