Sunday, August 14, 2005

Accent on Calculus

Yesterday, I went to a three hour calc review session hosted by one of my cohort-mates, who happens to be a former math teacher from France. It was an incredible gesture of him to offer to do this for us, since he needs no preparation at all and this meant coming in to school on a Saturday and putting up with us. He also ran it like a real class-- he got us to decide up front what types of problems we wanted to work on, and then made each one of us go up to the board and do the problem (with him helping and stopping to break down shortcuts and tips). I found this much more helpful than the four three-hour lectures I had to sit through.

But of course for me, it was all about listening to his accent and imitating it in my head. I have found that it is a knee-jerk thing for me to start imitating people's accents in my head when I speak with them. He asks me a question about a problem, and in my head, my answer is, "Obveeouslee, dees eez a deeereevateev, becouse for usss, dees eez meaning raeete of change." This is fine when people have subtle accents (pin for pen, aboot for about), but would clearly make me the most obnoxious person on the planet if I didn't consciously de-accent before I spoke (sometimes, rarely, my brain refilters before I speak), "It's a rate of change problem, so we need to take the derivative."

But the French accent wasn't the best part about the group. We had a second accent, a fellow student and cohort-mate from Trinidad and Tobago. He has the loveliest accent you can imagine, very similar to a Jamaican accent, and a fantastic deep voice. And he seemed to understand the most out of the students, so a lot of the time he would jump up to the board and join in with our French teacher. I stopped hearing the important math lessons; it was like listening to a jazz duet.

Since my friend and I are obsessed with Trinidad's accent, every time he'd stop talking about math to start writing on the board, we'd whisper to each other, "Could he explain that again before writing it up on the board?" We though we were alone, until another girl dropped the pretense of the word, 'explain', and just said, "Could you say that one more time?" I appreciated her honesty.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Sasha said...

I can't wait for the post when your classmates find this site and see what you've written about them. Now that's going to be juicy.

12:51 PM  

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