Monday, February 3, 2014

Fluency versus Creativity...The French Conundrum

Apologies to all those who have so kindly read and even commented on my scribbling, because I have not posted a blog since well before Christmas. Problem is returning to the UK, selling a house, buying a house, medical stuff, Christmas and now waiting for solicitors to do what they do, has kept me from the keyboard.

But yesterday a chance conversation, whilst out walking with some English acquaintances (ex Anglo/Francophiles) made me consider again the  French teaching system. Apparently the couple had reared their children mostly in France & so both children, now adults, were bilingual. Choosing to capitalise on their linguistic abilities they chose their current university studies accordingly . However one offspring, combining Business Studies with French, had failed  his first year in French, mostly due to a lack of creativity. Grammatically & technically he was fluent, but in  application in a creative process he was not.

This so fits what I keep seeing in the teaching & learning within the French classroom, there has to be a correct & definitive answer, alternatives are not on the curriculum. What I experience  is a lack of creative thought, either taught or displayed, seems to be a commonality, quite something when you consider France is the nation of artist & romantics, seeming free thinkers.

Not so perhaps: Picasso was Spanish; El Greco was Greek (if that's not too obvious);Van Gough, Dutch...seems you just have to have painted in Paris and become famous and hey presto you become an honorary Frenchman. And all that café culture and absinthe made for a great mix of ideas and the avant-garde philosophies  were born.

But where did the romantic bit come from? Well maybe it was the Bonaparte & Josephine myths; the shape  of the champagne glasses and all that. Or maybe its what my granny might have said  "its all that sex in the language", which was her naïve & unknowing way of explaiing the genders of French nouns.
As far as she could see, "if they have all those 'le & la' and they do all that kissing when they meet, its going to cause problems". Now there is some free thinking...