Sunday, October 27, 2013

French Vocabulary: Learning Ballet

Starting ballet, a student's earliest challenge in class might be the terminology, most of which is in French. They make sense for Francophone dancers: plié implies that something is bent, sauté is a jump, rond de jambe means a circular movement involving the leg. For a non-speaker of French, it is a whole new language to learn.

Regardless of one's familiarity with French, learning a language and learning to dance are really similar: when teaching a language, there are times when students cannot pronounce a certain word despite the instructor splitting it into syllables on the board. The instructor may think that they are mocking her—after all, how hard can it be to repeat a word? Apparently, it is.

Guess what, student dancer faces the same frustration: “Extended leg goes here, arms go there, head stays here. Now go back to first position. Good, now repeat.” Student dancer's blank stare on the mirror is no different than those of language learners.

Here are some ballet terms, see if your students can imagine the movements each of them names:

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