by Lyne des Roberts alias La Dame dragon
Today is a day off… I took Seema and her 17 year old daughter for lunch at The Marshes Golf Club (2 minutes from my place). Food was excellent, the view magnificent and the patrons, well… awesome! Two of the Backstreet Boys were there playing golf (there will be a concert tonight at the Scotia Bank Place)… apparently they were giving away tickets and backstage passes! Sam was on the verge of passing out! She certainly regretted her stop to the restrooms: those precious few minutes would have allowed her to actually meet with the guys when they dropped off their cart!!! Seema and I, being older, were not sharing her enthusiasm… but we certainly had fun watching her! She was told every time there is a concert at the Scotia Bank Place, the stars stop by The Marshes to play golf: she is now seriously thinking of getting a job there next summer!
Now back to French… and everything it entails! Sometimes I do wonder… Do I spend too much time teaching grammar? Some would argue that, what is the most important, is being able to communicate efficiently orally… I certainly do agree on that! But it is equally important to communicate efficiently in writing. Around here, written French is really poor and… it bugs me!
For a long time, studying languages has been depreciated : in school, intelligent students were encouraged to go in Sciences or, if they were really rebuffed by that field, in Social Sciences. Now that suddenly communication has a value, people are asked to know how to write correctly overnight! Francophones have a hard time writing in their mother tongue, therefore is it fair to ask Anglophones to master written French as a second language?
Personally, I see language learning as a package: speaking, understanding, writing and reading are inter-connected… And the mere idea of seing my trainees as illiterate products kills me! And… without the grammar basics, they cannot speak anyways!
With civil servants, I do not ask myself the question twice: they are trained to pass tests! Writing and reading are part of their learning (like it or not) and… those tests would not be more difficult if they were tailored for Francophones! There is a dichotomy though: their employer want them to be excellent in French yet that very same employer cannot communicate efficiently… in their everyday simple communications as well as on their numerous web sites. In my book, a web site that did not passed in the hands of a good editor or proof reader is like a boutique with dirty shop windows: I really do not feel like entering it and, if I find the courage to, I do not want to stay…
As for badly written job ads… would you apply? I would not! I will not even sign with snowblowing contractors when there are spelling mistakes in their flyers!!! For me, it shows a flagrant lack of professionalism and I have my doubts regarding their business success… Looking at the French version of the Public Service of Canada job posts, I really do wonder… But hey! It is the government… no matter what, they will survive!
I know how difficult it is for Anglos to learn French grammar (as a matter of fact, I do not know many Francophones who master it!)… but it is a necessary pain in their learning process… I certainly do try my best to alleviate the weight of all the non sense rules French has carried on thoughout centuries, but I do not ignore the most difficult ones either… and the day I will be asked to stop teaching grammar, I will retire… French is French… If you are up to the challenge, you will enjoy learning it… and if you are not, well… learn Esperanto!
“Quand on ne peut revenir en arrière, on ne doit se préoccuper que de la meilleure façon d’aller de l’avant.”
Paulo Coelho, écrivain brésilien