The Arthur Rider Song

Share your memories and stories from your days at school, and find out the truth behind the rumours....Remember the teachers and pupils, tell us who you remember and why...

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sejintenej
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Re: The Arthur Rider Song

Post by sejintenej » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:48 pm

michael scuffil wrote:
sejintenej wrote:
IMHO the worst failure in my CH language education (and that of my children and grandchildren) is the failure to actually speak and use the language comprehensively. The exception was Mr Bourne whose lessons were 95% verbal in Spanish.
It wasn't just CH though. I got a scholarship in Mod Langs to Cambridge and found I wasn't alone in having no idea how to actually speak the languages. I still can't get a sentence of fluent French out, though I can read a French newspaper as though it were the Guardian or Telegraph. All English education in Mod Langs was like that at the time -- for boys, anyway. I did notice that the Mod Lang girls at Cambridge were far more fluent.
Exactly. Perhaps unintentionally and without thinking you are trying to speak grammatically and not realising that those you talk to are often speaking pretty poor French. A close friend to whose children my wife and I are "honourary uncle/aunt" has been told that his children have to have extra school lessons because their French, learned at home, is so bad.

The major problem, I repeat, is the fear of making mistakes and that affects not only Brits but many foreign and people as well if they have learned in school - the kids referred to above will not speak one word of English to us even though they have done 2 years of school lessons.
With few exceptions people simply don't care if you make a howler. It was long after working for months in a lawyer's office that people told me I was speaking Portunol - a mix of two languages - though I was writing classic Portuguese.

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Re: The Arthur Rider Song

Post by Fjgrogan » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:54 pm

I am pretty much the same vintage as Michael, and had the same problem. Although my written French was considered good, I was always nervous of speaking it, because of the way we had been taught. When I finally went to France for the first time I had just had my A level results (A for French, plus S level) but spent most of the week scared to open my mouth, until the final night of the course when we threw a party to thank the people who had received us at various venues throughout the week - many of them owners of 'caves cooperatives'; Not having met alcohol before that week(honestly!) I didn't know about not mixing grape and grain and I got very drunk and astounded everyone by spouting 'fluently' in French for several hours! The journey home by train from Beziers to London next day was very uncomfortable, to say the least. Anyway it became a joke that thereafter I would always indulge in a few martinis before an oral exam - and it worked! So, proof that my problem was mainly inhibition. I later managed to get a modular degree by studying assorted languages and linguistics and various other modules without actually majoring in anything in particular, so I never spent a protracted length of time abroad, which would have made a huge difference to my confidence. I eventually graduated at age 48. Even today I am terrified of courses which involve role play - I admit that it is a valuable part of language learning, but if it had been extensively used to teach a language when I was at school, my life would have taken a totally different course! Even to this day, when faced with a choice of learning to speak Finnish or to read New Testament Greek, I would go for the Greek because there would be little danger of my being expected to speak it! [The fact that Finnish is highly inflected, having about 15 cases, and a vocabulary related to nothing else on earth, has nothing to do with it!!] To sum up; the way we were taught was far from ideal but it suited me personally. Surely the purpose of learning a language is communication, which we were ultimately not equipped to do!
Frances Grogan (Haley) 6's 1956 - 62

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michael scuffil
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Re: The Arthur Rider Song

Post by michael scuffil » Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:07 pm

I do of course speak fluent German, and it was fairly good even before I came to live here, mainly because I often came here on hitchhiking holidays. Basically it's a question of realizing a language is "real".

Talking of hitchhiking holidays: once, after I graduated, I was picked up by a French-speaking lorry-driver who said he had a passing acquaintance with an English lorry-driver, whom he regularly met by arrangement at specified truck-stops. We were speaking French, and I asked him if this lorry-driver spoke French. "Oui monsieur, un peu, comme vous." I felt seriously deflated.
Th.B. 27 1955-63

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Re: The Arthur Rider Song

Post by LongGone » Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:01 pm

I had Arthur Rider for five consecutive years: I have to be honest and say I did not appreciate him at the time, but I am constantly amazed at how well my French has held up over 40 years and I have to believe that it was his teaching (and emphasis on spoken French) that is the key.

