Sorbonne Confidential tells the story of an American who tries to pass an exam to teach English in France.
Based on my own experiences at the Sorbonne, it explores with humor the link between how English teachers are selected, trained and promoted in France and the results of their students.
This book can now be downloaded in 30 seconds from Amazon.com onto Kindle.
Here is a description:
Sorbonne Confidential (English edition)
ISBN : Protected content
Summertime Publications Inc
After losing her high tech job in Paris, Alice Wunderland dreams of a new, unemployment-proof career as English teacher and decides to dedicate a year to training for France's prestigious competitive exam; After all, she reasons, how hard can it be for an educated American to pass a test in English? She enrolls at the Sorbonne, but her Arizona English fails to impress. Even Shakespeare's English falls short. Only one English will do: Sorbonne English! Even while learning this new language, Alice vows to investigate: Why devise an English exam that few native speakers can pass ? Could this explain why French schoolchildren rank last for English skills in Europe? Is it true that Frenchness is a question of formatting? If so, can a foreigner even one with French nationality ever become truly French? As riots break out in France among the children of immigrants, Alice cannot help but wonder: could there be any connection between her bewildering experience and theirs?
A dual national, graduate of France’s top business school (HEC), mother of bilingual children and former French city councilor, Zuckerman closely based Sorbonne Confidential (Fayard Protected content her experiences at the Sorbonne in Protected content . Her second book, Les Rêves Barbares du Professeur Collie, will be published by Fayard in French in Protected content .
THE PARIS TIMES – “Funny and ferocious, Sorbonne Confidential offers new insights into the challenges of integration and education in France.”
EDUCATION REVIEW – “Sorbonne Confidential… illustrates how objective measures can be far from objective—a concept often difficult to see when looking only at one’s own context. It illustrates how rigor by itself can distract, exclude, and alienate. By taking on an institution that began before the American Revolution, the book demonstrates how systems can develop around programs, allowing them to self-perpetuate without regard for their impact on schools and society. At some level, the book is also an argument for the power and importance of teacher education and of the need for systems that care more about creating good teachers than objectively assigning scores.
THE TIMES - « Laurel Zuckerman has split the academic world with a book that relates her experience at the heart of the archaic French teacher-training system.”
THE GUARDIAN – “[Zuckerman’s] account of her experience in France's teacher training system has… sparked a furious debate over the country's uneasy approach to English.”
THE IRISH TIMES – “The French government has declared the teaching of English a national priority. Most French school children study English for 10 years, yet few can speak it, and France continues to trail behind other EU countries in English-language performance, writes Lara Marlowe. So why can't the French speak English? Laurel Zuckerman, an American-born author who has lived for 24 years in France, says the country wastes millions of euro and man hours on a competitive selection system for teachers that predates the French revolution and ignores the two most obvious requirements: that teachers know how to teach, and that they speak English….”
LE MONDE DE l’EDUCATION - "The candidate imagines that being a native English speaker constitutes an advantage. She learns rather that it is a handicap. Her tribulations are the pretext for exploring with humour some of the elements which explain why French students rank last in Europe for English.” (“La candidate s'imagine que sa qualité d'anglophone lui donne des atouts supplémentaires. Elle s'aperçoit qu'il s'agit plutôt d'un handicap. Ses tribulations sont prétexte à mettre en évidence avec humour quelques-uns des éléments qui expliquent pourquoi les Français sont les mauvais élèves de l'Europe dans l'apprentissage de l'anglais."LE NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR – « savoury and highly instructive » (« Un ouvrage à la fois savoureux et hautement instructif. »)
LE POINT – « Her tragi-comic story explains how France produces the worst English teachers in the world » (« Son récit tragi-comique explique ni plus ni moins comment sont fabriqués les plus mauvais professeurs d'anglais du monde »)
L’EXPRESS - « Absurd, ill-adapted, discriminatory. And dramatically funny…The French university system seen through the half naïve, half incredulous eyes of an American. The reader laughs a lot and concludes that reform is urgent”
(“Absurde, inadapté, discriminant. Et dramatiquement drôle. Ainsi apparaît le système universitaire français vu à travers les yeux mi-candides, mi-incrédules d'une Américaine. On rit beaucoup et on se dit qu'il est décidément urgent de réformer le système » )
A hilarious, hair-raising insider's look at the esoteric world of French Education. (Harriet Welty Rochefort --author of French Toast.