Our Poor French Teacher

Our Poor French TeacherThroughout primary school, we had a French teacher who would pop in our class for 45 minutes or so on certain days of the week. I'm sure there was (and is) a minimum number of hours French must be taught in Ontario, and we got that minimum.

Looking back, we were awful to that poor French teacher. We'd behave for our regular teacher, but once that French teacher had us, we turned into savages. It's no wonder I barely learned a lick of French throughout primary school, and there waiting for us around the bend was a mandatory French class in grade nine.

My kids (at least my first two) will never appreciate this story, as they've been in French Immersion throughout primary school. For a while, they only learned in French. They've never had a poor French teacher wheeled in periodically for her scheduled mistreatment.

Did anyone else experience this or were we just a bunch of French-hating animals?

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Just my luck, I always got the class where our teacher *was* the French teacher for our grade.

That still didn't stop us from giggling every time someone said "je suis fatigué".

June 26, 2014 @ 10:42 AM

this guest

"...and there waiting for us around the bend was a mandatory French class in grade nine."

oh man.... cosmic justice. :- )

June 26, 2014 @ 11:00 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

To this day, I don't know how I passed that grade nine French class. I'm sure they moved me on as a gesture of kindness.

June 26, 2014 @ 11:03 AM


All similar to my experience, including barely passing grade 9 French. I was in danger of failing but stepped up my game when confronted with the horror of potentially doing it again.

June 26, 2014 @ 12:38 PM


My first educational exposure to French was arriving in Winnipeg mid-year in grade 3. Fortunately, as I have learned through life, I pick up languages easily. I took French right into undergrad university because it was an easy mark for me. I got bored with it in university, and have hardly ever needed French in real life. Scrape off the rust and a bit of practice and I could call myself bilingual. But why bother.

I think everyone should have (and hopefully take) the opportunity to learn a second language, but it should not be mandatory French. Before anyone points out that Canada is "bilingual", it is not. Canada has two official languages. Those are two very different concepts. Two governments (Federal, N.B.) are bilingual. The people of Canada, by majority, are not.

Apart from Québec, politically correct Ontario and a few other pockets in Ontario, New Brunswick and a small part of Winnipeg (and likely a few other small areas), one simply does not get exposed to, let alone need, French in Canada. My western roots and values and being a businessman and having travelled across all of Canada have lead to this observation/opinion. Business functions in English. Full stop. Every single province in Canada has more economic exposure/dfoes more business with the U.S. than Québec. Given the demographic patterns in the U.S., learning Spanish may be more beneficial for many. It would certainly come in handy for sun vacation destinations. Failing Spanish, perhaps some dialect of Chinese. Having French forced down generally-English as a first language Canadian throats is a product of political (in)correctness on behalf of too many governments.

By all means, if you want to work for the federal or some provincial governments, learn French. Just don't expect to ever use it much, if at all, in real life in Canada.

June 26, 2014 @ 1:01 PM


Very interesting that the same thing happened at my school. I actually felt sorry for her. She was a very nice person and she kept trying to get the class under control and she never did.

June 26, 2014 @ 1:43 PM

Al The Royal Pain

Being bilingual (English & Portuguese) I was actually pretty good at French.

Of course, I stopped taking it as soon as I could in grade 10, but I've got to tell you, it has really come in handy professionally. I'm by nor means proficient, but I can read it pretty well and I can understand it a bit...especially spoken by other Anglophones who speak it the way I learned it. I've used my French training frequently in my work.

I do recall thought that in seventh grade our class was so rotten towards our french teacher that she never came back the next year. I don't know if she switched schools or just gave up because we were so horrible to her. I remember taking a bit of pride at the thought of the latter at the time. Now that I'm older, I think back and feel sorry for that teacher. We were probably her first job in teaching and we may have ended her career before it even began.

June 26, 2014 @ 2:46 PM


Well, I remember learning French in school. I was really good at it in the earlier years. The teacher was boring though, but I was good until I got to grade 11 and 12 when there was a lot of French literature we had to read which really was boring. I heardly use French, but I understand and speak enough to get by.

June 26, 2014 @ 5:59 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


And I got by find in Paris with my awful grade nine French. You can go a long way with "pardon moi" and "merci beaucoup".

