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For my year abroad it was possible to study at a French university, find a job in France or do an assistantship – being an English assistant in a French school. Of course, I chose the latter and the reason behind my decision was that it would give me an insight into whether I would like to be a teacher in that scary place, the future!

After completing just under 3 months of teaching in 3 French primary schools I can see that to be a teacher you have to have so much patience, the kids will push you to the limit whether they like you or not. For example, I had an inspection, a few weeks ago, from my responsable. Everything was going smoothly to start off with, then the notorious CM2 class queried who the lady at the back of the class was, she explained her role and the naughtiest of children piped up “She’s a good teacher, we like learning English with her”. O how sweet, I thought! Then, for the rest of the lesson, he was the biggest pain in the neck, ever! So he likes me and my classes but that is definitely not enough to make him behave! It is very much a rewarding job though, which makes the decision a little more difficult.

However, a few weeks ago I bought a French book to be reading in my spare time; Jamais Sans Mes Soeurs. As I got into the book I realised that it was in fact an English/American book that had been translated into French and that, in a way, opened a door for me. My favourite part of my French course has always been the translation side, I actually enjoy it. And before now I’d never really thought much about a translation job – simply because teaching appears to be the simple answer to everything. Now I’ve thought about it, I realise how much I would enjoy translating a book from English to French. Maybe that’s a line I’ll follow when it comes to that dreaded ‘thinking-about-the-future’ part of 4th year.

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I started writing the first of my 6 assignments, for the year abroad, the other day. The idea of this blog was to help me write my assignments but it just isn’t doing. I’m no good at reflection really, well, not in the way university wants me to reflect anyway. They are asking me to look back on my experiences so far, describe them and then how I overcame problems or came about having a good time. The thing is, I can’t write “well the way I overcame my problem was by having a complete mental breakdown, searching the Ryanair website for flights home and then being made to stay here as a result of no flights back.” That just is not what they’re looking for, and whilst I am enjoying myself right now I do feel that the only way, so far, I have found to overcome my problems is to meltdown and try to get out of the country. Failing to do that is what is keeping me here during hard times.

Anyway, the other day we had a nice evening out, which, in England it would have seemed relatively mundane. We headed for a pizza at a restaurant and then to the cinema. The fact that the cinema was a French cinema, with French films was what brings the excitement, rather than being an easy-to-do evening it was a cultural explosion. We watched a film called “Rien de personnel”, on leaving the cinema we appeared to have the gist of the film but would, in no way, be able to explain it in any depth, let alone to any cinematographic extent. A company was being evaluated, a rumour was stared, people tried to save their own skins – that’s it. When I got in and searched for the film on imdb it was summarised as this;

“A pharmaceutical company throws a gala party where all the employees from the top to the bottom are invited. Asked to participate in a role playing game which is actually a massive training simulation for the management team, rumors begin to circulate the the company may be acquired and everyone begins vying to save his or her own skin.”

Not far off with my gist thus encouraging thirst for more French films at the French cinema. I’m pretty sure Tuesday could become cinema night… especially with the acti-card(?) that we’re going to get – €1 movie tickets? Yes please!

Tomorrow I have the school that I dread the most. I’m prepared for the class that I take alone, this week. Halloween wordsearches, Halloween flashcards and a Halloween poem. I also intend on rewarding exceptional behaviour with British 1p and 2p coins. In theory, they should love me after tomorrow’s lesson. We’ll see! I have wine and a bottle opener just in case it goes not dissimilarly to last week!

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So today was my first day as an assistant d’anglais in 3 of the primary schools in Carcassonne. After spending all day yesterday in a bit of a hesitant tizzy I’m happy to announce that I love it.

My first school was really nice and whilst there was one “problem class” they weren’t ANYWHERE near as bad as classes I’ve seen en angleterre so I’m happy. The teacher is chatty and friendly and her method of teaching was great. She started off by simply introducing me to the class and then asked me towards the end of the class to tell the children about Halloween. With the second class, I had to host the “point to” game as well as telling the children about Halloween. By the time the third class came around she informed me I would be teaching them the ’10 Little Indian Boys’ song, hosting the “point to” game AND telling the children about Halloween. By the time I finished the third class my confidence was so high. After that I went to the classroom of “les plus petits” they were so tiny, I don’t ever remember being that small. They all beamed at me when I walked in and the teacher explained who I was. After being informed that they won’t really understand much of the English at all, but I will be singing songs, telling stories and reciting small poems to get their ears used to hearing the language, I sang ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes’ to them.

After my mad dash home for dinner and then back out to drop off yet more paperwork at the Inspection Academique I headed to my second school of the day. This school was a little bigger and a little more daunting than the previous, traditionally tiny, French primary school. I felt right at home straight away, I mainly observed from the back or side of the classroom when I was at this school. My first lesson I sat next to a young girl who wished me “bon courage” and wrote me little notes on the edge of her page to ask me how to say the number eleven, also the little girl in front of me handed me a pen when I failed to find mine in the bottom of my huge bag. Before the second class I spoke to a teacher whom I am assisting tomorrow and he was worried about what to teach the children because they are “les plus petits” and he has never taught them a language before, but I told him that at my other school it was all about the songs, so he set himself a task of finding simple songs to introduce them to the language. In the second class I observed the teacher seemed very strict from the doorway but once I got in she was very nice and looked at me a lot for advice on pronunciation of already perfectly pronounced words. In the 3rd class the teacher was lovely and the class was large and a tad lively but they seemed to really enjoy learning, which is great!

On returning back to my apartment, I put on my PJs and I sat down because my legs were about to give way. Teaching is a tiring job, but I can’t wait to get back it tomorrow!!!

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