Thursday, May 10, 2007

Rant: My French Education

Twenty years ago, Ontario children were taught French by four cyclopean blue coneheads named Zip, Zap, Zoup, and Zop (from time-to-time a clown-faced panhandler helped out). Daily, we would recite dialogues involving les extras-terrestres, through which we learned translations for such useful words as "eraser" and "mushrooms". Not once did these skits require us to respond to the questions, "But sir, what size of beer would you like?" or "Madame, do you realize that you've ordered two sandwiches?". Nor was I ever taught how to say, "I believe your wicker chair has collapsed beneath my weight." I think that Zip, Zap, Zoup, and Zop have been dropped from the provincial curriculum, replaced by a talking pineapple, and I think young people traveling abroad are better off for it.

16 comments:

webber said...

Interesting... we had Telefrancais, with a talking pineapple. Though we did enjoy Sol the clown, the vagrant you refer to.

Though I think french education in Ottawa was a tad more robust than Etobicoke.

David said...

True, we didn't start French until grade 4 whereas Ottawa students started in kindergarden. This left me helpless when I started high school in Ottawa and the teacher was facilitating debates on gun control and capital punishment in French.

All joking aside, I always find it funny how much easier it is to understand Parisian French than Quebec French. I'm helpless watching Radio-Canada, but I'm able to comprehend most of a broadcast from France.

webber said...

Ah, that is because we are taught Parisian French in school.

David said...

Seems as random as teaching us Maltese.

SGT DUB said...

Yes, we are never fully prepared for what is in store for us as we travel this globe. For this reason, I avoid wicker chairs in France.

David said...

There's a restaurateur in the Paris Latin Quarter who wishes I had as well.

kip said...

Fucking hell, why you's got to be so rude?

Road Hammer said...

I think that's spelled "youse", Kip.

David said...

Maybe the spelling depends on whether you're speaking in Quebec Patois or Rural Ontarian.

Road Hammer said...

Speaking of which, I've coined a term for the abominable quality of French spoken in these parts:

"Gatinese".

It doesn't seem to be catching on, though.

Alec said...

HA HA HA...I will never forget "les OVNIs dessus don Waterdown, Ontario"--Our curriculum was OK for weather and the like, but it wasn't until university that the truly useful stuff started being used.

Also, the easiest French to understand is spoken in Belgium...like Canadian English, free from any strong accent.

David said...

And they put mayo on their fries...

Anonymous said...

"L'exercice un: Vrai ou Faux"
------------------------------

Alec Said:
"...like Canadian English, free from any strong accent..."

If you consider the accent used by members of the american popular media to be neutral, then most Canadians certainly do have strong accents.

This Rant was funny, I totally miss Zip, Zop and Zoup ... I looked for it on YouTube but I couldn't find it.

Tara Lynne Franco said...

I remember these characters, but strangely none of my friends who were in the same class do. I would love a picture of these guys. Has anyone seen them?

Anonymous said...

LMAO!!! Thank you for this post, it has totally made my day! :)

Theatre Geek said...

Yes!!! I live in Lake Charles, Louisiana and we used those books. We had French class starting in 4th grade when I attended elementary. We didn't have a choice, we just had it as French is part of Louisiana culture. Of course, I didn't mind it at all!

From part of a conversation I had:

I know the phrase "what is it?" in French VERY WELL.
"What is it?" "A Supermarket?" "No, it's a stadium"
"qu'Eest-ce que c'est?" "Un supermarche?" "No, il ya une stade.:

(I was talking about the language and the aliens).