A/N: I tutor English for new migrants. The other day we presented this exact lesson to our students and all I could think of was Marinette and Adrien having to do the exercise. I'm sorry I don't speak French, as I'd like to have written this story in a combination of French and English if I did. Please assume that most general conversation is in French, and only the bits in italics are actually spoken in English.
The class was paying about its usual amount of attention for an English lesson, getting out notebooks haphazardly and talking away. Mme. Chard turned away from the board, where she'd written the word COMPLIMENTS in big letters. "Class, we've been practising simple adjectives and nouns about people for the last two weeks. You all did fine on the quiz on Tuesday. Now I want to use those words to make simple sentences. You'll need to write proper sentences for the exam at the end of term. I thought we could start with compliments."
Alix called out from the back "What if we've nothing nice to say?" There was an amused titter from somewhere else in the room.
Mme. Chard smiled. "That's exactly why we practice them. Compliments aren't easy! But, if you are in an English speaking country it will be helpful to you if you can recognise when someone is trying to compliment you. It can also be a way to start a conversation with a new classmate or colleague. For example: "I like your red shirt" or "I like your sparkly shoes". We're going to practice compliments that all have this same structure. They're not too personal so you can use them with people you don't know very well."
She looked around the classroom. "You can put away your files, we're not going to be writing anything down this lesson. It's just speaking and listening today and I want your attention on what you're hearing with your ears." Notebooks slid back into bags. Nino slumped a little on his desk.
"To start with, just try out a few sentences with the person you sit with. Remember, English has the same sentence order as French. The verb "like" goes in the middle, the person who likes goes first and the thing they like goes last." Mme. Chard wrote her example on the board and pointed at each word as she spoke. "So you will start with 'I', then 'like', then the thing you like. Because this is also last week's revision, I want to hear you use an adjective as well as a noun. It's no good to say just 'dress' or 'hair', you have to describe the dress or hair. Use last week's word list just like you did in the quiz. Make sure you say the adjective before the noun, not after. If you say shirt blue I'll have to take marks off your quiz scores." She was probably joking.
People began to murmur to themselves and each other. Rose turned to Juleka. "I, like... black hair". Mme Chard called out "Bien, Rose! But you've forgotten something. Class, what else do we have to have in the sentence?" There was a blank silence.
Adrien put up his hand. "Mme, there must be a possessive."
"Très bon, Adrien. Rose does not like anyone's black hair, she likes Juleka's black hair. She is speaking directly to Juleka, so what word should she use?"
Sabrina put up her hand. "Your!".
"Excellent, Sabrina. Try again, Rose."
Rose shrunk a little as she realised the whole class was now watching her. Juleka nodded at her encouragingly.
"I, like, your... black hair!" she managed to get out, the last words piling over each other.
"Très bon, Rose. Everybody, please practice with each other. Try a few different combinations. I will listen to each of you individually in a few minutes."
Alya looked past Marinette, and laughed. "How do you think Chloe will go with this? I don't think she's said anything nice to anyone in her life!". Marinette snickered. "Like Mme. Chard said, that's why we practice!" Alya nodded at something over Marinette's shoulder. "You mean, Sabrina practises." Marinette glanced over and saw Chloe studying her nails, while Sabrina fed her compliments in English.
Marinette took in a deep breath. "OK, let's do this". She read the first words off the board. "I – like – your – ummmmmm, uh... curly hair".
Alya grinned. "Pretty good work for someone who misses so much class! My go. I – like – your – shiny hair."
Marinette giggled. "I misspelled shiny on the quiz. OK. I like – your – what colour is your shirt, anyway? Do I say all of them?"
"No, girl, you say the pattern." Alya reached for last week's notes. "It was... what was that word? I asked her last week. Ummm... here it is. Plaaade. No, I mean plaid."
"OK, so, I like your, plaid, shirt". They high-fived.
Mme. Chard clapped for attention. The hubbub drew down. "Bien joue, class. I like what I've been hearing. Most of you are making good sentences. This shouldn't be too hard for you because you already know all of these words. So now we're going to go around the class and give a compliment to the next person. Starting with Chloe. Chloe gives a compliment to Sabrina, then Sabrina gives one to Alix, who gives one to Mylene and so on. We'll listen to each of you. Chloe, go ahead please."
Chloe tossed her hair back over her shoulder. "I like my little hat".
"My isn't the right word there, Chloe. You're giving the compliment to Sabrina, not yourself."
"Of course it's the right word. It IS my hat, I loaned it to her."
Mme. Chard sighed and moved on. There were bigger battles to fight, and you couldn't argue that Chloe didn't understand what she'd said. "Now, Sabrina. To Alix."
The compliment chain wove around the class. Kim complimented Max on his big glasses. Max complimented Ivan on his shirt black, and Mme. Chard called out "Adjectives go first!". Ivan complimented Alya on her black glasses. Alya complimented Marinette on her pink jeans. Which meant... oh no... please no... Marinette's brain started to freeze up.
"Marinette, to Adrien please."
Marinette went white, then blushed red. She looked at her desk and kept her eyes there. "Ummmm... like your..."
"You need a subject in your sentence, Marinette. Who is doing the liking?"
"Uhh... je, I mean I.."
"...keep going. Full sentence."
"I l... li.. li... "
"I like, ummmmm"
Marinette had no idea what to say. It was ADRIEN. She liked everything about him. How was she supposed to pick one thing? And what if she picked the wrong thing and it made him hate her? She looked at him in terror. He was looking at her. At HER! Waiting for her to speak! One thing went straight through her drowning brain. "Green! Um... green... ice, no, eyes..."
"Whose green eyes?"
"Y...you... your green eyes".
"Bien, Marinette. Adrien, to Nino."
Adrien gave her a tiny smile and turned to Nino. Marinette thought she was going to die on the spot. Alya punched her arm, lightly, and whispered "You did it! I thought you were going to faint!"
"I did too!"
"You're lucky. Everyone else is stuttering their sentences too so you fit right in!" Alya got a wicked grin. "Hey, now that you've practiced in class, maybe you should say it to him after school". She ducked as Marinette grabbed the notebook and tried to slap her with it.
"Marinette", called Mme. Chard, "your notebook is supposed to be away, not being used to fight your neighbour. Please pay attention, someone is saying something to you."
The girls turned forward again to realise they were now doing the compliment chain in reverse. And Adrien was looking straight at Marinette, about to speak.
Marinette remembered almost nothing of the rest of the day. All she heard, whenever anyone spoke to her, was "Marinette, I like your blue eyes".