NHCC Paralegal Program Director & Instructor, Mary Fenske flipped the script this spring and is taking a French course! Learn why she decided to enroll and how it’s going, below!
Was this your first ever French class?
No, I took a short French course in the early 90’s, right when I was clerking for a judge in Washington D.C. It was sponsored through the Department of Agriculture to help federal employees learn foreign languages. The Department of Agriculture was just across the National Mall from the courthouse where I worked. It was a great walk to class after work, but I didn’t learn very much. I’m a visual learner and the teacher didn’t use a board, or overhead at all in the class. It was a struggle. I took German from middle school through my sophomore year in college (I studied abroad in Salzburg, Austria). German seems way easier!
What made you want to enroll this spring?
I’ve visited France and Morocco with my family in the past four years. I got by with the little French I knew, but I’d like to understand it better so I can return! My son, who is a college senior, loves all things French, especially the bread and soccer. He took four years of Spanish in high school, but also wanted to learn French. I suggested taking a class together this spring since he has a light schedule this semester, and he actually loved the idea. Now I get to see him twice a week in our Zoom class through Normandale CC! The first night he took a Snapchat video of me in our Zoom breakout room and captioned it, “Ever think you’d take a class with your mom? Me neither.” I thought that was pretty funny.
How is the class going?
It is hard! It is a lot easier to learn a language when you’re young. I have to work harder at it than my son does, especially since he has the benefit of having previously studied a romance language. However, the teacher is great, and my classmates are funny and friendly. I’m enjoying it, despite the challenges. That’s the wonderful thing about community colleges; there are students of all ages and backgrounds, but we all laugh when trying to understand our professor who speaks almost exclusively in French during class!
What is it like going from being the teacher to being the student?
Well, first of all, D2L looks a lot different from the student side! It’s really showed me how important it is to set up D2L in a way that is easy for students to navigate. My French professor sets up her class differently than I do (which makes sense considering the subject matter), but it isn’t always intuitive to me. There is definitely a learning curve. Finding time for homework is also a challenge. I find myself saying, “Oh shoot, I have to take that quiz before midnight tonight” a lot! I can definitely understand the challenges my students face when balancing full-time work, family responsibilities and school a little more now!