Interview with O. Henry’s French teacher

Interview with O. Henrys French teacher

October 2021 – I interviewed Ms. Harrison, O. Henry Middle School’s French teacher, so that the school could get to know her a bit more, as well as get some tips if you’re learning French!

Question: How long have you been teaching?

Answer: I’ve been teaching for five years total, French for one year, and before that speech and debate for four years.

Question: What kept you interested in studying French for as long as you did?

Answer: Honestly, for a long time when I was a kid it was because I really loved my French teacher. She was really good at what she did and made class fun. A lot of my friends were in my French class too, so I was really motivated to do well. I try to model my teaching style off of that because I want my students to feel motivated as well.

Question: Have you ever lived in France or a French speaking country before? If so, how did it help you?

Answer: I haven’t lived in a French speaking country for a long period of time, but I did spend a few months in France and Belgium right after I graduated from high school. But even those few months that I was there helped me a lot with my speaking and comprehension by being there and interacting with people.

Question: Do you speak any other languages besides French and English?

Answer: I speak a tiny bit of Arabic; I took a few semesters of it in college.

Question: If you hadn’t chosen to be a teacher, what other career would you have chosen?

Answer: I think that if I wasn’t a teacher, I would still be working with kids. I would’ve loved to be a children’s librarian or a social worker. I would probably still be doing something that ties in with education somehow.

Question: What’s your favorite thing about teaching?

Answer: I love to see my students grow; that’s the thing that I love the most. I like to see them grow both in French and just as people, especially in middle school, you all change so much at this age, like think about how you were in sixth grade versus how you are now. I just enjoy seeing you all grow during the years that I know you.

Question: What are some tips you have for people who want to learn a new language?

Answer: Make it fun for yourself. I talk to kids and adults all the time who are like, “Oh I tried to do Duolingo or I tried making flashcards, but it just didn’t work for me” But just try to find things you enjoy doing when you’re studying a language and that’s going to make you love it. If you love practicing with a friend, do that instead of by yourself, or if you really love to make YouTube videos, you could make videos of yourself speaking the language. Because if you try to learn a language by just memorizing or in a way that is boring, you’re not going to stick with it.

Question: Do you think people who are learning French should go to a French speaking country?

Answer: Yes absolutely! It is so helpful just to be thrown into the water and learn how to swim. And in a way, even if you have been studying French all throughout schoo,l it is challenging, and it forces you to really use what you know and come up with clever ways of getting around the things that you don’t know. So, yes, 100 percent. If you can go, go; it helps so much.

Question: What’s the hardest part of teaching a foreign language or teaching in general?

Answer: I love everything about teaching in the classroom. There’s not a whole lot of stuff that happens in the classroom that I would view as being particularly difficult to handle or deal with, but the hardest thing would have to be paperwork. Grading stuff, emails, putting in grades, that kind of stuff I dislike. They’re necessary, and they need to happen, but I think that’s the part that nobody really enjoys.