“Oui,” said Reynolds, when approached for further comment.
In a move described by classmates as “ingenious,” “creative,” and “frustrating,” Jeffrey Reynolds has managed to complete 2 years’ worth of participation in his French class using only the word for “yes.”
Reynolds explained that his strategy to avoid being caught off-guard with intricate questions centered around preemptively replying “oui” when his professor addressed the group as a whole. “She knew I was paying attention and I guess she figured I was on board with whatever gibberish she was saying,” he said of the tactic, which resulted in an ‘A+’ for the participation portion of his grade.
Reynolds occasionally did change his term of choice to not appear one-dimensional, saying alternatively “de temps en temps” or “peut-être” where appropriate.
“Sometimes it would be a little nerve-wracking when LaBelle looked at me for a beat longer than usual, and I thought she might pick me to respond to a reading, but I’d glance down at my textbook to pretend to be too focused on studying to speak, and she’d select a new target,” said Reynolds.
When asked for comment, LaBelle said of the student, “He’s a bright kid—always eager and so positive!”
Although his technique worked for participation, other portions of his grade posed additional challenges. “Written assignments were a little more difficult, but I found that restating the question posed and adding minimal original thought really got the job done,” said Reynolds.
Since finishing his foreign language requirement, Reynolds has mastered the art of arriving to his English class unprepared and sitting close beside a student who remembered to print the readings.