October 2014 Archives

Carla DiGiovanni is no ordinary high school teacher. Considered a veteran among her colleagues, she has been teaching French and Spanish at Iroquois Ridge High School for over a decade. Known to her former and current students as "DiG" (pronounced deej), she still teaches at IRHS despite approaching retirement. However, what sets her apart from any other teacher is the high regard in which she is held by the many students of varying age who come back to visit her, myself included.

Two Languages, One Voice: Fred Genesee



It is 3:30 pm on a Wednesday. I am sitting on my balcony watching the hustle and bustle below. There is a group of young kids, possibly no more than thirteen, stomping and laughing their way down the sloped street of Cote-Des-Neiges. They're yelling, and I can hear them-- but I can only understand half of it.

These children are, like a substantial number of young Montrealers, totally bilingual. They switch between languages with an ease that I'm sure I couldn't acquire with years of studying French. It's likely that some of them, if not most, have been bilingual from birth. They have, as Montreal-based bilingual researcher Fred Genesee would say, two first languages.

KEY TO KNOWLEDGE.jpgMeeting language professionals, whether they be translators, linguists, or simply teachers, is undoubtedly always of a great moment to someone who aspires to, one day, pride themselves on being one. Gabrielle Delisle, a linguist with long-standing expertise and seasoned medical translator, is also a versatile professor at the Department of Linguistics and Translation at the University of Montreal. This accomplished woman knows how important it is to mix with right people as you are carving out a languages-related career for yourself. She knows what it is like to scramble up the long and tortuous staircase of the linguistic world as well as to live through all vertiginous ups and downs related to the phenomenon of the translator`s pessimism. And, what is more, Madam Gabrielle knows when the moment of wanting to share your knowledge with the younger generation comes and marks the level of the overall professional maturity you have achieved over time. Besides, it was the latter that spurred her to eventually become a simple teacher who, nevertheless, does not let her translator`s skills blunt.

Catharsis of a Narcissist


First and foremost, I must preface the fact that I revel in keeping to myself. Seldom do I enjoy discussing intimate thoughts with others and self-disclosure has always been painfully awkward for me. In order to understand my state of mind, it should be noted that I'm, ironically, in a constant struggle to hide nothing. That being said, I bare you my soul in the form of contemplative rambling.

My ultimate goal in life is to perceive myself realistically, i.e. to actually be who I think I am. As simple as it may seem, it is thus far proving to be the hardest task I've ever undertaken, considering the unpredictable nature of my ego. My greatest hindrance to attaining higher self-awareness has been the tendency to delude myself into believing things about myself that are completely untrue, both good and bad. Therefore, I believe the only way to come to terms with every facet of my existence as a human being is honesty. The experience that drove this point home was when I told my Catholic father on my eighteenth birthday that after three dreadful years of regular church attendance, I no longer wanted to go. Telling him I didn't believe in his God was devastating for him and strained our relationship for a while. Eventually, he understood because it was the straight truth, and we were well again, which taught me that sometimes good medicine tastes bad, even if its benefits aren't immediate. Honesty has been an essential quality for which I strive ever since. However, apostasy isn't the only way in which I've damaged relationships.

My Transition from Conservatism to Beneficial Flexibility



Since the day I was born, I have literally bathed in foreign languages. As I was born two years after the Soviet Union collapsed, my family, eyewitnessing the unemployment and financial turmoil of the epoch, instilled in me the inevitable necessity of learning several foreign languages and moving abroad later on. The curious thing is that, in spite of being a little child, I never resisted that. I loved the idea of exploring the entirely new world of languages other than my own. I started learning English at the age of three - my mother would always teach me Russian letters (it is my mothertongue), along with the English alphabet. My grandmother is to be given credit for teaching me the basics of the French language; we spent hours walking in nearby parks as she was stuffing me with a bunch of new French words on a regular basis.

Shaken Up



I can remember nothing of being ten years old.

When I was nine, I had a seizure. I only know of the event thanks to recollections of others. What I do know is that after exiting a cold lake and moving into a warm tub made me dizzy, I sought out my mother. I then collapsed, seized, and woke up in my parent's bed. A day had passed; for me, it felt like only a confusing few minutes. When I woke up next my mom was trying to get my attention as they rushed me to the mainland.

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