A long series of stories in 8 weeks


Enrolling French at Alliance Française de Manille for one ‘session’ is already a big story; I do not know where to start even if it was only eight weeks.

I like the idea of trying new things, pushing the limits to the next level. Skipping several modules of French without prior exposure and academic background is a big adventure. I took the placement exam last December and attended the first day last January without knowing anyone at all.

Having mixed feelings is an integral part of a true adventure. I initially felt nervousness because it was my first time to hear everyone around me talking in French, and I am required to talk in French for the first time and to reply appropriately. Naturally, I was worried that I am already left behind in their lessons, yet I still opened my vulnerable self to potentially humiliating myself in front of other people (or worse, strangers). I was also worried that my mom might discover that I am spending on tuition instead of saving them. She still does not know this (or so I hope), but she might have some idea. This factor adds to the adventure.

Having different backgrounds (e.g., law, business, IT, tourism, international relations), different countries, and different reasons for studying French (has a French husband, has a French girlfriend, for the love of the French cuisine, for no particular reason), the class can be as diverse as the movie L’Auberge Espagnol. Despite those differences, friendships have been developed because in the end, we are like-minded in other ways. It feels like I have known them for a long time. Because there are a lot of topics that can promote human bonding to the class, it feels like experiencing the good parts of High School and College again. Every after class, I would go out with some of my classmates for dinner, that is why I usually go home very late, but my mom does not seem to be suspicious about it.

The main feedback of the students about the teacher is that his method of intimidation is so effective that the students would definitely be forced to study. Even if he seems less friendly on the surface, he is unexpectedly friendly. We can casually chat with him about anything outside class hours about anything, including: He wants to teach forever (I was inspired when he said « you would not notice the time passing by if you love what you are doing »). He likes the idea of talking to people, instilling fear on the students (I am a victim) and imposing high standards.

While I was eating at an Italian restaurant with a classmate and the teacher an hour before the last meeting for that module. While I was away from the table for some minutes and busy answering a phone call, the teacher mentioned that I really have what it takes to take the next module. It feels good to hear from a brutally frank teacher.

Getting the lessons is what I have been wanting to do since last year. My module should be just a review because I know many of the lessons already, but I learned a lot of new things along the way, and it increased my confidence through practice. I was only after the lessons, so I did not expect to get more than what I wished for. The entire experience did not feel like it all happened in eight weeks. I am still a basic speaker, but I feet that my knowledge has truly increased one more step. Enrolling a module of French in media res is worth the risk, indeed.

The best way to celebrate the last day is to eat together at a French restaurant. After the class, we (including the teacher) had a dinner at Cuillére (I prefer being busy chewing over smiling):

Endless words are not enough to summarize the experience. It is a sad reality that students get fewer and fewer as the modules become higher. Some classmates stopped halfway in the module, Vicky and Luis would not enroll next session, Remy would go back to India then study at New York University, Ryan would work in the US months from now, Kat would transfer to the weekend schedule, Thelma would not continue after two modules, and I am not yet sure whether I would continue studying this next session because I need more money and I must fix other things in my life too.