Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Le McBaby et sa classe francaise

Bilingualism is one of those goals that most well-meaning parents have for their children for various reasons including the ability to communicate and enhanced self-confidence. That said, my reasons for wanting this are stronger than most and yet another example of a mother projecting their failures onto their little one.

I have a non native mother who DIDN'T teach us her first language, leading to years of missed opportunities and thousands of people asking me why I don't speak, read or understand her language. I made a couple of half hearted efforts at learning Spanish (one day I'll write a blog about when I was about eight years old and led the world to believe that I WAS Spanish), French, Chinese and Japanese, but my knowledge is so lacking that I've happily asked people if they have haemorrhoids*, if they could lick my arm** and once told a friend that I had a big hippo***

So I absolutely jumped at the chance for Le McBaby to try a French class at the language academy in Newbury. This tiny shopfront in the arcade between the Kitchenmonger and Strada belies a HUGE school with hundreds of classrooms upstairs.

I took Le McBaby in for his class to a warm welcome from the staff into a colourful and engaging room occupied by about 8 well-behaved children. The McBaby wouldn't let go of me and wrapped his legs around me like ivy growing around a drainpipe. Eventually he was coaxed away from me by the promise of a soft elephant toy and sat with the others looking terrified and blinking back tears.

They were invited to choose some plastic fruit from the front of the classroom with the aim of learning the construction "j'aime les......." such as "j'aime les bananes"; "j'aime les pommes".

Le McBaby said he liked elephants when prompted. Incidentally, they addressed him as Monsieur [my surname] which is not the same as his. Oops.

He eventually chose a banana although he wouldn't fetch it from the front of the class for fear of relinquishing the elephant, and said he liked it in English.

They then chose an animal and then sang a song about un petit escargot before the lesson continued without us. While the others talked about their favourite colours, le prof asked Le McBaby what his favourite colour was. He stood up and announced to the class that his name was Le McBaby with such solemnity that I nearly cried.

We then tried to exit quietly, but of course, we had to give l'elephant back. Huge tantrum lasting all the way back to the car. "Tantrum" in French is "Crise de colere", just so you know....

*I was trying to ask someone if they had change in Cantonese

**trying to get rid of an attacker when I lived in France, I said "lick my arm" instead of "let go of my arm"

***I was trying to make a joke about my big handbag in Japan.

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