Friday, 16 September 2011

avoir un chat dans la gorge ) (lit: to have a cat in your throat): to have a frog in your throat

So I'm now feeling a million times more human again thank god! I honestly felt horrendous start of the week, it was awful! There's been a lot of hacking and coughing as it hit my chest but I've soldiered on (yeah I know okay break out the violin) but you can't be poorly when running after children all day and everyone has been soooo nice! I crawled out of bed one morning to find this 'soothe your throat' kit set up for me in the kitchen from the landlady...

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And then there was this genius pressie to cheer me up found by Michelle

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Voice is still hanging in there...just! although very nearly lost it today as the kids were especially fractious and trying to make yourself heard in a big open space is not easy! Someone with a particularly cruel sense of humour designed this timetable and saw fit to make Friday afternoons a 2 hour lesson with the CP class (the youngest in the school...) Every session with the younger years I use 'heads, shoulders, knees and toes'. This has been a massive succes as it has been filtering back to the parents who have been asking me about it at the school gates...

"ah my leetle guuurl sez they 'ave beeeen learrrrneeeng a song, sum-seenk about 'eads and shoulderrrrrs"

My initial thought was a suspicious gangster style

"why who wants to know?!"

Turns out They LOVE it (the parents and kids do) Good shout :)

But this Friday...not so much love.

heads, shoulders, knees and etienne please stop that...
heads, shoulders, knees and Pierre stand by me....
And eyes and MARIE!!! and mouth and Matt..
Heads, Jean, pay attention! Knees and toes....

I felt like Joyce Grenfell.

Quite a lot of extra curricular going on this week as we prepare for the upcoming workshops. In France schools are almost like a daycare for parents I mean the children at our school can be there from 08:30 til 7pm and asides normal lessons there are English enrichment classes (supplementary English lessons in addition to normal English lessons) and soon to be added to the timetable will be workshops. These are extra curricular but also held in English. We sat down and discussed what workshops Michelle, Christian and I would be offering and as of the end of September I will be running dance and drama! (of course).

Also this week on Thursday night we had the first of the parents evenings, where the parents come in and we present to them the programme for the year. The English department line up looked like the start of a bad joke as there was Anne who is Irish, Chris who is Welsh, I'm English and Michelle is South African... What an international bunch we are and only one country away from populating the school with the entire British isles. Christian spoke about the English plans for the year, Michelle spoke about English and History, Anne English enrichment and me...the only non French speaker had to talk about sport as for me the next year will see athletics, ball sports, dance, gymnastics and finally orienteering. I have a busy year ahead! The parents were all very keen to know I would NOT be speaking any French to their children as they want them surrounded by English (absolutely no worries for them there!) and the talks went well. I had an interpreter (good work to that woman I speak at a rate of knots!) but generally despite my liveliness I think the French understand me pretty well...
I speak mostly franglais and mime! Drop in French words when I know them, English when I dont and hand gestures otherwise... Luckily for me. In fact the fact I'm so animated amuses them no end so I've been getting on just fine.

As we had a good few hours between end of lesson and the start of parents evening Chritsian, Michelle and I all took ourselves for a walk into Montry, grabbed a fresh baguette at the local boulangerie and some cream cheese and headed back to school for our 'supper'. Very civilised. We aren't actually but it sounds it. Also this week Michelle bought us another little pressie...

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Yes sir you can now get mcvities in France!!! Although cheeky beggars the advert says
'C'est Anglais, mais, c'est Bon!' which translates to 'it's English, but, it's good!'

I also found cadburys milk and WHITE chocolate fingers in my local! Now if someone could please come visit me and bring me a packet of chocolate hobnobs... there's nothing wrong with french biscuits, I mean they are super generous with the chocolate but there's nothing quite like your old familiars. Although for a fitness person I'm keeping my food as healthy as possible BUT with working in a school there are far too many biscuits and cakes going round...

Everyday when waiting for the children to come out for their first lesson i have my coffee with the school secretary (theres always cake in that office too) and I have to laugh as in this particular room is a board filled with postcards, mostly english ones and these 2 are at the top together;

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Both my former homes!!!

