Today, I had my very first italki session with a French teacher. I was so nervous that I actually thought of rescheduling. Plus, I have a headache since after lunch so I wasn’t feeling too well. But I thought I had to suck it up and get this over and done with. After all, the start is always the hardest part, right?
Earlier today, my teacher Clarisse emailed me some materials to be covered in the session. I made sure that I read through them…but some of the stuff are a little too advanced for me. Interestingly, she also uses parts of Alter Ego+, which was the book that I used in my Alliance Francaise classes.
Before the session, I made sure I finished the day’s chores and then I tested my internet connection and headphones. I have the study materials saved to my desktop and I have a notebook and pen too. This is my makeshift battle station. I still haven’t set up a proper workspace in my room since I moved in. The “desk” is actually a folding ironing board Everything is set up on my bed. I turned off the fan because the mic is picking up too much noise from it. Good thing the night was cool and I didn’t need ventilation.
The session started promptly at 21:00. She started asking me questions in French: how was I doing, which city I live in, which country, how I am studying FrenchAfter that, we tackled the materials. First was “D’accord, Pas d’accord”. In this exercise, I have to pic a statement from a list of 10, choose one of 2 options and then justify my choice. The statement was “La vie en ville est plus agreable que la vie a la campagne”. I didn’t know what “campagne” was but luckily, I still had some of my Alliance Francaise knowledge in here somewhere so I managed to say “Comment on dit campange en anglais”? Literally, how does one say “campagne” in English? Countryside. OK.
I said I agreed with the statement because life in the city is convenient. For example (par exemple!), there are trains, more jobs, more schools. Blah blah blah. Then she asked me what I didn’t like about the countryside. Well, I couldn’t think of anything, because in real life, I love the countryside so I cannot find fault in it! Clarisse was kind enough to skip the question and we moved on to a bit of question and answer. She asked me where I live and told me to describe my house and my neighborhood. During some parts of my monologue, I was frantically digging up the Coffee Break French stuff in my head. There was one lesson where you had to describe your neighborhood. I managed to say “Il y a deux piscines et un terrain de basket”. Something like that. As I go on, she would interrupt only to correct the definite articles that I used and to correct my pronunciation. But other than that, she just let me ramble on.
Another exercise is listening, this time from the Alter Ego+ series. As luck would have it, we had to do numbers. >_< In any language I study, I always suck at numbers. I had to ask her to repeat the audio several times because I couldn’t come up with the correct answers. Thankfully, it was a short exercise that also included email addresses and things like arobase and tiret are still in my brain.
At the end of the session, I felt my headache getting worse but no matter. Clarisse was very nice and professional. Her compliments and feedback were very encouraging. She advised me to take only 30-minute sessions until I feel confident enough and then I can go for hour-long lessons. I am going to schedule sessions with her for December, maybe twice a week if I still cannot get a Hungarian teacher.
Clarisse will also send the session notes with her comments and will provide a short homework, usually a writing exercise. She is also open to email correspondence in between sessions, so a student can freely contact her before and after a class.
If you want to learn French via italki, I highly recommend Clarisse. She may look stern but she’s really not! Besides, beginners need not fret: she will speak in English if you are having a hard time. She is very patient and is constantly adjusting to your level. I chose her because of the “add-ons” she provides. Like notes after a class, homework and email contact. You can, of course, try other teachers if you want. But the feedback that Clarisse has received from her past and present students are more than enough to convince me that she is the teacher for me. If you want to read more about her, click HERE.
Here is a video of Clarisse introducing herself and what she can teach you.