Elsa an inspirational French teacher

Never has learning French been so inspiring as this week’s lesson in the rose garden of Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens.

My French teacher is Argentinian-born and now new Australian citizen, Elsa Rozannes and we are sitting here on a bench under a flower bower, reciting French poetry.

It is her idea to take this pleasant excursion into the National Rose Trial Garden, adjacent to the Conservatory and I notice above me hang clusters of  “China Doll’’.

Usually Elsa and I meet in the Intercontinental Hotel and sip potted tea sweetened with honey while I converse and try to grasp difficult grammar, such as the subjonctif tense.

But don’t start me on the frustrating idiosyncracies of the French language, because today’s lesson has been pure pleasure.

I am reciting  la Poesie Francaise, Correspondances  by Charles Baudelaire, about La nature est un temple ou de vivants piliers (In Nature’s temple living pillars rise) and sweet words such as “Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarte, les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se respondent’’.

All of which, thanks to Elsa’s creative teaching style, I can read and pronounce more or less correctly and understand.

It has been a long, arduous task to learn French and it has taken much of this past decade to achieve through a variety of means including many terms at Alliance Francaise.

But Elsa’s dedication and our one-to-one instruction each week all year has been tipping point to my mastering the language.

“Maintenant, je peut dire que je peut parler assez bien the langue Francaise.’’

I can think in two languages that Elsa has taken me along meandering paths, past “vast pillars’’ of  “les arbres’’, glorious century old trees of myriad kinds, past a century-old Bunya Pine and a beautiful old Bottle tree even before we reach the Rose Garden.

The National Rose Trial Garden was established in 1996 as the first of it kind as a joint venture between the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide, the Rose Introducers of Australia (RIAUS) and the National Rose Society of Australia.

We have smelt many colourful roses even before I read about scent and colour.

However, the poem I must learn by heart now, because Elsa says it is a fundamental piece in French literature known by all French students is a sad little roses poem entitled “Consolation’’ and it was written in 1598 by Francois Malherbe. He wrote these heart-felt words for his lady love who had lost her five-year-old daughter, whose name was Rose.

“Mais elle etait du monde

Où les plus belle choses

Ont le pire destin.

Et Rose, elle a vecu

Ce que vivent les roses

L”Espace d’un matin.

Which means”: But she was of the world where the most beautiful things have the worst destiny.

And Rose, she has lived like the life of roses – in the space of a morning.’’

Such beautiful words transport me into a new phase of my journey into Frenchness – the study of French poetry and literature. And as we take coffee at the kiosk I cannot think of a more beautiful place for this transition to happen – alongside the Mediterranean Garden brimming with hedges and plants of myriad kinds with an inspirational teacher.

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2 Comments to “Elsa an inspirational French teacher”

  1. By Elsa Rozanes, 20/12/2010 @ 3:51 pm

    Dear Nadine, I am very ‘touchée’by your article. I am very happy you appreciate this French stroll at the botanic Garden. For me it was also a nice moment and to share with you your”journey into Frenchness ‘” honoured me.
    Anyway, I think, to learn and to teach is an act of communication where two or more persons “play the game” of echange thoughts and experiences, both sides building toghether the magic moment of learning.
    Voltaire in his novel”Candide” says:”Il faut cultiver notre jardin” (We must cultivate our garden) that meens cultivate the spirit and the beautiful things of the life.
    For me our friendship it is one of the flowers of the garden
    Elsa Rozanès

    • By nadine, 22/12/2010 @ 9:47 pm

      thankyou darling Elsa. See you New Year’s Eve down here. Hope to see Rowena tomorrow to ensure they come too.XXX Nadine.

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