Category Archives: Learning

…from biking, to Frenching, to scrabbling and beyond…

French I: The tumble and music of verbs

Many years ago, when I was teaching a “business writing” course in Yerevan, at the American University of Armenia, one of my more ambitious students was an unfolding bundle of irritation.  Tall and sinewy, he was nervous in the way … Continue reading

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French 1: The Joys of Rote

My friend C.M. is a poet, a translator, and a teacher.  He is also a very good cook whose offerings are as delectable as they are visually pleasurable.  He spends a lot of time preparing his dinners.  From the shopping … Continue reading

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Evergreen on Commonwealth Avenue

I teach undergraduate writing at Boston University. I also do something else, something less visible, less instructive.  Throughout the year and for four to eight weeks each semester and during the summer, I “teach” a course in the short story. … Continue reading

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French 1: Verbs to Burn

To Have and to Be:  The bedrock verbs of  French.  That’s what A.B., who pumps gas to make a living, said a while back in May when I was merely entertaining the idea of achieving fluency in French, (See the … Continue reading

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The French Wink

Forget the seductive smile which is sometimes extracted from the teeth of contempt or, worse, politeness. Forget the touch of fingertips, which comes when you least expect it, as the waiter is returning small change.Forget the stroke of the hair or … Continue reading

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French 1:The First Verbs

“French boils down to two things,” says B., as he adjusts the nozzle of the gas pump into my car, and waits. This is the time when we have our brief but sweet chats. We talk about many things but … Continue reading

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Mademoiselle on the Balcony

We often enter a new language in the company of a guide: a parent or relative, a  teacher, a  friend.  Lucky are those who have had a patient guide, someone who has walked a step or two ahead but always … Continue reading

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