Professeur Giselle Kapucinski taught in a lively, participatory style and I fell fast and deeply in love with French again. I wasted no time signing up for the class. Her teaching style intrigued and inspired us. We enacted storylines with Barbie dolls and later in other more advanced classes, we wrote dialogues, newscasts, advertisements, and menus in order to practice, develop and use the French language in a real life and creative way. My BFF and I always tried to work in pairs together, in and out of class. Years later, we would play Scrabble in Spanish, French and English by the pool during summer vacation. She always won. Always.
This modern approach was a new way of learning a language back in 1981 after the Audio Lingual Method (remember the non-stop dictation and dialogue repetition in labs with headphones?) – La plume de ma tante est sur le table. We still had to memorize all the conjugations and tenses but we did that on our own time and took weekly quizzes to get it out of the way. We spoke and wrote French and we immersed ourselves having lively interchanges. When I began to dream in French, I knew I was on my way to becoming fluent. Petite Prof. Kapucinski became my ideal vision of a Language Instructor. My BFF and I both patterned our theme-inspired classes, and our lesson plans on her adopted theories of language acquisition.
Eventually I had to enroll in French 3 again with Prof. Brown. I grinned and beared it. I took it pass/fail and passed with tutoring help.
We enrolled in every class Prof. Kapucinski had to offer and I eventually was only nine credits or three courses away from a French Teaching Certification to complement my Spanish Diploma in the same.
However, my time and money had run out. My only hope was to take the required advanced courses offered all at once in Avignon, France that summer. The cost was $2000 for room, board and class credits, $4500 today according to the inflation calculator online. I had to begin teaching summer school instead in order to subsist.
Alas, my only regret in life.
So whenever one of my children aims high and they earn an opportunity and I balk because of the hefty price tag, my BFF reminds me, “Don’t let this be their Avignon”.
May my children soar and their wings not be clipped.
At least not by moi.
And never let a lousy, insensitive or ‘just not a good fit’ teacher or fellow student ever keep you away from the rooms of knowledge, the thrill of learning or a required course.
Let nothing get in your way, let no one ebb your passion and put all of your energy into following your bliss, whatever that is today.
And don’t let a Professor Brown in your life, get you down!