David Sedaris Me Talk Pretty One Day

The story of “Me Talk Pretty One day” is about Sedrais’ candid description of his struggle to learn fluent French while residing and attending school in Paris, France. The author points out to the reader that his understanding of French isn’t completely null as he had vacationed in France in the past and had attended French classes in America. However, Mr. Sedrais’ opinion of his level of understanding the new language changes drastically when he finds himself unable to communicate properly with the little French knowledge he possesses and his instructor’s condescending attitude confirms this theory.

Having analyzed the text and my previous notes, several key points have stood out that support Mr. Sedrais’ message of the difficulties of learning a new language as an adult and the impact cultural shock has. He tells the audience about the long hours of studying he endures in the evenings in hopes to hear any positive feedback from his professor yet seems to never reach her desired standards. Mr. Sedrais tells us about his insecurities about practicing outside of class and the cultural shock it implicates just to do our average daily tasks like buying food at the butcher’s or a trip to the local grocery store.

The fears and insecurities Mr. Sedrais tells the audience about are fairly common to the average expat living abroad once the honeymoon stage of living in a foreign country passes, having experienced it myself on multiple occasions. Having a teacher that clearly enjoys putting her students on the spot and exposing their lack of knowledge to the whole class increase the author’s fears of public ridicule and knowledge insecurities.

The intended audience for this specific story fragment is the young adult to middle aged traveler and adult student between the ages of 30 and 55. Possibly requiring a higher than average economical status in order to sustain themselves in a foreign country that seeks to learn a foreign language by fully immersing themselves in the local culture this language is native to. The challenges the author is presented with is convincing his audience that in spite of the difficulties presented to him throughout his journey, the personal gratification will be far greater than the struggle.

Mr. Sedrais’ anecdotal description of his experience being quite negative and exhausting can be discouraging for the casual language student whom doesn’t need to learn a foreign language. People who might have considered taking on an exchange student program might find the stress of full immersion to be far greater than the sense of personal accomplishment and possibly even change their mind about taking on such a program.

The argument Mr. Sedrais that learning a foreign language as an adult can be difficult but absolutely worth it is accurate and can be confirmed throughout the story. He progressively understands his teacher’s insults better as he clearly states at the beginning of the story how little he understood her on their first day in class during their introductions. He points out how many hours a day he dedicates to studying and that in spite of all the invested time he feels like he isn’t learning quite fast enough. He proves his point quite comically by receiving his teacher’s insults with open arms and even asking for more as he realizes how well he understood her.

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