The French Story

Today I attended a panel discussion with Gao Xingjian, an amazing Nobel Prize winner who astoundingly speaks fluent Chinese and French. With my 4 years of French education, I understood no more than 60% of it, which already was a pleasant surprise. More than what he spoke about (which was mostly about his book Soul Mountain, his experience immersing in the cultures and understanding of the world around him), I thought today I should talk about the story of my learning French over the past four years.

In Year 1 and 2, while most of the RGS girls attended class in Bishan, I travelled by bus to Ghim Moh every week because it was nearer to my home. As a result, I was in a class of people from various schools from NUS to ACS to Nan Hua High to NJC. The diversity of cultures made every class lively and exciting (somewhat) and because in lower secondary you don’t feel much pressure from third language (I think) most lessons, to me, were light hearted. The company there motivated me to bring myself to class every Tuesday evening. 

Then in Year 3, from the beginning of the year, as a result of the school’s change in systems and Ghim Moh’s campus moving to Newton, I was automatically transferred to an all-RGS class in Newton. The driving force to drag myself to class every Friday evening became so much less, and so did my attendance. And when I shirk responsibility of doing something I really don’t feel like doing, I have the ability to come up with any excuse I term a ‘theory’ to back my decisions up. So there came the “Late Theory”.

The Late Theory states that when one is late for class already because of unforeseen circumstances such as OM, I should either turn up during the break at 530PM or not go at all lest I disturb the rest of the students or end up disrupting the class. And as a result of that theory, I spent most of my days turning up at 530PM. A 0.8 GPA for French haunted me since Year 2 all the way till recently when the O levels came round the corner. 

So in Year 4, with the help of a wake up call by an impending SOM I was informed of one morning, I knew all these excuses and theories had to go and with the very reasons I began taking French in the beginning I had to find my place in the class and motivation within myself to attend every lesson, Friday evening, however tired I was. And thanks to the company in class who turned out to be the most encouraging and supportive crowd to be around- I did it. Sunday nights were spent with Jerrie and her very intelligent and kind father who tutored us and shared enjoyable French lessons with us and we worked our way to a 1.6 GPA by the end-of-years paper, for which we are extremely proud of. 

And though throughout the four years I have told myself over and over again to “work harder next year”, or made the silly decision of continuing something that I didn’t so look forward to every week just because “I’ve put in the previous amount of effort already” and maybe all those were mistakes, but I’m thankful for the last stride that this girl has pushed me into working hard in and I guess c’est la vie. 

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