Thursday, 2 May 2013

High Tea, High Hat, Cymbal, Scat

Today I am more glad than ever I am not making a video blog, because I sound as husky as a husky who smokes a forty-pack a day. This is because I have been getting very excited about English, services we offer in the mediatheque, and switching from French to English with only the occasional missed step.

Today was inauguration day for my new mediatheque (which won't be mine in a mere two months time) and so we cracked out about 400 scones, 8 kilos of jam and enough clotted cream to fill a fridge. We also brought forth tea in 4 varieties; Darjeeling, Ceylon, Breakfast and, of course, Earl Grey. I also managed to find a site where the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games was hosted, and so the beautiful words of Jerusalem, Danny Boy and Flow'r of Scotland floated over the heads of my cheerfully babbling students; babbling, from Babel; the many different languages weaving a fabric of community.

All shared over scones and tea. My job gets better every day.

It was all over too soon, in fact, and before long I was back in my French class, where we had great fun with French text language. It's a mess, and I can't stand it, but I confess I over-reacted a little when a fellow student said it would mean that kids wouldn't be learning "proper language skills".

I don't agree. Some very smart people I know use text language, and it's representative of a fascinating look into the way a mind works. The spelling is literal, brief, saving space and time. It requires thinking in a certain way, and when you think the way another mind thinks, you're a little closer to them as a person. There are no "proper language skills," language is a continually evolving hydra. If you try squashing one part of it, it'll simply spring up again somewhere else. Teach "proper language skills", sure, but then realise that people will break them. From Shakespeare to Dizzy Rascal, the "rules" can be broken. Let's be jazz musicians, and learn the rules just to break them.

Ella Fitzgerald, ladies and gentlemen: