Thursday, 17 February 2011

I am linguistically challenged

Today was tough in class. I definitely don’t think senior 4 got me. And before I knew it asseyez-vous and ecoutez bien (almost certainly spelt wrong)! had come forth from the dark recesses of my brain where the remains of G.C.S.E French lay buried underneath the rubble of too many degrees. The shock response that another language came through my lips was enough to get some sort of compliance. I feel at times like I’m back in my NQT year, when I felt like I was a subject on channel 4’s faking it show and one day a panel of ofsted inspectors would be brought in to try and out the fake.
 But I did discover the delights of using clapping patterns with them, African people seem to have rhythm in their blood and in two minutes they were already doing it better than me. I often hear some lovely singing going on around the college but as my voice is shockingly bad and these are teens rather than 5 year olds I’m not sure its the way forward! Maybe in a while I might start singing some Gill songs with them, we shall see.
One tutor who speaks good French and English has very kindly offered to give me French lessons which will make me feel a bit less embarrassed when people ask you ‘what languages do you speak?’ This is generally the time to look at my shoes and say umm a bit of French and a few words of Spanish...I have looked at my shoes a lot since arriving. It is the norm here to speak at least 3 languages, maybe 4. The Senior 4 language specialists learn French, Kiswahili, English and of course Kinyarwanda, clever kids. Hopefully I will absorb by osmosis some of the linguistic skills of the students and tutors while I’m here. It would be great to hold down a conversation in French, Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili by the time my two years are up!


  1. Diego says don't worry - you'll get use to it! the words come back & stay because you'll use them again ... you'll be beyond GCSE in no time without even realising!! you'll learn more from lessons/ day to day life there than in Bristol ... as it's a lot more real & of use!! sending choc at the w/e :0) email me any requests - don't want to clash with ur bro! though can a girl have too many bounties?!! xxxx

  2. A girl can never have too many bounties! Thank you Diego for your calming words, I am trying not to worry. People laugh at me when I try and speak Kinyarwanda but less so when I try to speak French - make of that what you will.