My interest in French language and culture can be traced back to my first prolonged stay in France in 1981. I was placed with a modest family in the Southwestern part of the country, where I learned quickly that there was another way to live other than my affluent background. I was introduced to simple folk who were patient with my broken French and who voted for socialist Mitterrand. This political tendency, part and parcel of the French psyche at the time, provided another way of seeing life socialized medicine, government backing of corporations, importance of the working class and other leftist beliefs very different from my home neighborhood's support of Ronald Reagan.
At 15, I became hooked on the French culture (and political ideas). France suddenly meant much more to me than the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral. Because of this unexpected interest, I need to be able to communicate in the new surroundings. I thus became obsessed with the French language learning along the way that a new language is a new way of seeing the world, not unlike my hosts' politics in 1981.
I spent another summer in France in 1983, with another French family. There, I worked in a plastics manufacturing plant as a translator. By then, I had declared my college major at Hamilton College as French. I subsequently founded a French language newspaper on campus at Connecticut College where I transferred, and was awarded the French Department Prize for Outstanding Achievement at graduation. After my BA at Conn College, I decided to do an MA in French language, literature and civilization in Paris. Through a year-long period of study at Nanterre, a French university in the Paris university system, under the auspices of Middlebury College, I became fluent in French and very conversant in certain French and Francophone literatures. My master's thesis focused on the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and his commitment to the working class (a socialist awareness from back in 1981!). After Paris, I enrolled in another master's program in French Studies at New York University, where I studied social sciences of France and Francophone regions.
My experience as a student of French politics, language and literature has lent itself well to my teaching. I have taught language and culture (French) for more than 15 years at the high school and university levels. I believe that when you are teaching (or learning) a language, you necessarily have to study the culture where the language is spoken. Literature helps immensely in gaining knowledge of the culture, historical or otherwise. I teach French language, of course, but I cannot circumvent the culture from which it springs. For example, it is not for nothing that there is no equivalent to Ms. in French. There is only Monsieur, Madame and Mademoiselle. The reason for this is complicated, having to do with the linguistic obstinacy of the Acadmie Franaise, a national organization which moderates the French language. So I would state that reason in explaining the fact (to older and/or more advanced students) that the Ms. equivalent is missing in French.
In conclusion, I think I can be a great teacher/tutor of French because I fuse the purely linguistic (grammar, verbs, agreement, etc.) with my personal experiences, both academic and non-academic, in French-speaking regions where I learned the importance of cultural, political and institutional cues as well. NB: More often than not, however, thelinguistic portion needs to come first, when first learning the language. Hobbies: writing, film, theater, swimming, reading.
Undergraduate Degree: Connecticut College - Bachelors, French
Graduate Degree: Middlebury College - Masters, French Language, Literature and Civilization
writing, reading, swimming, film, theater, politics