On a different note: I seem to remember his exhortation in rugby games "No scrimshanking in the scrum" but never really knew what it meant. Any suggestions?
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Re: The Arthur Rider Song

Post by Jo » Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:52 pm

I've got a degree in French but I really don't like speaking it unless I have to. I feel so paranoid about making mistakes that it completely inhibits me. There's a lot of criticism of language teaching these days, but some of the modern methods do at least encourage students to chatter less inhibitedly. I did get quite fluent during my year in France, and when I worked for a multinational company I would speak French in the Frence office if anyone wanted me to.

Actually, the more I think about it the more I realise I don't actually mind speaking with French people. Then it seems as though I'm doing it for the purpose of communication. But I have absolutely never fancied the idea of joining those "societés francaises" things over here, where English people artificially speak French to each other just for practice. I'm sure everyone does it in the spirit it's intended but I would always feel people were just looking out for my mistakes.
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Re: The Arthur Rider Song

Post by Katharine » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:07 pm

When I went to CH I had already learnt French for a few years from a real Frenchwoman; I couldn't understand a word said by the very English teacher of French we had!

I spent time as an au pair mainly in Strasbourg between school and university. I felt that I could speak it fairly fluently after then, and treasure the memory of being in a shop looking at prints of the cathedral, when some very English tourists came in. As I had, they asked the price, but they were told twice as much as I had been, the shopkeeper giving me a wink as he did it! I don't know whether he really thought I was French, or just affirming that I made a very good effort to speak it! In Belgium last week, I was told that my accent was still good, but that I was speaking too slowly, I was aware how fast everyone was speaking.
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michael scuffil
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Re: The Arthur Rider Song

Post by michael scuffil » Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:43 am

You must go to Geneva next year Katharine. The Swiss have a reputation for speaking French slowly.
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sejintenej
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Re: The Arthur Rider Song

Post by sejintenej » Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:21 am

Katharine wrote: I spent time as an au pair mainly in Strasbourg between school and university. I felt that I could speak it fairly fluently after then, and treasure the memory of being in a shop looking at prints of the cathedral, when some very English tourists came in. As I had, they asked the price, but they were told twice as much as I had been, the shopkeeper giving me a wink as he did it! I don't know whether he really thought I was French, or just affirming that I made a very good effort to speak it!
When we first started going there my wife spoke absolutely no French but every afternoon we would go into town and she would order tea or coffee or whatever in halting French. After about 3 years she saw "our" waiter talking to some tourists so the next time he came to our table she upbraided him that he could speak English. "Certainly, I am English" he replied. He then explained that if someone made the effort to speak French he would not disappoint them. (At that time I think he was the only person in town who would, if pressed, speak English - it is very different now). Now my wife is quite capable of bargaining in the vide greniers (like boot sales) though she has yet to start lessons

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Re: The Arthur Rider Song

Post by NEILL THE NOTORIOUS » Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:15 pm

In 1940, I started to learn German, at CH,

In that year, it seemed a good option !

I speak reasonably good German now, although having spent some years in Munchen Gladbach, it has deteriorated from Hanoverian (The Best !)

In Germany, I always seem to be taken for a Dutchman, ---- not good enough for a German --- but COULDN'T be English !!!


The Army, in it's own inimitable fashion, chose my first Overseas Posting to be and Italian speaking area (Tripoli -- Libya !)
I was once complimented, in Via Reggio, buying Rail tickets, on my Italian--- but asked why I had "A terrible Sicilian accent"
I replied "There was this girl named Graziella !"
He blew a kiss in the air ---- "Bellissima " ! -------- all explained ! :lol:

sejintenej
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Re: The Arthur Rider Song

Post by sejintenej » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:15 am

NEILL THE NOTORIOUS wrote: The Army, in it's own inimitable fashion, chose my first Overseas Posting to be and Italian speaking area (Tripoli -- Libya !)
I was once complimented, in Via Reggio, buying Rail tickets, on my Italian--- but asked why I had "A terrible Sicilian accent"
I replied "There was this girl named Graziella !"
He blew a kiss in the air ---- "Bellissima " ! -------- all explained ! :lol:
A perfect example of why learning the culture is so important - a pillow dictionary is soooooooooooo helpful in this.

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