My daughter goes to high school where my sister teaches. On Open House Night I walked by my sister’s classroom and smiled as I listened to her speak. I wished she had been my French teacher, and then I smiled again. In a way she had.
I have two sisters who teach French and Spanish and I have been lucky enough to see them both at work. We three sisters had three of the same teachers for French and Spanish when we went to high school.
When my sisters teach French grammar they channel our AP French Language teacher, a petite woman of enormous energy and enthusiasm. Madame would ask a question and if the student paused before answering Madame’s mouth would open as if she were about to blurt out the response, she would be silent but her body practically quivered with anticipation; she would almost wish the answer into the student’s mind. Both my sisters teach French grammar with vigor and a bounce that nods to this woman.
My sisters shift gears when teaching French Literature. The mouth is no longer the most active part of their face; the eyes become the communicators when there are literary topics to discuss. Like our AP French Literature teacher my sisters’ eyebrows raise to emphasize juicy parts of novels and plays….Catherine Deneuve has nothing on Mesdames.
When my sisters teach Spanish they have our high school Spanish teacher’s passion and firmness – they also copy her stance and repeat her graceful hand motions as they explain sentence structure. My sisters are softer when teaching French, there is more of a whirl and a beat to their Spanish classes that matches our Profesora’s.
I was thinking how it is said that to truly learn a language; one must feel the need to communicate, then I heard a student explain something in French to a classmate. I smiled yet again because that student sounded an awful lot like my sister.