Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Profiting from time abroad

     A few weeks ago, in music class, my son was chastised in front of the class for not having memorized the answers to a quiz.  When he indicated that his French wasn't yet strong enough to have completed the assignment, the teacher asked him how long he'd been in France.  He said two months (though he'd only been in school for about a month at that point) and the teacher said, "You must profit from your time!  Profit James, profit!"  Apparently, the exchange has continued, with the music teacher calling him up first last week and telling him that he's not really benefitting from this opportunity, because he hasn't learned enough French.
      This demonstrates that James and the teacher have rather different understandings of what it means to profit from time abroad as well as what James' "job" is here.  Overall, all the kids' teachers have been pretty understanding of the fact that they came knowing no French and that they're trying but that they don't yet know much.  However, I expect that it's hard for many of the teachers to see them making reasonably little progress in French, as it seems like they must not be learning anything about France.  Of course, that's not true.  They are picking up lots of French -- though nothing systematic -- and they are learning a great deal about social expectations, cuisine (school lunches are an entirely different animal here!), and playground games (marbles!), just to mention a few things.  They will not go back to the United States the same as when they left, whether they can carry on a conversation in French or not.


  1. What a wonderful opportunity for your kids. I know that our trips to Indonesia with our little ones have totally changed their outlook on life and the world. I'm so happy for your family that you have this chance. And I feel like I'm part of the "cool kids" to have a Fulbright Scholar as a friend, even if she only lives inside my computer. ;-)

  2. This doesn't surprise me at all!