Excusez-moi?


One of the definite perks of working for a university is the opportunity to take free classes. After being talked out of taking Arabic by my mother (who I applaud for her failed attempt to suppress her laughter), I decided to sign up for a weekly Intermediate French course that began this week.

The French classes I took as an undergrad were among my favorite courses. I also happened to do quite well in them, so I was confident enough walking into Tuesday’s first session. You may have a sense of where this is going…

Our professor, Hela (pronounced “hella” – awesome, I know), asked each of us to state in either English or French why we were taking the course. I was mentally preparing my response in what I deemed to be mostly unbroken French when one of the middle-aged gentlemen among us rattled off his answer in nearly perfect conversational French. I mean, damn; was I ever glad I didn’t volunteer to go first. His spiel was basically like sitting there listening to this and made me feel like this afterwards.

I suppose that’s the outcome of him living and working in Belgium for 12 years (at least I understood that much!). This made clear how very subjective the term intermediate is.

And since I possess no facial filter whatsoever, the professor quickly picked up on my thought process (I’m sure a baboon could have just as easily done the same) and fortunately without calling me out explained to the class that we were welcome to use English in the course’s initial weeks. Merci professeur.

I say this in the least supercilious way possible, but I’m not used to being one of the least advanced learners in the classroom. Thank God I’m motivated, resourceful and that I have no sense of shame when it comes to public embarrassment because she’s already assured us that we’ll have plenty of practice at conversation in the coming months. I’m actually pretty stoked about that, though, and have ultimately resolved to think of the entire experience as a total positive. If nothing else, it’s free, right?

You can bet this won’t be the last you hear about this class.

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