What’s It Like To Be A French Teacher

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Ashlyn Long, Staff

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Growing up in Michigan, Madame Kabagabu was very involved at her school. She would often be seen performing in orchestra, singing, or participating in all the sports her school had to offer. She attended Hope College, a private liberal arts school in Michigan. Although education and teaching were always an interest of hers, her love for it really took off in her college days. She took a class in education and they put her in a small classroom full of kindergartners. Let’s just say, sticky fingers and snotty noses did not appear to be her forte. 

“Kindergartners are very young, and they are very dependent, and they need help for a lot of things” said Kabagabu. “I wasn’t a fan of that, but I did like the idea of coming into a classroom every day seeing the students learn and grow.” 

       Her decision to specialize in French when she was in college was not a hard one. She had taken French all throughout high school and she knew she definitely wanted to somehow incorporate French into her life. Once she realized that she definitely wanted to pursue education, it was very easy for her to realize that French was an area that she was comfortable teaching, and was something that she could easily imagine pursuing further.

       For Ms. Kabagabu, life as Cypress Falls’ only French teacher is a mix of emotions. She describes having a love-hate relationship with the position, describing it as being “an island of one, so it’s really nice to be in control of the whole program.” She says that she is really grateful to be the only French teacher because she feels that the connection is stronger, not only between her and her students but between the students and the classes. She appreciated that she has the ability to make the classes more fluid so that instead of the students feeling as if they are starting in one class and being pushed into a completely different one, it’s instead like they are starting French 1 and building up to French 2 and then French 3 without so much of a gap. She also says that being the only French teacher can be “a little lonely, I’m not going to lie, it can be a little isolating. There are seven [or] eight Spanish teachers here, and they have a team and they can all talk to each other in Spanish. I can’t really talk to anyone else here in French. As far as I know, no one else in the school speaks fluent French, which makes me the only fluent French speaker here.

       Ms. Kabagabu says that she loves what she teaches and she feels that it’s a very fun subject. In order to keep students entertained, you can often find her using a variety of techniques, including watching music videos in French every Wednesday to better incorporate French music and culture into her students’ lives. She tends to shy away from worksheets and bookwork; instead, she encourages her students to get up, move around, and talk to a partner. Rather than her lecturing the whole period, she instead has her students teach themselves and others. She refers to the wide variety of materials that she can use to teach her class as a means for her success. Since the class is all about French, and French is all about culture, she is not limited by what she can use when interacting with her class and getting them excited to learn.

 

French is a global language, and the number of French speakers is increasing as we speak. French is often used as a business language and is notably present at events such as the Olympics. In an ever-changing world, it is valuable to have learned French.

 “Honestly, life is so crazy, and you never know where you’re going to end up and you never know who you’re going to meet, and having this language in your back pocket can be very useful. It’s been very useful in my life, simply just being a French speaker, just because of the situations I’ve been in and the people I have encountered.”