“Breez in and breez out. Clear yor mind by zinking of somezing plasant.” For five minutes, all of us found ourselves sitting cross-legged on the floor with a soft, sleepy look on our faces as we subconsciously nodded to the soothing rhythmic voice of our French teacher. Our heads were still half wafting in the delicious swirls of dreamland, barely dwelling in the bittersweet shock of reality. Time whizzed by swiftly and we were forced to tend to the grueling task of untangling our aching frames, stiffened from prolonged straining positions.
Madame DuPont would then launch into her lesson plan for the day with much animation. She often exuded boundless bounce with every step she took, while the rest of us were just starting to recover from the morning blues. I imagined her to be another Napoleon Bonaparte, seeking to instill in us a certain form of discipline as she led us in the formidable mission of conquering the French language.
As we tried hopelessly to mimic her genuine Parisian accent, she would persistently encourage us by dictating, “Errrroll yor Rrrrr’s messieurs et mesdemolselles! You must enunciate yor vowels and consonants properly!…Oui, zat’s it!” Whenever we succeeded in our strenuous efforts, she would reward us with her trademark impish grin. The sight of her lively expression often led our hearts to be consoled with instant relief and a true sense of achievement. Her optimistic attitude toward life itself proved to be highly contagious, for it made us even more susceptible to learning. Our steadfast attentions never failed to drift away to the soporific world of daydreams, designated in our minds as No Man’s Land. The mystic ambiance she generated from her manner and her unique style of teaching was somehow bewitching. Whether she was instructing us in the conjugation of savoir or assisting us in differentiating between the usage of avoir and être in relation to other verbs, she always did it avec beaucoup de plaisir. She was a special individual who would help others without request and who was willing to listen to people’s problems without prejudice. In her I found a role model as well as a friend who I could depend on.
She firmly believed the path to successful learning was to make sure the materials presented were enlightening yet intriguing and never too tedious. I was always amazed at how she was able to arouse in us such an enduring interest in French. This enigma perplexed me, and I vowed to unveil her secret one day. I did not get the opportunity to discover her formula for success, for she moved away soon after I made the pledge to myself. However, not long after her departure I received an unexpected letter from her that satisfied my lingering curiosity. Within its content, I realized what I had been searching for had been there since the very first day I walked into her class. It was the self-confidence she possessed and the staunch belief that she could make a difference that made her a lasting success in my mind.