Tuesday, November 14, 2006

English people learning French

Yesterday I got hold of the BBC series "excuse my French" on DVD. It's a kind of reality TV programme about three "celebrities" (a shamed ex-football manager sacked from his TV job for racist comments, a has-been TV presenter and a young comedian struggling to be actually funny) who have come to France in order to learn French.

It's quite entertaining to watch these people humiliate themselves for the television, while not making any real progress in French. Their attitude is typically English: this is hard, I don't want to do it, why can't everybody just speak English, my teachers are going about it the wrong way, etc.

The football manager was starting as a complete beginner and found it really hard to get to grips with his pronunciation and remembering new vocabulary. In the programme, however, his teacher was quite hard on him for not putting together complete sentences. She keeps telling him to use verbs! On this point, I'm afraid I have to take sides with Big Ron, the football manager. In one scene he attends a local football match to help the team with their tactics. Using the limited vocabulary he has, he succeeds in getting his ideas across, the team adopts his tactics and score a goal.

Big Ron has achieved the ultimate goal in language learning - communicating ideas. He didn't use any verbs, and he didn't make a coherent sentence, but he succeeded nevertheless. As 90% of communication is non-verbal - facial expressions, gestures, body language, intonation - producing a well-formed sentence is of little importance, while a good vocabulary is essential.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think a very good complement to this kind of sites is to practise with a real teacher like in Linkua, live language tutoring. Classes are done via videoconference