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Cours de français – Sampling high school French class


Students immerse themselves in a new romantic language

A new year promotes new challenges and opportunities to learn about people, skills, hobbies, and more. Each month Feather journalist Kemya Hopkins challenges herself to go outside of her comfort zone. In this article, Hopkins challenged herself to know more about the language of France and how students are learning this difficult language. 

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Worldwide, roughly 267 million people use the romantic language of French as their dominate dialect. At Fresno Christian, students are given the chance to learn the language for the first time in 13 years.  This language is one of the most romantic languages in the world, derived from Vulgar Latin and is taught by English teacher Melanie Portwood. 

After the bell rang with students in their seats, the reciting began… “Bonjour Classe, comment allez- von. Ten seconds was all it took to realize I was in over my head. After five minutes I actually walked out thinking I’m good, this is all I needed when my adviser met me in the hallway and reminded me that the uncomfort is the challenge and I needed to head back. This was going to be a long 50 min.

Portwood speaks fluent French for the majority of each class and students recite back for daily practice. As I looked at student textbooks, words looked fascinating using hard to pronounce vowels and syllables. The French language is frustrating to comprehend compared my experience in Spanish. Every word used was hard to make sense of and unlike the English language. Spelling French words… so difficult! 

Sophomore Meilani Gilmore hopes taking French will help in the future. 

“It’s cool to learn a new language and the French language is really beautiful to hear and to listen to,” Gilmore said, “I wanted to take French because I personally think it would benefit me, I want to go to France one day and I thought it would be helpful.”

What Gilmore admires most about the language is that it’s poetic and that the words are pleasing to the ears. 

“It’s a new language that I haven’t learned before. It’s fun to learn new words and how to pronounce and write them.” Gilmore said, “I’ve wanted to learn French for a while, I went to Haiti and they speak Creole and that’s a mix of French and African. 

Freshman and Junior English teacher Melanie Portwood explains how thrilled she is to be teaching a language she loves. 

[/media-credit] Melanie Portwood’s love for the French language began as a teenager and only increased after visiting the country.

“I started taking French junior year in high school, I learned the language and realized that I was kinda good at it, when I visited France I knew I needed it in my life.” Portwood said. “I added French to my teaching credential in college and I’ve been teaching French ever since, except the three years I’ve been here.” 

According to Portwood, learning French involves both parts of your brain: listening and understanding on one half and speaking on the other. What Portwood loves the most about teaching French is sharing the history and culture, she also enjoys teaching students something new and challenging. 

“I love promoting the culture, not a lot of people are familiar with French culture and it’s interesting teaching students about it.” Portwood explained, “It’s like music, it’s a creative process, the more you learn about other cultures the more you realize what we all have in common.”  

For any students interested in taking this language class next year, my personal thoughts is too assure yourself that you want to be invested in learning this language. French is tough to learn, sounds so beautiful when spoken but it takes time to get the hang of it, as with any new language. With that being said, I think learning this language gives students determination and something challenging to grasp. Although comprehending French was extremely frustrating and difficult it was a refreshing experience to sit in a struggle.

With this challenge complete, I’ve learned something new and gained a stronger understanding of the French language. Stay tuned as I take on my next challenge that leads me to the cheer squad.  

To read about my previous challenge, go to Senior Ashlee Gallegos reflects on her time at FCS.

To read more from The Feather, go to FC Serve Day 2022 or Beautify Fresno works to address citizen concerns.

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Kemya Hopkins
Kemya Hopkins, Journalist
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