Students from Wayne and Shuster Middle School 'vacationing' in East-End Montreal: "We have no idea what you're saying."
|Students from Wayne and Shuster Middle School 'vacationing' in East-End Montreal: "We have no idea what you're saying."|
On a highly anticipated year-end field trip to
the Montreal region, members of the Grade 8 French Immersion Program
from Wayne and Shuster Middle School in Toronto reported a great deal
of difficulty in communicating.
The class, who had practiced conversational French intensively
for a month before the trip, was dismayed to discover smirks and
widespread responses to their French inquiries in English from the
Québecois upon their arrival in la belle province.
A typical example occurred while the class stopped to eat at an
East-end Montreal casse-crôute after attending a Montreal
"Our teacher, was like, telling us that we have to speak French
for the whole trip anytime we go anywhere," said student Becky
"But at the restaurant, the waitress totally started to laugh
right in my face when I asked for a Racinette to drink. She
switched to English as soon as I said that."
Members of the field trip also cited an exchange with an attendant
at a gas station while the bus was lost in the St. Jerome area,
north of Montreal, as described by class valedictorian Anthony Edouardo.
"I went in and asked, "comment est-ce qu'on trouve
le biodôme?" to the guy behind the counter, and he
just went off to the races," said a flustered Edouardo. He
must have went on for about five minutes, and the only thing I understood
him say was "Bye-bye."
"I was going to ask him if he could draw something to show
me, but I forgot how to say 'map' in French."
Due to the inability of anyone to figure out where exactly it was
they were, the class was forced to spend the night in the Côte-des-Neiges
district of Montreal, instead of the more cosmopolitan downtown
area of the city.
"I was totally looking forward to getting wasted! My brother
told me that in Quebec they sell booze at Mac's Milk and they don't
ID, even if you're, like, 12, but because we got lost, the hotel
we got stuck staying in told us it wasn't safe to go outside at
night, so we had to stay in our hotel and play board games with
the dorks," complained trip participant Josh Mackerel.
"We wanted to sneak out after the chaperones had gone to bed,
but the windows had bars in them."
"Bummer," added Mackerel.
To a person, the class blamed the brunt of their problems on their
teacher, Siobhan Bassett, with many students questioning her French
speaking abilities, as summarized by some of the more outspoken
members of the class:
|Siobhan Bassett: "Je m'appelle Siobhan Bassett. Les chien est dans l'arbre."
"I don't think our teacher even understood what the people
were saying, even though she let on like she did," said Larsen.
"I thought they spoke French in Quebec. Maybe they don't teach
us real French in school. I guess it's like Russian French or something,
man.........." opined Mackerel.
Edouardo speculated that Ms. Bassett doesn't really speak French,
she just tries to make it sound like how the class thinks French
"The way she talks French sounds nothing like the way that
guy in the gas station talked. It's like, no way at all
Although unavailable for comment, Bassett defended her credentials
in a faxed statement, citing a summer spent in France 15 years ago
and her successful completion of a three-day course on teaching
a foreign language in 1992.
Posted on June 29th, 2001