Friday, December 4, 2009

Did I mention that I'm working?

While this blog has mainly been dedicated to my weekend escapes far far from Trévoux, I've decided it was high time that I talk about my job! Yes, I assure you, I am actually working. Twelve hours a week, but working all the same.

I meet with students Tuesday through Thursday. Usually I'm taking a group of four to nine students out of their English class to speak in English and give a lesson on some aspect of American culture. The past two weeks have been all about Thanksgiving. I have single handedly put the rumors to rest that it is a religious British holiday. When asked if they knew anything about the holiday's history they all said, "Turkey." FYI French turkeys say "glou glou" instead of "gobble gobble." I have also single handedly instilled the fear of God in them after showing a video about Black Friday. And despite my insistence that sweet potato casserole is really yummy, they have all turned up their noses at the idea of a vegetable covered in marshmallows. However, after finally braving my scary and vague French oven to make a pumpkin pie for the English club, I did convince some of them that pumpkin pie, at least, is really delicious. The English club only ate half of it, so the other two groups I met on Thanksgiving day polished it off. I had never met these groups until that day and I had them all go around and tell me one thing they were thankful for. And one boy said, "I am thankful for you because you gave me pumpkin pie!" Aw! The past two weeks the song I've used for them (the lyrics with missing words exercise) is "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift. The boys loved the music video because they thought Taylor was cute and the girls loved it because they thought her love interest was cute. One girl even said, "They don't make them like that in France!"

On Tuesdays there is one teacher that I always help in her own classroom. Her classes are the ones that have been reading Twilight and they are some of my favorites. So I was really excited when I got to do a Thanksgiving lesson with her class of 16 boys (I took half the class at a time) for the first time on my own this week. I've been working with these boys for a while now, but they have remained pretty shy around me, maybe because they're my youngest students. For example, the other day one of them was running up the staircase like his life depended on it. Hearing all the calamity, I turned around and he saw it was me. So he immediately began crawling along behind me at tortoise speed. Maybe he thought I would speak to him in English? I don't know, but never have a felt more like a "teacher." This same kid came into class late as I was taking half of them out for their lesson and he was absolutely begging the teacher to let him come with me. I was really surprised because I've just never been able to work out what this class really thinks of me. But what really won these boys over, besides getting them out of a grammar lesson, was hangman. They're just crazy over it! Each student drew out a vocabulary word relating to Thanksgiving. Once the class had solved it, I told them what it was in French. When the second group of boys came in, the first group was just devastated that they couldn't keep playing, while the others started high-fiving each other because they could see they were going to get to play. Later this week I passed this class in the hall (the halls are very skinny and, thus, always congested) and they all swept gallantly and dramatically to the side to let me pass, each daring to say "hi" to me and looking very proud of themselves in the process. I can't believe I'm winning hearts with hangman, of all things!

When the school told me I would have to start an English club, I was taken aback. An English club? What in the world would I do with an English club? Sure, I was in the French club in high school, but... we never actually did anything that I can remember besides eat at a French restaurant. And I can assure you there are no American restaurants in Trévoux whatsoever! I was also told that a) there had never been an English club before or b) there was, but it only consisted of one student. Great prospects, right?! So I announced to every class that I was doing it during the second hour of "lunch hour," where students usually do an elective or something (honestly, I still don't quite understand what's going on). It started off with about eight students, thanks to my technical class that's "in love with me." But then they had to start doing something course related at the same time, so we were down to two. Out of the blue some of my absolute shyest students started showing up and now we're back up to about eight a week. I can't believe it! They are all the sweetest and brightest students in the world. I love, love, love English club! This week they insisted that I teach them some Christmas carols. So I used the Disney Christmas sing-a-long I watched when I was a kid and they learned "Let It Snow!" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." They were particularly psyched to learn the "like a lightbulb" and things we do with it for fun. Some are hoping to go Christmas caroling in the teacher's lounge next week, but I've got to get it approved first! Others, I think, would die of stage fright!

"Stage fright" is something I have become well acquainted with in my time here. I don't know if it's the fact that they don't have confidence in their speaking ability or the fact that I'm a native speaker or what, but sometimes I've got a group classest full of mutes! They're much better at English than they realize, but things would go smoother if they asked me to repeat or reword something for them. No matter how many times I tell them at the beginning of class not to be afraid to ask me to speak slower or repeat something, they are always too scared to it. Technically it's supposed to be an English-only environment. But if they don't understand, they don't understand! So sometimes I do break it down for them in French. At the end of the day, I would rather have my shy students. I've heard horror stories of assistants running out of their classrooms crying because their students were so mean and disrespectful. So maybe getting half of them to speak is like pulling teeth sometimes, but at least they're all nice!

Now pop some popcorn, dim the lights, and put your phone on silent because it's time for two classes' interpretations of Twilight...

Twilight 1 from Sally Anderson on Vimeo.

Please note both classes' creativity for gym class :)

Twilight 2 from Sally Anderson on Vimeo.


  1. you belong with me is the best song ever!! good choice sally

  2. Those videos crack me up. You are too cute making your classes perform! Great job! Nice post about work too. I was beginning to think you lived in Paris or something (kidding). :)

  3. Thanks guys! And yeah, I pretty much don't live here, Ali ;)