“In a decade you’ll be able to learn French by taking a pill” claimed Dr. Nicholas Negroponte, Chairman and Co-founder of the MIT Media Lab, thus opening up a Pandora’s Box for thousands of High School students of the Indian School Curriculum.
And what has that got to do with Indian Schools and their students? Plenty! Follow this post to the end and you’ll know why!
You see, our long-suffering students, when they reach the High School level, not only have to make crucial decisions about their career choices; but along with that they need to take an even more crucial decision about which 3rd language to opt for. And French happens to be one of the options in several Indian schools. So there you are!
The French language is said to be one of the most beautiful languages in the world and I totally agree. Romantic, passionate, expressive and exotic. That’s French!
And, it also happens to be a highly scoring subject as a 3rd language, thus making it an attractive option for Indian parents who want their offspring to be ahead in the rat-race of percentages and grades.
However, along with the above mentioned assets, French is also a tricky language to master (as any foreign language is bound to be of course). The hapless children have to work their way through Grammar rules, pronunciation nuances, Genders (everything is either masculine or feminine!) And the most important of all : the Apostrophe – the punctuation mark – ‘ used to replace a vowel in case of a vowel clash between two words. Failure to use this little bugger when you should is a crime which will cost you precious marks!
How do I know all this! Because I had opted for French myself in my High School days!
In the 8th Grade we had Fr Martin, our gentle and kindly French teacher who would tap us lightly with a scale every time we missed out the Apostrophe. Then we had Madam Myrtle in the 9th Grade who helped make me an outstanding student of French – she made me stand outside the class for half a day for not learning the irregular verbs and their conjugations! Then there was the dashing Instructor at the Alliance Française (French Language Centre) who threw his arms around so much while talking (in French of course) that he brought the writing-board crashing down on himself!
All in all, quite a happening experience for all students – past and present – learning French as a Foreign language! But not for the future students I think, when in 10 years the pill will be in the market. Ahem, I meant the ‘French learning pill’ which Dr Negroponte was talking about. 😉
It could have been brought out when I was in school but never mind. Better late than never! I wonder now!!! Where do we go to get one? The neighborhood Grocery? The Pharmacy? The language section in a Library? Is it to be taken before or after meals? Or at night just before going to bed? You pop a pill, cuddle up in bed and wake up the next morning spouting French.
Somewhat like the woman from Croatia who woke up from a 24-hr coma after an accident, speaking fluent German. However she needed a translator to talk to her parents in her native Croatian because she had completely forgotton that! Oh La La!! Accidents can do that obviously. But not a pill. It’s definitely safe. No side effects. Unless you take two by mistake and wake up sprouting a French beard! That would be a fringe benefit! 🙂
I don’t know about other folks but future Indian students wishing to learn French as a 3rd language will surely be waiting eagerly for the Good Doctor and his French Learning Pill. Good luck to him!!
A gentle reminder to High School children presently studying the language : there’s still time for the pill dearies – a decade at least! So as of now better get back to your conjugations and The Apostrophe!!
Note : I’ve always loved French right from my school days and I still do and I think it’s a très très belle langue. Voila!!