Saturday, September 15, 2012

joining the alliance

So I'm a little embarrassed to admit that it took me 14 years of living along Colorado's Front Range to become a member of the Alliance Francaise of Denver.   I mean, I was teaching French for half that time, I've been receiving their weekly e-newsletter all along, and I have even attended workshops for teachers that were held there--but never made the effort to actually join this branch of the worldwide nonprofit organization that promotes French via classes, lectures, cultural activities, and so forth.

So what was it that made me pony up that $45 membership fee, given that it takes me 40 minutes to drive there, thus ensuring that I won't be visiting regularly?

Their library.

Members can borrow novels, educational materials, CDs, movies, even board games--all in French--aaaaand children's books!  Since Griffin is enjoying listening to me read easy chapter books to him now, being able to browse the Alliance Francaise's bibliotheque means I don't have to pay big bucks to order chapter books sight unseen from abroad.

Last week I attended an open house there, anticipating that after that I could stop waffling about whether or not to join--either I'd like what I saw or I'd decide it wasn't worth it.  Here's what I learned:

1.  It fills me with joy to walk into an unfamiliar place in another city and hear someone exclaim "Mademoiselle [Maiden Name]!"  My former students are all over this state.  (And some of them have even kept up with their French after graduating!)

2.  People at the Alliance Francaise are tres impressed to meet an American married to an American who only speaks French to her children.  (Having my adorable Gwyneth on my hip helped, of course.)

Okay, so this my adorable Gwyneth in her father's arms, but you get the idea.

3.  For basically the cost of two magazine subscriptions, I can borrow French materials to read and listen to (and also access other resources from their office, like an iPod loaded with educational podcasts and a television showing TV5, a 24-hour channel in French).

4.  It would not be a good idea to enroll Griffin--or even Gwyneth--in the classes they offer for younger children.  At the sample class I observed, the teachers explained that these classes are designed for anglophone kids who are learning French for the first time and that when a child from a French family attends he invariably gets bored.  This is very good to  know before I made the commitment to haul my kiddos back and forth to downtown Denver once a week!

5a.  On the other hand, the teachers seemed to think that a class for children who are already familiar with French would be welcome, and that if we could meet a minimum enrollment number that the AF teacher would come to Boulder to give the class!

5b.  During that conversation, I also mentioned our French library storytime to the teachers--which really appealed to them.  Perhaps I should start publicizing this program at the AF office and through their newsletter!

5c.  Then I pointed out that as the AF offers activities for francophile adults such as wine tastings, art appreciation lectures, conversation groups, and parties, they could (should?) plan some analogous events for children!  For example, arts and crafts workshops, dance parties, field days, Asterix cartoon viewings....  I would willingly drive down to Denver once a month to have Griffin hang out with French kids and, say, learn to play soccer in French or have a cooking lesson in French.

5d.  The teachers, enthusiastic, then suggested that I contact the AF director and propose classes and workshops like those!  I could even ask the families from French playgroup and storytime to write to him as well....

5e.  It's been a week since the AF open house and I haven't done one darn tootin' thing about it (other than read Oui-Oui au pays des jouets to Griffin!).

5f.  My to-do list (lists) will not get any shorter if I keep adding projects instead of finishing the ones that are already in progress!  (And blogging about them only encourages me to procrastinate and pontificate rather than just do it.  Get off the computer already and go sort Gwyneth's clothes, Sarah!  She's 14 months old and her size-six-month dresses don't cover her tushie anymore.)


  1. It's great that you've discovered another French resource and especially one that includes television and all those lovely books! I hope the native French classes work out :-)

    1. Yep! I imagine you have a similar resource (maybe at the kids' school, if not a proper Alliance Francaise?

  2. Yes, we have it here, too - but only 10 minutes away from home by car:) And yes, their library is so impressive, I love all the children books, magazines, DVDs etc that they have!

    1. Oooh, yes, magazines! I should suggest to the Denver branch that they subscribe to some children's magazines in French--they're sooooo expensive to receive at home.

  3. Oh, I would so love that! Of course, I wouldn't mind an excuse to visit Trinidad & Tobago either....what is your AF like there?