June 26, 2014 @ 6:09 PM


During the early 70's in high school, if you had an average of over 70% overall in a subject you were exempted from writing the final exam. During my 5 years in high school (Grade 13 was still present then) the ONLY final exam I had to do was Grade 9 French.

Mrs. Heaslop an old biddy who only spoke French & was as strict as a nun. There were over 30 students in her class & she only exempted 4 or 5 for the final. I knew I was close but had no problem going to the one on one Verbal exam with her for 15 minutes.

I walked in & said good morning in French to her & she then said in ENGLISH "do you understand why you are here". I was shocked speaking English. I said yes because I don't have 70% & she said yes you do but I wanted to make a statement to you & 4 or 5 others who haven't shown their full potential & working to their best abilities going forward in school.

There was no exam but she did ask can you say 2 words in French & I said oui. CHIEN CHAUD. Hot Dog. She laughed & said have a great summer. I had her again in Grade 10 French & will never forget how much she had an influence on my education going forward.

June 26, 2014 @ 6:21 PM


ugh. French. We had a similar system at my school. I really really didn't do well at all. Along comes Gr. 9 - mandatory French. My teacher had a real hate on me, probably justified for my behaviour. Anyhoooo one day she got me back. She introduced us to the two French sentences for "I am skinny." "I am fat." Then, one by one asked each student to say the appropriate sentence for themselves. Of course I was the only fat kid in the class. Died! She sneered.
Even as an adult my company offered free one on one French classes, but I just couldn't cut it. The teacher was very nice though!

June 26, 2014 @ 8:12 PM

James Edgar

I was in primary school before french was taught and was not exposed until grade 7. My grade 7 french teacher was a complete fucking loon. After a couple of classes he only spoke french. Ok no problem that's why were were there right?

Only he only spoke to a foam wig head that had a lollipop stick in it's mouth like Telly Savalas in Kojack.

He scared us a little bit. Did not learn much more than how to count to 5. And that i probably learned in grade 8 french class with undoubtedly the hottest teacher I ever had.Which while not quite as distracting as the foam head still meant we didn't learn much. That was all the french i had to take so it's all that i did.

I now have a GF from France and her daughter is in full french so I'm finally learning some. I don't seem to have much of an affinity for language though.

June 27, 2014 @ 9:01 AM


Well, I guess that's true. A few words can get you a long way. Oh well, French literature sucks. Actually I hate literature such as books we were forced to read in English even like Wuthering Heights, yuck and then there was Shakespeare.

June 27, 2014 @ 11:17 AM

Mike from Lowville

We did the same thing to our french teacher Mike but, in grade eight we got a new teacher. She was a knock out! Boys will be boys at that age. I think she knew if she unbuttoned her blouse the way she did, it would get our attention. One day she came in with a mini shirt on and that was it. She was in my dreams for ever after that. Didn't learn much french but I learned how much I liked woman!

June 27, 2014 @ 4:11 PM


I remember in elementary school (so late 80's) our class reading a book called 'How to Sink a Sub'. Sure enough, a few weeks later we had a substitute teacher, so we tried to put the skills in the book to use.

We got a big talking to by our regular teacher and the principal as a result.

June 29, 2014 @ 10:55 AM

The Voice

Our French teacher was the well-known "strict" teacher, so you behaved better with her.

She went on to become principal of the school.

July 1, 2014 @ 7:57 AM

Richard Pelland

Well, I first was introduced to French in Grade 7. We got a whopping 15 min a day. That was just enough time for Mme Bélanger to wheel in her cart, recap what she had said the prevouis day about the Leclair family and their dog Pitou, ask a question or two, and wheel her way to the next class. Quelle perte de temps!
Even in secondary school, all we did was conjugate verbs. There was no attempt to make us fluent or to expose us to practical French.

I don't think Ontario takes the teaching of French with any seriousness. If we did, we wouldn't wait until grade four to introduce it. After five years of French language study, our students don't develop enough skill to order a pizza.

October 13, 2014 @ 1:19 PM

Robert Confiant

Yup, it was the same with our class. It must of been hard for these french teachers. The Italian kids in our class were not as bad, but the English kids certainly made up for it. I am kicking myself now, but one cannot undo the past.

I started okay, but I eventually conformed with my friends.

I would start off with first term: 'C'
Second term: 'D'
Third term: 'E' (fail)

My brothers were not any better, so this norm was ingrained over the years.

April 20, 2015 @ 7:00 PM

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