All posts tagged: teaching in France

27 mars – clues

Today I had a lot of different slices in my head, but I can’t seem to get any of them out today because I’m excited about something else. Three of my fifth grade classes have been working on rooms in the house, hobbies, and family. vocabulary in English. These classes are really motivated and their classroom teachers do a lot of reinforcement of my activities on days when I’m not there, so their level is really high. I decided to try an activity that is a bit more difficult than our standard fare of flashcard games and charades. Tomorrow we are playing CLUE! It was always one of my favorite board games growing up, enamored of Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown as I was. I always wanted to play be Professor Plum. My sister was usually Madam Scarlet, and if I remember correctly, I believe my dad often played as Colonel Mustard. Tomorrow, we won’t have the same colorful characters. I’ve modified the game to include the vocabulary we’ve been working on all year long. Instead of wondering …

7 mars – English is hard

English is hard. Well, sometimes it’s easy: no crazy verb conjugations, no gendered nouns to memorize and accord with adjectives, no difference between formal or informal “you”. But then it gets complicated: pronunciation that has absolutely nothing to do with a word’s spelling, exceptions on exceptions on exceptions, not to mention all of the variations of English spoken around the world. This last one is what trips me up most often in my job. Overwhelmingly, British English is preferred over American English by my colleagues and those of my friends. Students are exposed to both, but by and large, BE is the rule. Things I’m asked to teach that aren’t natural to me, an AE speaker, include: Have you got brothers and sisters? I’m wearing trousers and a jumper. It’s 23 past 4. Today is Tuesday, the 7th of March Take out your copybook and rubber. François is a CM2 (5th grade) teacher who loves to teach English. In his class, I co-teach with him, rather than intervene on my own. He is teaching his …

6 mars – actuellement/currently

Currently: Shivering as the wind storm clatters through the shutters and the drafty windows Sipping warm vanilla tea Tapping through tabs Prioritizing my to-do list Slicing just one more morsel of the Parmigiano-Reggiano brought back from Italy Googling the spelling of Parmigiano-Reggiano… Learning about “cheese crystals” on wikipedia Crunching on them in real life Refocusing on tomorrow’s English lessons: Hobbies in CM1, Houses in CM2, and ??? for CE2 Laying out my options, Considering what I already have prepared, Wondering what will be the most fun, Wondering what’s realistically achievable Hoping my next day off will be more productive than today… What are you doing, currently? ❂ Thanks, Fran McVeigh for the inspiration!   Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.  

4 mars – Things that I do in France that I don’t do at home

Eat yogurt When you first come to France, you expect the grocery store aisles of cheese and wine, but you don’t expect an equally long aisle dedicated to yogurt. It’s like a way of life in France. I don’t think I have a single colleague who doesn’t finish their lunch with a container of yogurt and/or a fruit. For some, it’s a simple fromage blanc, others prefer a classic fruit on the bottom, and still others go for a dessert flavored yogurt. Despite almost never craving yogurt in the U.S. I took up this custom, and now enjoy yogurt daily at the end of my lunch, and occasionally as a snack or with some granola. Drink tea The French are obsessed with coffee. And not even particularly good coffee: in fact, a high percentage of French people I know frequently drink instant coffee. A French teachers’ lounge would be incomplete without a coffee maker, and there is usually a line during every recess and lunch break. Luckily, for those who don’t drink coffee (myself included) there …

So, do you like living here?

I am asked ALL THE TIME why I decided to come to France, if I like it (obviously), and what I like most about living here. Frankly, I think that’s a bit too complex and personal of a question to ask in such conversational contexts, but I usually come up with some generic answer about wine, cheese, how much I love speaking French and how much more calm and relaxed the style of life is here compared to the USA… things that are generally true but not the most accurate responses. I’ve always had a huge breadth of interests. Without trying to sound like an asshole, I love doing – and am pretty good at – quite a lot of things: directing plays, arts administration, working with kids, making awesome anchor charts, teaching drama, managing social media, writing, speaking French, foreign cultures and travel, politics etc. Over the years I’ve dabbled in so many different things, without giving myself enough time or investment to really commit to any of them in a deliberate way. The …

the vicious TAPIF cycle

Recently I found a notebook that I bought in Chambéry and used throughout my year as an assistant. Tucked among the pages, I found a cootie catcher/fortune teller, made in Turin and filled with ridiculous jokes and general absurdity. It contained fortunes such as: One of the richest men in Christendom will take a shine to you and marry you. You will return to Chambery and NEVER LEAVE. You will become the conductor of the little train. Like Hannah, you will be trapped in the vicious TAPIF cycle and shall be an assistant for the rest of your days. Turns out, those things are powerful. 22 months later, and I’ve just received a second French long-stay visa in the mail. Yes, just like Hannah, I found myself drawn back into the TAPIF cycle and am doomed to return to France again! Here’s what I know so far: I’ll be teaching in three (3) primary schools in the 9th and 10th arrondissements of Marseille. None of these three schools have ever had an English assistant before, nor …

two very different lessons

This afternoon, I sat in on a lesson the school counselor was giving to my mom’s class of 3rd graders. They learned to be a “friend to some, kind to all.” They learned how to use “I Messages” when they had conflicts with their friends, and how to respond when their actions accidentally hurt someone. The class played a role playing game where the counselor gave a scenario, and with a partner, they had to play out how they would respond using the I Messages and Responses they had just learned. “I felt upset when you said you didn’t want to play with me. Next time could you please be kinder?” “You were mad when I said I wouldn’t play with you. But it’s because this game only has 4 players. Next time you can switch with someone to get a chance!” One year ago, I was helping the English teacher at my French school lead a very different kind of role playing game. This class of CM2, or 5th graders, was also learning about conflicts …