The essay revolves around the serious subject of learning a foreign language. The events are described from the protagonist’s point of view, thus influencing the verbal tone, as well as the way we as objective readers experience the protagonist’s stay in Paris. Because of the strict teacher, the verbal tone is generally negative and partly characterized by misspellings such as “Were you always this palicmkrexis” she asked (l. 71. These misspellings are a device used to implement humor in the story, but they also add an amount of hopelessness, in terms of learning the foreign language. Another rhetorical device used to reinforce the protagonist’s point of view, is the use of amplifications, like in the end: “talk me more, you, plus, please, plus.”. In this context, the repeated use of plus and please is used to convince the reader about the protagonist’s view and idea of learning the language. We’re indirectly being told that his skills are developing, and that the story has a happy-ending despite the general negativity and despair shown in quotes like this ”Huddled in the hallways and making the most of our pathetic French, my fellow students and I engaged in the sort of conversations commonly overheard in refugee camps. “Sometime me cry alone at night””.
Sedaris’ attitude towards learning foreign languages is positive but serious, even though he is encountering many difficulties such as his intimidating teacher and weak grammar level. The teaching methods are rough and intimidating, but eventually they end up paying off.
David Sedaris is aware of the gains of learning a new language. The protagonist is demonstrating a great seriousness while attempting and preparing for the language-school. “I took a month long French class before leaving New York.”. Apart from preparing himself, the protagonist moved all the way to Paris to attend the class. To continue his dedication, the protagonist would fancy a good, friendly and effective working-environment. This is however not what he finds- instead he finds an intimidating teacher. “though we were forbidden to speak any English, the teacher would occasionally use us to practice any of her five fluent languages” (l.86-87). 766. Besides being intimidated by their teacher, the students are only allowed to speak French, which naturally limits them. Although the protagonist is exposed to these unpleasant methods, Sedaris wishes to create focus on disciplined and challenging education. If Sedaris wanted to criticize the disciplined and unpleasant teaching, he’d not write a happy ending, in which the protagonist succeeds in learning the language: “the world opened up, and it was with great joy that I responded.” (l. 127.) Sedaris clearly supports the learning of new languages. Although strict learning methods are unpleasant, they can pay off in the end. And when they do- the world will open up.
It’s difficult to judge the teaching methods used in the story, as I’ve never experienced them myself. Without further evidence, I believe that they are old-fashioned and unfit for modern teaching. My only personal experiences are from the Danish high-school and primary school. Here, the teachers are working toward creating a creative, friendly and enjoyable teaching-environment. This approach is characterized is modern school, especially in the western part of the world. I am not to say, whether these new and creative methods are as effective as the more traditional ones, but I believe the different teaching methods have been carefully researched and adapted to give the students maximum benefit. On the other hand, strict methods like the one Sedaris brings forth, are still practiced other parts of the world. After personally experiencing the Chinese (and partly the Japanese) school systems, I found myself able to semi-relate them to the one used in the essay . In the essay, Sedaris implies that learning a new language should not necessarily be fun, and that you should rather just begin studying in order to reap the benefits. I’m afraid I must partly disagree on that. I believe a social and pleasant environment to be of great importance for the student, but I also encourage focus and hard, boring work. Otherwise you won’t get far. As an extension of the creative teaching-methods, I also support ‘opening the world up’, instead of ‘waiting for it to open up.’ You can do so by travelling abroad, attending language schools, or simply conversate with your friend or neighbor.
David Sedaris’ essay can be understood and interpreted in various ways. I’ve chose to interpret it as a story, debating whether the old-fashioned teaching methods are effective or not. With the use of humor and a series of diverse rhetorical devices, Sedaris presents the topic in a creative way, while letting us readers make up our own minds about a conclusion to the topic. In the end, Sedaris clearly states that no matter which way you learn a new language, the world will eventually open up for you, and you will feel great joy when responding. The teaching methods might not be the best, and they should perhaps be put under debate, but the aftermath when succeeding your education is nevertheless wonderful.
Me Talk Pretty
Paragraph 1 line 7: "amplifications" should be "amplification".
Also right after "amplifications" the sentence continues. I would start a new sentence instead.
Paragraph 1 line 9: "idea" should be "the idea"
Paragraph 1 line 10: No need for a comma after developing and it doesn't need "happy-ending" to be hyphenated.
Paragraph 2 line 1: "is demonstrating" should be "demonstrates"
Eh looked it over. A lot of words are hypenated when they shouldn't be.
Paragraph 2 line 9: "wishes to create focus on disciplined and challenging education" is an awkward sentence. Hmmmm.
I would try "wishes to focus on a disciplined and challenging education ". Figuring out what you want to say with this sentence is difficult.
Paragraph 3 line 4-5: "This approach is characterized is modern school" would work better as:
"This approach is characterized by a modern school"
Paragraph 4 line 1: "chose" should be "chosen".
Paragraph 4 line 6-7: The last sentence goes on for a bit too long.
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