When I was learning the language (some years ago!) typical French conversation was along the line of ‘Where are you going for your holiday?’ The sort of conversation to be had at the hairdressers, nothing too challenging, or indeed, interesting. So it was lovely to hear from one of our tutors, Allyson, about a recent conversation lesson with one of her adult students. She told me:

“We were looking at a controversy caused by President Macron; that of honouring World War One war heroes at a special centenary ceremony.  Macron had said that Maréchal Pétain should be one of those honoured.”

Pétain did great things in WW1 for France. But his record was tarnished when he then supported Vichy France in WW2, collaborating with the Nazis. Unsurprisingly, Macron’s decision caused uproar. In the end, he reversed his decision.

Allyson’s French conversation lesson was around the issues raised by this, widening the debate into whether this is brushing history aside. For example, should road names be changed, statues removed and so on when the ‘great and the good’ are no longer held to be so. (This has been happening in Spain over Franco and in the UK over Rhodes and all over Eastern Europe after the fall of communism).

Then the lesson moved on to discuss how streets throughout the Netherlands are being unofficially renamed by activists in honour of women after research showed that 88% of roads in large cities carry men’s names. Signs bearing the names of female resistance fighters, mathematicians, writers and musicians are being put up by the feminist group De Bovengrondse, which translates as ‘above ground.’

Of course, Allyson chose this lesson because she knew it would interest her adult student. Which is what all our tutors aim to do – choose topics that will resonate with each individual. As well as French conversation we offer many other languages, and you’re welcome to join in, whether it’s daytime, evenings, weekends or via Skype. Contact us today for your first language lesson, and take your conversations to a new level!