Thursday, May 26, 2011


I was mean-girled the other night.

Now, as most of you know, I've been studying French for the past year and a half. I love the country, and love the language and am determined to become fluent by 50. However, this aim is being seriously messed with by my teacher.

She and I have differing views on encouraging students to learn: I believe in the carrot method {praise, encouragement...} while she believes in the stick {a bloody big stick}.

Every now and again she'll pick on someone, just for the fun of it. She'll deride their pronunciation, or their inability to think of a third person pronoun... Anything really. This week it was my turn.

We have to do dictation, where our teacher speaks in French and we write it down. This is hard. Really hard. Usually they're not only sentences we're not familiar with - but words too. Whole new, unfamilar words. Try doing that in English let alone French... This week we had six people in the class, and six sentences. The last two were tough - the final one, impossible. Guess which one I had to write on the whiteboard...

So, there I am, writing word by word. And with every word my teacher's snickering, 'Hoo, hoo, ha, ha"... I'm incredulous - seriously, is this happening? Next word: actual laughter, and encouragement for the class to join in - which, as is typical in a bullying environment, there are a few nervous titters {of the "thank god that's not me" variety.}. I finally get my long, complex sentence up and she comes up. And tells a story. A story of how I remind her of a school student she once had. A student who had many ideas, but, oh, she wrote a story and the teacher said "Is this in French? What language is this?" Because oh, silly child, it was all written phonetically! Um, if you don't know how to spell a word don't you write it phonetically? Isn't that precisely how our children learn?

Then she proceeded to tear every word apart, asked me what the tense was, who the subject was - asked me why I'd written 'e' when she'd so clearly said 'e'. {I kid you not, I still haven't been able to differentiate between those sounds...}

At the time I just fumed silently, but days later I'm still furious. Next week I'll be refusing to write on the board and I'll tell her why. I'm in the class to learn, not to be derided.

I will keep going as I do want to learn the language - fingers and toes crossed that she doesn't teach next year's level. If so, well, I might have to look elsewhere.

Mean-girling sucks at any age.


  1. Unfortunately there will always be Mean Girls out there! Don't let her win, keep learning your French xx

  2. I cringed and then I got angry for you!! that's awful! I know it's easy to say, but she's obviously either threatened by you, or she's just incredibly unhappy with herself as a person. Good luck next week, I hope you find a way of letting her know that behaviour is terrible, especially for an adult!

  3. I can't believe someone could treat their students this way! Honestly, how does she expect to HELP anyone when they're so nervous? Grrr, it makes me mad! I'd be looking for other classes if I were you!

  4. Seriously? That is terrible. I'd consider writing a written complaint (IN PLAIN ENGLISH) to her superior or employer or facility that she's in. And look elsewhere for a class. Nobody learns well in an environment like that. That was plain bullying behaviour.

  5. C'est terrible et c'est uneccessaire! That's awful Linda and I'm with alliecat about the complaint. I found the best French lessons I've ever had were by a guy called Michel Thomas and it's a set of about 8 CDs (available online) ... they are truly excellent and better than any of the various lessons I've tried over the years... I have a set you can borrow if you like :)

  6. le (or is it la) vaiche! (apologies for spelling - it's French for cow, however you spell it!)

  7. Ahem. She needs to be written up. That was inexcusable. That's not a teaching environment.
    We both know I taught myself french via book, constant conversation with myself, and finally extended travel in Europe. When I was in college, then I took french courses and had a teacher deride me for speaking 'commoner' French (WTFUZZ) aka (you know how people THERE speak?) and I calmly spoke back to her in French "Les personnes comme vous sont pourquoi le monde déteste l'Amérique. Particulièrement la France." (pardon if I don't have tenses right- I'm way out of practice).

    I walked out and never showed up again until the final exam, which I got an A on. She attempted to 'friend' me on FaceBook. I got great satisfaction in turning that down. Linda, there has got to be a better teacher. There just has to be. Hugs, S.

  8. I agree with everyone else. It must be so difficult to learn in that intimidating environment. Speak to her superior, look elsewhere for lessons and be assertive when you deal with her.

  9. Reminds me of Mme Kickmyass on An American Mom in Paris

    It's so pointless really - what do you learn in those sorts of lessons aside from abject humiliation?

  10. Oh gosh!
    Your learning French for yourself and paying alot more than money for that! SAD!
    Well, I love the way you write and am a new follower, so I hope and pray that you find a solution how to deal with this problem, but learn the language you really want to learn :-)

  11. Oh, guys, you're making me all teary with your support - thank you. Yes, she's finally gone too far and I will be speaking up next week and if there's no response I'll take it further. My guess is she's got progressively worse - and people just drop out or shut up. I'm not going to let her stop me though. I am woman - hear me roar!


  12. I expect to hear the roar up here, m'kay?

    Seriously, I would be asking her why she chooses to teach? Does she feel it is beneath her and something she has settled for and resents? Was SHE not good enough for her dream? If no, then how on earth can she justify her behaviour? If yes, then she needs to walk away or do therapy, or something BUT also to stop her behaviour.

    Seriously unnacceptable!

  13. WTH? Like MM I'm wondering why she teaches? Is it just so she can show off how much better she is? Condescending, mean person!

    Maybe if you all complain they can fire her ass.

  14. and I assume you pay for the prilivage .... heavens !! I hope she is not a mother - imagine her poor kids - you will always be my frenchie girl no matter what e i o u you use :) le xox


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