Sunday, 16 May 2010
The importance of learning the gender of nouns.
This week I gave one of my classes their first French vocabulary test. (Don't gasp, I've only taught them for 3 lessons.)
One child asked me, "Do we have to get the "le" and "la" right?"
"Of course," I replied.
"That's not fair," said the crest-fallen child.
"Fair, schmair," I said, turning away, ending the conversation in the most mature and adult way I know.
But learning the gender of nouns is very important for students of foreign languages.
One reason for this is that French, Spanish and German have words whose meanings vary depending on their gender.
Here are some examples:
le souris (archaic) = smile, la souris = mouse
le livre = book, la livre = pound
le tour = tour, la tour = tower
el mañana = future, la mañana = morning
el papa = pope, la papa = potato
el moral = blackberry bush, la moral = morality
der Elf = elf, die Elf = team
der Leiter = manager, die Leiter = ladder
das Tor = gate, der Tor = fool
So, when that beautiful foreign stranger you've been practising your language skills on has a large mouse on her face as you explain why you don't agree with the potato's views on blackberry bushes, you're going to look a complete gate and you'll really wish you had learned the genders as well as the nouns.