everybody ready for a personal refletction on a lost educational opportunity?
ok, so i took french all through middle school and high school. i was a passable speaker and a pretty good reader.
but when i was in college, i realized that while i had some good beginnings, what i did not have was a solid gasp of grammar. so i thought taking some french in college would be just the thing. i looked at catalog listings and syllabi and came up with a nice solid second-year grammar course that i thought would make me a stronger speaker and a decent writer.
you can be sloppy in your spoken french because so many verb forms sound alike from tense to tense.
and you can gather a LOT of clues in reading by sorting context.
so i went to ask to take this second-year grammar course that was just perfect for my needs and they said i'd have to test out of first year french, so i took the placement tests. i warned them, though, that i was going to look a LOT better on paper than my actual skills.
you know, because i had good comprehension and weak grammar and if they weren't taking a writing sample or asking me to make more than small talk, they weren't going to see my glaring deficiencies.
you see where this is going?
i ended up in a senior level conversational course where i was that one kid nobody wants in their group. i was completely over my head. the teacher felt i had a poor grasp of grammar.
and i was too ashamed to stand up and say TOLJA.
i knew how good i was, and how good i wasn't. i KNEW i belonged in a second-year grammar course and that's what i tried to get into.
i could still use a second year grammar course. i feel the sting of it every time i want to speak french, which, because of where i live, is pretty often.
the moral of the story is that an enthusiastic learner will often be able to tell you what they need. if you are a teacher, you should listen.