Archive for August 15th, 2008

The Art of Conversation

August 15, 2008

My live-in pupil went home yesterday and I’m not sure who was more relieved – Quentin or me.

It’s not that he was any trouble to have around. He stayed in bed until almost lunchtime, refused anything to eat or drink for a ‘belated breakfast’  and, apart from  two sessions of English each day, spent most of his time playing Nintendo on the spare television or amusing himself on the computer.

In the evenings he prefered to cook his own meal of pasta and then went back to his games or watched a film on his ipod.

The only time we spent ‘en famille’ was at lunchtime, when I kind of insisted that we all eat together. Attempts to instigate a conversation were difficult, partly because his level of English wasn’t up to it and partly because no-one else in the household seemed prepared to make an effort.

It’s not easy to ascertain whether Quentin was bored or shy but he seemed very keen to disappear into his world of virtual games and often needed a gentle prod to come and ‘do some English’.

His parents had wanted him to go and stay with a family in England while they went on holiday to Honfleur, so I get the impression that this was his ‘punishment’ for refusing.

Anyway, two  daily ‘lessons’ of about an hour were enough for both of us as concentration lagged. I discovered that his routine at home during the holidays wasn’t much different from his life with us. He would stay in his room watching films until lunchtime then play Nintendo or ‘Chat’ online for most of the day. He might go out with his mates or play tennis though.

His parents were very grateful to us for taking him on but I fear their hopes that he would make up for two years of failed English at school in less than two weeks were rather optimistic.

The most depressing part of this last fortnight is that it suddenly struck me how little we, as a family, talk to each other.

Chez-nous, the art of conversation is in danger of dying.