Posted by: vlibrizzi | September 1, 2009

First Days: A Reflection

It seems a bit funny that my first day back at the Sorbonne falls on the same day that I’d return to my classroom in the US to start another year of teaching. This time, instead of being the teacher, I’m the student. It’s a nice change—an interesting reversal. 

Being a student again made me remember what first days are really like—I dread them.

I would have nightmares for a full week before school started when I was teaching. It was always the same recurring dream: I showed up for class, with 30 eager students waiting to learn, and I completely blanked and forgot everything. 

So, this time, being a student again, I realized that the teacher fears are pretty similar to student nightmares….especially when one is a student in a foreign country. For example, for the past few nights I’ve had nightmares that I would be called on and forget how to speak French, or that (gasp!) I’d have to stand in front of the room to give a presentation and make horrible mistakes.

Luckily for me, none of that happened today. I showed up for my 10 am class (I have to get used to getting up early in the morning again. Ugh!) and practiced my speaking skills in phonetics class. Then, at 11, I was ushered into another classroom where my teacher reviewed what she said is the most common problem for French students: articles.

I felt like I was back in February at the Sorbonne on Day 1,  learning when to use “le, la, or les” vs. “de or des.” But the review was good…and necessary, since I realized that I make lots of article faux pas often. 

In reality, my first day back at the Sorbonne, was so much better than my actual first day there…over 7 months ago! I can’t believe how much I’ve learned. For example, now I can finally follow along while the teacher speaks in rapid-fire French, and I sometimes, only sometimes, can respond coherently to a question when called upon.

But I’m still not ready to stand up and speak in front of the class…

…that still gives me nightmares.


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