Thursday, July 28, 2005

I Walked By Bike : Florence

(Part of the series Very Very Sometimes. Click here to read the Intro.)

Note: Florence’s lines are to be read at full speed in the worse French accent you can possibly conjure.

“Oh, yes yes yes! There is long time, I am au pair at the State. I have little girl, I park, I car, I school, it is to the all good for to go with baby. I have full of friend American! I speak English all of the time with the person and I ponder hey! I doesn’t lose it!”

There was nothing to do but blink. It was the first question of my placement exam with Florence. Where did you learn English? After further questioning, I discerned that, a long time ago, she was a nanny in the US, and had never had any formal classes.

Level two: false beginner.

Florence possesses the unique ability combine loquaciousness with nonsense. When I stop her and say slowly, “Florence, I understand absolutely nothing,” she just laughs and continues talking. She is a nightmare and I love her for it.

The other day, I took away the magazine pictures she was describing and replaced them with a grammar exercise. I had to prove to her that she needed my help. It worked. Zero right answers after seven questions.

“This I no need this! You stand me I speak!”

“You do need this. You need to learn grammar. What did you tell me about people on the phone?”

“They say me ‘Manager please’.”

“Right. I think that if your grammar was better, they might want to speak to you and not the manager.”

“Fine. Could you please repeat.”

“What’s your brother like?” (She needed to differentiate between to be like and to like.)

She thought a moment. “He like sea fruit?”

“Umm…” I made my incorrect-response face.

“He like the fish?”

“No, the problem is that you’re telling me what he likes and I want to know what he is like.”

“He likes the fish?”

“Okay, listen to me. The question is: What’s your brother like? I’m asking for a descrip—”

She grabbed her head with both hands and shouted, “Stop! I must ponder!” I thought she might cry.

After a few minutes, she told me, “Is difficult! So many people which one who want to speak past time!”

I decided to go with what I understood. “Yes, it’s difficult.”

“Yes. I must ponder.”

“Please. Ponder.”

And so she did.

“He likes fish.”

I had no choice. “Good.”



At 3:57 PM, Blogger juliana said...

God, it must be so hard teaching people. Espectially those who think they know it all. I may be diving into that soon though. Sad to hear you'll be moving back to the states. Don't think we'll be able to get that cup of coffee. Best of luck.

At 2:38 AM, Blogger nana said...

hang in there!

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Neha said...

Hats off to you!! If i were instead of you,either i would have got mad or made ma students mad by loosing out all ma patience on them..

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Rarity said...


So funny!

Reminds me of my visit to Russia after studying the language for aprox. three months. I was like:

- Excuse! Where I find good eat?

But, hey, they got the message, and guided us to a great little restaurant!

At 8:59 PM, Blogger just sayin' said...

where are you now?

At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Susan said...

You never mention that you do a killer Italian accent. Also, Spanish. Also, Southern. Also, pubescent boy.

I am seeing you in a couple weeks. If you don't meet me at the airport, look for me at the Coke museum.

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Titx said...

I was told earlier today about your blog and decided to have a look and check what was so funny about it... after the first post I was convinced about your humour and bokmarked it!
Now, if I well understand, you're back home in America... please don't close this blog to soon, I would love to have the time to read it all from the beginning :)


Post a Comment

<< Home