Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 5 months ago

Why isn't my French teacher's French that good?

She's American and has never been to any French-speaking country. I've been to France and Switzerland for two weeks. And I never heard anyone pronouncing bonjour as "bon-chore." Her pronunciation is so American. And pourquoi as "pore-kwa." It's like bonjour is an American word, so she pronounces it as if it were. But it's not. It's a French word.

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  • alan P
    Lv 7
    5 months ago

    I can't comment on your school. Trying to use French sounds is an important part of speaking French. If you teacher is unable to speak French with anything like a normal French accent then she should at least recognise that and play you recordings of native speakers that you can copy.

  • Zac Z
    Lv 7
    5 months ago

    I grew up in Germany and at our schools virtually all language teachers were German. And consequently had a German accent (sometimes more, sometimes less pronounced) that they automatically passed on.

    I suppose, that is a normal thing.

    Also, in German schools teachers need to teach at least two subjects so you won't find native speakers that only teach their language.

    When I went to uni the situation changed dramatically. I studied International Business and part of the "International" bit was language - and all our language teachers were native speakers. We had Business English and Business French with native teachers; some of us learned Mandarin, others Spanish; there were also courses in Japanese offered. All of these were taught by native speakers.

    I'm not sure how common that is in other universities but I thought this was awesome.

    However, it is simply not feasible to do this in schools on a national level.

    All that said, and even though I personally try to have a good pronunciation, I have worked with many nationalities since and many people have accents without this being an issue. I'd say, as long as the accent isn't as bad as to impede communication it ultimately doesn't matter.

    I sort of had an epiphany during my last school years where I had a classmate who had been living abroad for a year and who had married (very young) a guy from Nigeria (not the prince who sends emails) with whom she communicated in English. This classmate had an incredibly strong German accent but because she had so much exposure and practice in English (this was before the internet) she spoke it fluently and was like a walking dictionary. In other words, even though her pronunciation was awful, her English was probably better than any of ours. I realized at that time that, while personally I wanted to achieve an accent-free pronunciation for myself, having a good grasp on grammar, vocabulary and idioms, combined with speaking practice is far more important.

    You can communicate with other people in a foreign language with a very strong accent as long as people can make out the words you are saying. But you cannot easily communicate if your vocabulary is too limited even if you pronounce the few words you are able to speak like a native speaker.

    In real life, vocabulary (and grammar) beat pronunciation every time.

    In light of that, you might want to reevaluate your teacher. Maybe she is a good teacher after all despite her flawed pronunciation?

    • alan P
      Lv 7
      5 months agoReport

      I remember the Chinese Malaysian at university who had a very good knowledge of English but such poor pronouciation that no one could understand a word he said. At school in the 60s we had a lot of recordings French speakers that we could follow even if the teachers did not have perfect accents

  • 5 months ago

    Well, you've just TOLD us why it's not that good: she has never been to any French-speaking country.

    But bear in mind that even if her pronunciation is poor, she may still have a very good grasp of the French language to a very high level.

    And of course your own two-week experience of Switzerland hardly makes YOU an expert.

  • 5 months ago

    People have an accent when they speak another language, it's normal.

    As a native French person I don't find this offensive at all.

    • alan P
      Lv 7
      5 months agoReport

      It's OK for someone to speak a foreign language with an accent but they should try to speak as well as they can. It's incompetant of the school to employ someone to be a French teacher who doesn't even seem to know, even approximately, how to pronounce certain French sounds.

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  • 5 months ago

    We had two French teachers at my school. One was French (and a decorated hero of the resistance) and the other was from Newcastle and spoke French with a Geordie accent. It was the one from Newcastle who was the senior master. He had a better knowledge of French grammar although he taught us to mispronounce our vowels. Fortunately, my sister had a French penfriend who came to visit from time to time and taught me quite a lot. (She also taught me how to speak French).

    • alan P
      Lv 7
      5 months agoReport

      Why would someone teach you to deliberately pronounce French vowels incorrectly?

  • Zirp
    Lv 7
    5 months ago

    Americans don't take languages seriously.

    She probably was better or cheaper than her competitors

  • 5 months ago

    I am sure your teacher knows some French.I also know a little French but I would not be good as a teacher.

  • Alan
    Lv 7
    5 months ago

    And don't even get me started on the American spoken and written version of the English language.

  • Anonymous
    5 months ago

    Honey, people have different accents even if they are native speakers of the same language. You think people in California speak like people in Alabama? They don't. Just like people in Paris do not speak like people in Montreal.

    And those that learn languages as their second, third and fourth language may have an accent, but often speak the language better than natives. For example, some of the people I've encountered from India speak absolutely PERFECT English, way better than most Americans, albeit with an accent.

    Take it from a Canadian (a French speaking country), visiting France for two weeks does not make you a French expert.

    • alan P
      Lv 7
      5 months agoReport

      Someone speaking their native language with a particular accent is not the same as speaking French with a foreign accent. If I spoke French grammatically perfectly but replacing all normal French sounds with pure English ones it would sound incredibly bizarre

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