After losing her high tech job in Paris, Alice Wunderland dreams of a new, unemployment-proof career as English teacher and decides to dedicate a year to training for France's prestigious competitive exam; After all, she reasons, how hard can it be for an educated American to pass a test in English?
She enrolls at the Sorbonne, but her Arizona English fails to impress. Even Shakespeare's English falls short. Only one English will do: Sorbonne English! Even 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 even one with French nationality ever become truly French? As riots break out in France among the children of immigrants, Alice cannot help but wonder: could there be any connection between her bewildering experience and theirs?
A hilarious, hair-raising insider's look at the esoteric world of French Education. (Harriet Welty Rochefort --author of French Toast).
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Laurel Zuckerman has split the academic world with a book that relates her experience at the heart of the archaic French teacher-training system. Her account reveals the extraordinarily arcane and arguably irrelevant questions asked of would-be English teachers. And it highlights the ambivalence of the country s approach to English, which is seen, at best, as a necessary evil. --The Times
Absurd, ill-adapted, discriminatory. And dramatically funny…The French university system seen through the half naïve, half incredulous eyes of an American. The reader laughs a lot and concludes that reform is urgent --L'Express
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. - Education Review
"Wickedly funny" - Good Teacher Magazine
“Funny and ferocious, Sorbonne Confidential offers new insights into the challenges of integration and education in France.” - The Paris Times
"Absurd, ill-adapted, discriminatory. And dramatically funny…The French university system seen through the half naïve, half incredulous eyes of an American. The reader laughs a lot and concludes that reform is urgent." - L'Express