Sorbonne Confidential (Paperback)
Summertime Publications Inc, 9780615252896, 300pp.
Publication Date: August 1, 2009
After losing her high tech job in Paris, Alice Wunderland dreams of a new, unemployment-proof career as an English teacher and enrolls in France's official state exam; After all, she reasons, how hard can it be for an educated American to pass a test in English? Unfortunately, her Arizona English fails to impress. Even Shakespeare's English falls short. Only one English will do: Sorbonne English While learning this new language, Alice vows to investigate: Why devise an English exam that few native speakers can pass ? Could this explain why French schoolchildren rank last for English skills in Europe? Is it true that Frenchness is a question of formatting? If so, can a foreigner ever become truly French? As riots break out among the children of immigrants, Alice cannot help but wonder: could there be any connection between her bewildering experience and theirs? A dual national, graduate of France's top business school (HEe, mother of bilingual children and former French city councilor, Zuckerman closely based Sorbonne Confidential on her experiences at the Sorbonne in 2005. PRAISE FOR SORBONNE CONFIDENTIAL THE PARIS TIMES - "Funny and ferocious, Sorbonne Confidential offers new insights into the challenges of integration and education in France." THE TIMES - Laurel Zuckerman has split the academic world with a book that relates her experience at the heart of the archaic French teacher-training system." EDUCATION REVIEW - "Sorbonne Confidential... illustrates how objective measures can be far from objective-a concept often difficult to see when looking only at one's own context. It illustrates how rigor by itself can distract, exclude, and alienate. By taking on an institution that began before the American Revolution, the book demonstrates how systems can develop around programs, allowing them to self-perpetuate without regard for their impact on schools and society. At some level, the book is also an argument for the power and importance of teacher education and of the need for systems that care more about creating good teachers than objectively assigning scores. THE GUARDIAN - " Zuckerman's] account of her experience in France's teacher training system has... sparked a furious debate over the country's uneasy approach to English." LE MONDE DE l'EDUCATION - "The candidate imagines that being a native English speaker constitutes an advantage. She learns rather that it is a handicap. Her tribulations are the pretext for exploring with humour some of the elements which explain why French students rank last in Europe for English LE POINT - Her tragi-comic story explains how France produces the worst English teachers in the world L'EXPRESS - Absurd, ill-adapted, discriminatory. And dramatically funny...The French university system seen through the half nave, half incredulous eyes of an American. The reader laughs a lot and concludes that reform is urgent.