Institut Francais in Kensington?(10 Posts)
Has anyone else tried the Institut Francais shows? What do you think? Have seen one fanastic one and wondered if they are always that good.
Also, if you are members, do you use the children's library and how do you find it?
I use the children's library all the time and it's brilliant. Great stock, kind staff, plenty of space.
I don't attend the shows anymore because they are in English or bilingual. I am not dragging my three-year-old on a one-hour trip to see a play in a library in English, or even a bilingual one, certainly not for £5 a head.
What she is short of - and what no other libraries in London offer - is native speaker shows in French. I did take her to see a couple of those when the Institut used to do them, but before she was really old enough to go regularly the Institut lost their nerve and went down the English/bilingual route. Shame really.
T oexpand - the review says "For those of the right age though, what better way to learn the words la tête, les bras, les doigts than to fear having them gobbled up by a big, scary giant!" Well, my daughter has known those words since she was about 18 months, because she is a native bilingual. She learnt them from me, at home. What she needs, to expand her current vocabulary, is the sort of monolingual show that her peers in France, Belgium, Canada and Senegal are watching - and the Institut no longer provides it.
MIFLAW - I think you are right that those shows are for French or English learners really, rather than bilinguals. I would class my kids as learners really, so it worked for us.
I did take my daughter to one of their Baby French Tales events which was all in French, but she is five and thought it was just for babies. Might work for a three year old? (though I didn't actually think the quality was that brilliant).
As I say, when we have gone to the native things it has been appropriate and enjoyable - and I don't really mind paying £5 for something amateur in French because that's the goal, the exposure to natural French.
When it's in Englsih or for learners, on the other hand - well, lots of places offer English amateur productions for less than a fiver, she can go with her mum to something near our house (or a professional show in town) - and she doesn't need a show for learners because she's not a learner, she's a native.
I've raised this with the staff but they seem to think the market is not there for French-only shows. Leaving aside the French population of 200,000 in London (not including Swiss, Belgians, Canadians, Congolese, Malgaches ...) my view is that there is even less of a market for shows based on the works of Hugo delivered in English with a French accent, but I am not their commercial director ...
I can imagine that must be immensely frustrating. Especially if this is a facility you had and then lost. And then people like me that just want the French exposure for their children come along and enjoy something which is actually a tainted version of what it was before in some ways. Guess it doesn't really help you that I really enjoyed it!
I think it's great that they provide this service and that you enjoy and benefit from it.
Nevertheless, I think they sometimes struggle with their double (or even triple) mission.
On the one hand, they are cultural ambassadors of France and that must clearly include helping non-natives to learn and value French.
But they are also a cultural beacon to French nationals (and, arguably, they have a third mission to be a similar beacon to and on behalf of native speakers of French from countries other than France). That seems to be the goal of their libraries, for example (VERY few books about learning French, the goal is more to be a local "mediatheque" for the London french-speaking community).
I think the current children's situation is all about delivering on the first goal and doesn't deliver at all on the second (and third) goals.
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