GOOD TEACHER MAGAZINE – "Wickedly funny!"
- "Laurel Zuckerman has split the academic world with a book that relates her experience at the heart of the archaic French teacher-training system."
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... why French students rank last in Europe for English."
LE NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR – "savoury and highly instructive"
L’EXPRESS - "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."
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!
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 dual national, H.E.C. graduate, mother of bilingual children and former French city councilor, Zuckerman closely based Sorbonne Confidential (Fayard 2007) on her experiences at Paris IV in 2005.
MORE PRAISE FOR SORBONNE CONFIDENTIAL
THE PARIS TIMES – “Funny and ferocious, Sorbonne Confidential offers new insights into the challenges of integration and education in France.”
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.”
THE IRISH TIMES – “The French government has declared the teaching of English a national priority. Most French school children study English for 10 years, yet few can speak it, and France continues to trail behind other EU countries in English-language performance, writes Lara Marlowe. So why can't the French speak English? Laurel Zuckerman, an American-born author who has lived for 24 years in France, says the country wastes millions of euro and man hours on a competitive selection system for teachers that predates the French revolution and ignores the two most obvious requirements: that teachers know how to teach, and that they speak English….”
CAHIERS PEDAGOGIUES - « un témoignage interpellant, qui nous conforte dans l’idée qu’il y a bien des choses à changer, dans le sens de la pédagogie, du travail par compétences, et de l’ouverture culturelle. » - Jean-Michel Zakhartchouk
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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