Afterword

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Just before the end of last year, I wrote what was supposed to be “the last chapter” of je parle américain as you know it, because I planned to transform the blog into something entirely new. As it turns out, I haven’t made any progress with that, so je parle américain has been quiet of late, just “sitting on the shelf” collecting dust — to stay with the literary theme. Sometimes, though, events transpire that simply demand you pick up the pen again — or return to the keyboard as the case may be — and actually finish the story …

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In Support of Total Immersion

A French American Life

I grew up during the old-school era of second-language learning. We filled in the blanks, conjugated verbs, and memorized vocabulary lists. Entry level classes, and sometimes even intermediate and advanced classes, were taught in English. Speaking in the second language was a part of those classes, but not a huge part, and when we did speak, it was awkwardly and amidst classmates making fun of each other’s accents.

Today, language learning is (thankfully) progressing toward total immersion. In my college classes, and in the high school and junior high classes that I’ve observed, instructors use the target language to teach. Students are expected to participate by speaking, and by writing and reading in the foreign language. Oh, how far we’ve come! It seems so obvious that to learn a language, the best method is to be immersed in that language. After all, that’s how we learn our first language, right? Hearing it…

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On to the next chapter …

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If you’re new to je parle américain, you may not have noticed it, but if you’re a long-term fan, you’ve certainly remarked that the presses seem to have shut down recently. As a matter of fact, the last article appearing on the blog was published almost six months ago! That’s a pretty long hiatus, I’ll admit. There was a time not too long ago when I would have been anxiety-ridden if I’d let just one week go by without publishing something new for my readers. Why the big change? Well, I’ve “blamed” the recent creative drought primarily on my job as an English teacher, which I started in January. “The demands on my time are just too great … I don’t have those long periods of time anymore to really delve into a subject like I used to … I’m just too tired to write after getting home from work.”

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All of those statements are true … as is the simple, old adage that all good things must come to an end. Continue reading On to the next chapter …

The Fabulous Destiny of …

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© 2008, Ryan James

Four years ago today, I left the US with a one-way ticket on Air France flight 039, 130 pounds of luggage in tow, a student visa in my passport, a heart full of love, and a head full of big dreams. So much has happened since that summer afternoon, and the last year of my life in France has witnessed some of the biggest changes so far. Continue reading The Fabulous Destiny of …

Celebrating 225 Years! What do you have planned?

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Today is my sixth Bastille Day (or as the French call it, “la Fête du Quatorze Juillet” or “la Fête Nationale“) on French soil. Although it’s a big anniversary — the French are celebrating 225 years of no more Bastille — I sort of missed out on the fireworks last night. I had bailed on a dinner/fireworks-viewing party earlier in the day because I was feeling under the weather, and our apartment in La Courneuve offered a less than optimal vantage point for the municipal fireworks display. I could still hear them, though, as well as all the fire crackers being tossed in the street below my window! There have been other events, of course, including the big parade down the Champs Élysées this morning, but we didn’t watch that either. The only thing we have planned, in fact, is a long walk in a park to get some exercise and fresh air. It seems like catching the French air force’s practice flights over Le Bourget yesterday afternoon is about as festive as it’s going to get for us this year … Continue reading Celebrating 225 Years! What do you have planned?

Fourth Fourth

Captain America © 2011 Samuel Michael Bell

Today is my fourth Fourth of July in France. For my first Fourth, I got on a soapbox. For my second Fourth, I waxed sentimental about who was eating my apple pie. For my third Fourth, I tried to make you laugh. So … what’s on the agenda for my fourth Fourth?

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So Much More Than a Paperweight

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Chapter 3 of
My Life as an English Teacher in France

A few weeks ago, we commemorated the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. I decided not to write a new article about that momentous day; instead, I shared two earlier articles about the history of the landings and about my first visit to Omaha Beach. Normally, that would have been the end of je parle américain‘s D-Day commemoration, but something subsequently happened at work that I need to share … Continue reading So Much More Than a Paperweight

Paris Meets the Plains

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My French mother-in-law is absolutely enamored of Native American culture: the music, the dance, the clothing, the history. So, when French Mother’s Day rolled around this year, we did something very out of the ordinary for us. Instead of having dinner or lunch around the family table, we took a trip to the Musée du Quai Branly to see an exhibition on the Plains Indians of the American West. Knowing my mother-in-law, there really was no better way for us to celebrate the day with her. It was a special moment for me as well — as her American son-in-law — to share our mutual appreciation of the native peoples of my homeland.

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“humble before their sacrifice”

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Here in France, it’s hard to miss the commencement of the 70th-anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings, from traffic problems all over Paris to a friend’s mobile uploads of Her Majesty’s arrival at Gare du Nord this afternoon. In the midst of all that, I want to take a quiet, solemn moment to remember the sacrifice made by so many on that day and in the weeks and months that followed to liberate France from Nazi occupation. Much has been written — and much is surely being written even as I type away here — on the significance of the day. Instead of adding to that (or possibly detracting from it), I’ll just share the words and images from my last two efforts to express the complex mix of emotions the day evokes for me. (Click the title links or the photos to access the two articles.) Continue reading “humble before their sacrifice”