Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Afternoon With Inspector Clousseau

Have you seen The Pink Panther?  The recent one with Steve Martin?  I watch it every year with 7th grade and I just about fall down laughing every time.  I love Steve Martin and he is so hysterical in that role.

If you haven't seen it, you may not get the humor in this post.  I'll try my best.

Inspector Clousseau is a bumbling idiot and one of his most outrageous problems is his accent.  It is the worst impression of a French accent you will ever hear.  The worst. 

One of his problems is that he cannot say certain words at all.  And so, he brings in an accent coach to help him.  She sits there and painstakingly tries to get him to say words properly but try as she might, he says them horribly and can't imagine what the problem is.  One of those words is hamburger and it happens to get him in big trouble later in the movie.

Well, yesterday, I believe I worked with the very Inspector himself.  I have a new student who never had French and has no clue.  He doesn't try to have a clue.  It's been a tough 3 months and I finally blew the whistle and called home.

Since I am the first French teacher these kids have, I am more concerned with their vocabulary knowledge than perfect pronunciation.  I know, some people are gasping, but I'd rather they learn the words and then they can fix their pronunciation later. I know I still do.  It's a lifelong thing.  And God knows many of you out there hated your language teacher because all she cared about was how well you said it and to this day, you can't speak it at all (I hear this from parents all the time).

I tolerate a lot of very bad accents for the sake of good grammar.  And then I sometimes have mental breakdowns over common, every day words and we all have a good laugh.  And then they still pronounce it horribly. 

 Example:  BONJOUR

You said bonJOUR.  The accent is on the JOUR, not the BON.  SOmehow, I get a at least one kid every year who says BONjour and then it starts to spread and the next thing I know, the kid is in 8th grade and he has a band of others who also say BONjour.  But I digress.

So I called home and he stayed today.  This is how it went:

Me:  Ok, you have a choice, is it mon, ma or mes (pronouned moan, mah or may).  ?

Him:  ummm, grumble mumble, ummm MION.

Me:  you have a choice, is it mon, ma or mes (pronouned moan, mah or may)?

Him:  mumble umm MION.

Me:  is it mon, ma or mes?

Him:  MION

Me:  is it masculine, feminine or plural?

Him:  masculine

Me:  ok, so is it mon, ma or mes?

Him:  mion

Me:  Mon?

Him:  yeah, mon

a few sentences later:

Me:  ok, you said it's masculine, is it mon, ma or mes?

Him:  MION.

Me:  did you say it's masculine?

Him:  yeah

Me:  ok, is it moooooon, maaaaaaa or meeeeeeees?

Him:  MION

Oh my effing God HELP ME NOW!!!

a few minutes later:

Me:  is it mon, ma or mes?

Him:  MON!

Me:  GREAT!!  Perfect!  Now, is this one masculine, feminine or plural?

Him:  masculine

Me:  oui! so which one is it?

Him:  ummmm, ma, no I mean MION!


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