French is informally declared the most beautiful spoken language globally attracting millions of people to learn the smooth, elegant, musical, and aesthetically pleasing language. Following in the footsteps of millions of global citizens in learning the musically sounding language, David Sedaris recounts his experiences as a debutant French learner in his article; Me Talk Pretty One Day by Sedaris (1999). The protagonist, David, explains the troubles he experienced while trying to learn the French language. Sedaris experiences the most unworkable learning conditions, primarily through the sadistic teacher. Nonetheless, David begins to learn the new language despite the harsh conditions that he encounters as a newbie to the French language and culture. The paper will elaborate more that despite the perceived difficulties experienced by new French language learners, their persistence allows them to gain proficiency in the French language, and the results are rewarding.
To illustrate the difficulties in learning the French language for newbies, Sedaris (1999) starts by describing their first day in class as extremely gruesome. On their first day, the teacher expects the “true debutants” to possess enough French skills to enable essential communication in the class. To help the debutants settle into the classrooms, they are forced to take an introductory French course before registering for the class at Alliance Franchise. David explains “I took a month-long French class last summer in New York” (Sedaris 86). He learned preliminary French during his summer holiday to allow him to gain initial proficiency in the language. The extra effort into learning the French language by the newbie requires the individual to be persistent in learning a new language.
Secondly, the students in the class are shown to withstand the abuse and criticism by the teacher on their language, culture, and country. The teacher, for instance, makes fun of the first Anna’s light comment about mosquitoes and how they go to the rant. The teacher sarcastically exclaims, “How interesting. I thought that everyone loved the mosquito, but here, in front of the entire world, you claim to detest him” (Sedaris 1999). The author describes the Polish girl to be completely stunned by the remark and remains speechless and in shock and shame. Despite such a shaming moment and later embarrassment and criticism by the sadistic teacher, Anna continues with the class. The rest of the students endure similar, if not worse, jabs from their teacher (Sedaris 1999). With persistence and commitment to the course despite the discrimination by the teacher, students can learn French.
Lastly, David and the rest of the new students experience highly discriminatory interactions with native French speakers. Sometimes, the natives express their open-hate emotions to foreigners in the market or at school. They avoid supermarkets or other open areas because they are abused by the teachers and other native French workers. During a conversation among the foreign students, one (unnamed) student encourages their fellows by saying, “That is common for me also, but be stronger, you. Work hard, and someday you will talk pretty. People will stop hating you soon. Maybe tomorrow, okay?” (Sedaris 1999). During this conversation in the ‘smoky hallways,’ the students exclaim that their journey to learning French feels like living in a refugee camp. In the end, however, David is thrilled that he finally understands French and defiantly retorts, “I know the thing what you speak exactly now. Talk me more, plus, please, plus” (Sedaris 1999).
In conclusion, this article shows that the persistence of David, Anna, and the rest of the French debutants are rewarded by finally acquiring the competencies to understand French despite the discrimination by natives, abuse by the teacher, and the non-sensitivity of their teacher to their first languages.
Sedaris, D. (1999). Me talk pretty one day (131st ed.). G K Hall & Company. EBSCOhost,search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=1592411&site=eds-live&scope=site
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