Tuesday, 4 June 2013

French Prof in Pondy!

Monsieur Jean-Baptiste taught French earlier this year to local students in Pondicherry. Is it possible for a French man who speaks no English or Tamil in class, to find success with students who have a very basic level in French?

Going by the testimony of his student, John Mourouguessin, it seems clearly possible.

First is a short impression of John followed by an interview with Jean Baptiste in English and French. Thanks Sylvain for the translation legend.

Our students were initially unable to understand Jean Baptiste's French accent as we were habituated to the Indian accent in French. Having done my schooling and college in standard institutions, I did not expect much from him, but got used to it over time...I was patient in my learning..I don't believe in marks secured during class tests..Its the way you implement the language practically....Learning not only depends upon the professor but also the way you work hard coming home everyday...

He was more than a professor to me in the class.The reason why I love him,respect him and have a good relationship with him still is because,he was friendly,loving,humble,selfless,patient,would discipline students with love and not a man who justifies..In my interactions with him, I never found a racist or French superiority complex. He was sincere and also a great inspiration to me personally. Since,God willing I might marry a French girl (born and brought up in France) but found it difficult to learn the language...
  • For your information,I was the last mark in the class."  - John Mourouguessin (ex-student)

John Mourouguessin and Jean-Baptiste

    Interview with Jean-Baptiste

    Have you a base in pedagogy or FLE?

    I have prepared two FLE units that I obtained by preparing the DAEFLE (Diplôme d’Aptitude à l’Enseignement du Français Langue Etrangère). It is the unit of Phonetic and Civilization history. For the pedagogical basis I have been trainer in France for different publics. I was in charge of the cultural opening.

    The experience teaching Tamil students French in Pondicherry? Some students speak English and Tamil, some speak Tamil but not English, some English but not Tamil, some speak Hindi but not Tamil!! Wow, how do you manage?

    I would say, it is more of a challenge nowadays than it would be in a different context. The experience would have been different if it was more free without obligation to follow the prescribed method. For me, being a teacher of French at the Alliance française has not allowed me to learn Tamil. Maybe it could have been possible to learn it with the beginners, but what is distorting the learning process is English. 

    For a French man to learn Tamil is equivalent to return to kindergarten, but the opposite is not always true. The students and the teachers have to play the game!

    Class Exercise Given by Jean Baptiste

    You taught level 2 and 5. How was it different?

    The differences of levels are already pre-established by the Cadre Européen Commun de Référence de Langues. The challenges are in the acquisition of communication abilities and the capacity of applying this in the daily life. The constancy and motivation of the students in general is very positive in the two levels. I would say for the negative aspect that the coherence of the learning process with the the external world was not based on reality. 

    Activities the students love most and least?

    In my experience, the activities that they do themselves are their favorites. Also the activities that deal with the daily life like the "reality theatre" or "role play". What can be boring for them is the framework of the methodology.

    All teachers organised small activities to celebrate 'dix mots de la francophonie'. (bouquet, cache, coup-de-foudre, equipe, atelier, etc) And you?

    I tried to animate a workshop on automatic writing with the students and the result was convincing because we succeeded to write a « break-up letter » which had actual sense. It was an interesting exercise which deserved to be worked again.

    Most memorable moment in class you won't forget? What did you learn from your students?

    I have received so many gifts from the students. I will never forget the moments of conviviality for a birthday for instance. Generally speaking, the students were very motivated, specifically for the morning class at 7 am. They were also very united between each other. I particularly remember a party we had in the class for a student who has just found a job. They also shared with me their personal lives, for instance I was invited to a partu manja thanir. 

    The students of Level 5 wrote their opinions of 'Capital Punishment'. Were you severe about controversial opinions?

    The opinions were divided on this kind of topic, but I was not marking them according to their point of view. I tried to mark their French level (spelling, syntax, vocabulary, conjugation, etc). Some of them took the subject very seriously and I thank them for their outspokenness.

    Are you satisfied when the students speak French well, and when they ask questions. And when you'll don't understand each other?

    Whenever we understand each other it's easier. Myself, I don't speak a very good English and an even less good Tamil !! It's true that I appreciate when the students talked to me in French. Sometimes I confess that I do not understand the meaning of some questions ! I will try to answer as frankly as possible even if i have to say "I dont know" many times.

    How do you deal with the difference in levels (learning abilities) of students in the same class? 

    I would try to harmonize the group according to their real level and not according to the diploma that they are trying to obtain. 

    Suggestion to improve oral comprehension of French?

    Do not hesitate to listen to French music on Youtube and to try to translate the lyrics, to watch movies and to listen to the radio broadcast or the TV news (RFI or TV5), but also to chat on social networks, and above all, whenever its possible to talk to French people by making street interview. French people like that. Also there are a lot of tourists in Pondicherry.

    You taught here during the Bonjour India festival? What spectacles you enjoyed most?

    I found the concept of « Puce Muse » very original but I missed also a lot of events. The movie cycle on Tony Gatlif was very interesting.

    Tony Gatlif's Transylvania screened for movie cycle

    Places in Pondy for eating, shopping etc?

    The tea kadai where you can have at each corner street, its awesome, and also the yelenir (coconut water), very refreshing and good for health, the fresh fruit juices etc. For eating simple food at a reasonable price the Indian Coffee House of Nehru street and Annapurna on Gandhi Street. I appreciated also the government shop on Nehru street Khadi kraft where you can have rice specialty (veg byriani , sambar rice etc) and the Amuda Surabi

    and finally?

    I would like to continue to teach French but in a different way with a sharing method that is evolving and performed by the students themselves. The purpose of the class will be to realize a specific method, I mean that the students themselves will be at the base of their own learning process. This can be the most fun way to learn.