Anyway back to parnes evening.... I can absolutely promise the parents their children are getting English, I'm picking up some useful words and phrases for clarification and reinforcement purposes but that's it. The most important words for my job are: écouter, asseyez vous, régardez-moi, avancer, en y va (that's what it sounds like anyway!) allez and STOP!!! To put all these words in English and one sentence it would be: stop, sit down, look at me, listen, off we go, keep moving... MOVE!

obviously if the children are talking to me Then i can understand them quite often by the tone of voice and child's hand actions and facial expressions so I can work out what they're asking me...and mostly the answer to the question is 'NO' as it is basically

"missssss can we....?!"

I'd recognise it in any language. But if they want to whinge then they can do so "en Anglais s'il vous plait je ne comprends pas" is my usual answer. If it was something serious or urgent then yes we'd forget finer points like talking to me in English but 11 times out of 10 it's just children being children :)

I think the best was one young boy in English enrichment... I understand he finds any excuse not to complete his work in usual English lessons and so my supplementary lesson was going to be no exception. Basically he was trying to say he couldn't work because his throat huuuuurrrrrttttt. This was after I'd croaked my way through 'i can sing a rainbow' 5 times so I pointed at my throat said "moi aussi" and pointed out luckily his hand and his throat weren't connected so shouldn't impair on his work too much. No he hadn't finished by the end of class so je suis desolee.....DEVOIR! (homework...) hey you gotta crack down now.

I have to say English enrichment class makes me feel like a grown up all of a sudden (about time I guess) I'm stood there with a piece of chalk in my hand at the front of the class and they are all (for the most part) hanging on to my every word. Im transported back to my days in primary school only now theres a role reversal and it feels like no time has oassed at all. On Thursday later as I was sat in the English room marking their work I felt a lot like you did when you were very little and playing 'teacher' with your friends, sitting round marking each others drawings and scribbles and writing 'good' or 'great effort' and a smiley face to back it up. I still feel like that little girl.

Despite having felt rotten it's been nice to be out In the fresh air, the weather has been pretty hot this week so have been outside where possible and due to the surrounding woodland have so far been joined by a deer, a lizard and woodpeckers for sessions this week :) actually there's an abundance of woodpeckers, more so than any other bird in fact! You regularly hear the shrill call from the trees but generally they are pretty elusive. Also see lots and lots of jays out here! Jays are simply stunning and whilst I occasionally glimpsed them in Devon the french jays are a lot less shy than their prudish British cousins. With british jays it's almost like they know they are that beautiful so never let you look at them for too long...

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The children are really getting into their sports lessons and you know it's a job well done when they exclaim they can't believe the lesson is over already as it went so quick and one little boy said he'd rather do another hour of sport than go out to play at midday when I told them session was over and it was lunchtime! Praise indeed. If you start them young you can get them just right so right now it's all about making fitness fun and helping to make it a part of their lifestyle, exercise should NEVER be a chore. This week for the younger children I used the butterfly effect which involved a cone drill of walk, jog, run (they had a choice depending on the direction they took) with the cones laid out in a butterfly shape to get them to experiment with different speeds and explore their stamina! Then each child has a butterfly with the instructions on and off they go! (the end of term curriculum plan involves orienteering so this is a GREAT early introduction to that for them!)

Butterflies for each child:

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On the desks ready for them after lunchtime!

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They design their own for added fun! You give them 5 minutes and it becomes serious business this colouring in. The slightly older children got stuck in and for 5 minutes there was nothing but the scratching of pencils. The teacher and I kept calling or their attention and reminding them to breathe.... The littlest children however (schools youngest) take a lot longer to do things, in fact half of PE can be taken up just trying to organise them! When they had their butterflies there was a lot of whispering as colour consultations went on round the room, some got their pencils out and sat there meticulously co-ordinating them and lining them up perfectly straight and patting them down so they all lined up and god forbid one of them wasn't as sharp as the others (Michelle learned this for art in her first week, ensure all crayons are SHARP because the children will obsess over it and spend the entire lesson if possible lining up at the bin, sharpener in hand ensuring they are sharpened adequately to their standards). Those little ones who were colouring in though rather than planning it in their heads were elbows up, Tongue poking out of one corner of their mouth and the air was filled with the scratching sound of a crayon that was in danger of being ground through the paper and into the desk...

A selection of finely designed butterflies/papillon:

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The butterfly!

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Everyday should definitely have some colour and a LOT of laughter.

Anyway I'm heading into the weekend...but first I gotta get someone to move over...

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