Back to school or “rentrée” has officially begun. Angers is bustling with the return of the local residents and its additional 45,000 students. Bus service is more frequent and the transit service is once again using the very long “bendy” buses.
John and I also became students this September. We are embarking upon our French language study in earnest by taking the City of Angers’ intensive French class.
We, along with all of the elementary through university students take the public bus to school. (There are additional public buses just for students, but those are for areas not near an established public bus route.)
We got on the bus which became populated by about 80-100 students by the time we reached their schools’ bus stops. These children ranged in age from about 10 to 18. Some whispered quietly, others read, the rest were just quiet. Each student greeted the driver with the lilting, “Bonjour” and moved to an open space. No pushing, loud voices, or horse-play.
After school, the commute is a tiny bit more boisterous, but still an extremely pleasant experience. The only disconcerting part is always being the oldest and only masked riders. (In addition to Covid, fall colds have always been a part of teaching. We hope to avoid both.)
Buses in our area of the US required an assistant to monitor the students and elementary, middle and high schoolers did not ride together as that would be total, dangerous mayhem.
Back to school:
I have always loved taking classes and am an enthusiastic student. I thrive in the structured classroom environment. I come to class prepared and love to sit in the front row. Best of all, returning to the classroom gives me an excuse to buy stationery!
Anyone who knows John, knows he is brilliant. He is a self-taught musician and composer. Everywhere he worked, he was the “go-to” guy to fix problems, whether they were with systems processing, electrical, mechanical or electrical design and troubleshooting. When he made garden art, he created his own tools, products and marketing materials. He likes reading aeronautical engineering and physics books for fun.
John is a reluctant student. In the 60s he was criticized for being a daydreamer. Today he would be identified a gifted student and alternative methods of instruction would be warranted. Traditional lecture-based education has never been a good fit for students like him who prefer practical hands-on experience. France, like the US, is very traditional in its delivery of instruction. For him, this class is a form of torture.
Our teacher is a very polished 70-ish teacher. She came into the room in her stylish twin-set sweater and dress slacks, kitten-heeled dress shoes, and the obligatory scarf. She did not introduce herself, but smiled and began class promptly at 9:00 AM, completely in French.
The workbook is completely in French. We were so nervous about this class that during the summer’s heatwaves, we sequestered ourselves in our home and completed the book. It was difficult and frustrating, but it made a world of difference for taking this class. The content comes so quickly, we would have been completely overwhelmed.
The class is like a mini-United Nations. There are fourteen of us. Three Americans, three Chinese, two Nigerian, one Sudanese, two Vietnamese, one Peruvian, one Moroccan, one Bolivian and one person from the Ivory Coast. Almost all of them speak English as a second language (or third) and most have no French language experience. One woman is totally fluent, but she can’t read. My heart breaks a little every time the teacher calls on her.
After three weeks of this class, I will continue taking weekly classes and he will begin learning through exploration. I predict in a year, we will a bit more comfortable in French, but John’s understanding will surpass mine.
Oh, and we will have totally lost our English.
Photos from this week: