Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What an English Assistant Actually Does

In addition, to running around Europe and looking at cool things, I actually am working while I'm in France. While I'm sure my mother and my sister enjoyed me showing them a story about turkeys while we were skyping earlier this week, I don't think that I accurately explained to them what exactly it is that I do. So, here it is.

The kids that I work with are young. From about age 6 to 10/11ish. On the one hand, this is perfect because they are in the stage where they are adorable and when I walk outside during recess, I am mobbed by young French children who run up to me to say hello and hug me. On the other hand, their English skills are pretty basic (but still much more impressive than my French skills at age 6). For the youngest, we learn maybe 5 words a week. The oldest ones can learn more and can usually understand part of the instructions that I give in English. It depends.

Although it seems as if they aren't learning much, please remember that most of my students have about an hour of English practice a week, and I'm with them for about half of it. The main goals for my students in elementary are for them to get used to making sounds in English (especially sounds that aren't normally used in French) and to get used to how English sounds. When children are exposed to a foreign language early, it makes it so much easier for them to learn it later.

I try to do similar lessons with all of my classes for each week, but I modify the lessons for the ages of the students. I also try to have some back up ideas in case whatever I have planned just isn't working with a particular group. Because sometimes the class that has finished with recess isn't quite so calm as the one that I had at 9 am.

One of my favorite lessons so far has been the one from last week. Yes, I use pinterest for my lesson ideas occasionally. My older children learned a song called "Five Little Ducks." We went through it line by line, and I made the motions with the ducks. Then, I sang one line at a time with them while they sang it back. And, then we sang it together. French ducks don't say quack, quack. They say coin, coin. So, as you can imagine, they loved making the English duck sounds.

I made lots of duck noises that day. Sometimes, I feel slightly ridiculous in front of the class, but since they're happy, I just keep on going.

The students also like whenever we do cultural lessons. My roommate (who is from the UK) did a tour of London lesson with her students. She handed out tickets for the bus, had a powerpoint that showed all the sights in London, and had postcards for the children to write.

She even made a mail box for the postcards. So much cooler than any of my lessons. I definitely wanted to join her classes and listen with the children.

Although I titled this post What an English Assistant Actually Does, we all do slightly different things. It depends a lot on what the teachers want, what the students are capable of doing, and what the assistant wants to do.

This week I'm talking about Thanksgiving, of course. With my younger classes we read a story about a turkey and learned a few words. With my older classes, we'll learn a few words as well, and I have a powerpoint about Thanksgiving with a little bit of the history and with today's traditions (that includes a short clip of a football game, naturally).

Also, thanks to my friends who sent Halloween cards to me in October. My students loved it! And, for those who want to send Christmas cards for me to show my class, then put them in the mail within the next week or so, so that they'll get to me in time. Of course, I'll be happy to get any cards whether or not I get them in time to use with my class.

Hope everyone at home has a Happy Thanksgiving this week!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Midnight in Paris

We had a picnic under the Eiffel Tower. At midnight.

There were plastic tarps spread out on the grass in the space in front of the Eiffel Tower. The weather was surprisingly warm even at midnight. The plastic might have been just a little bit wet, but a water spot on your clothes is a small price to pay in exchange for a prime spot to watch the Eiffel Tower light up the sky before you. We had a baguette and a block of Reblochon cheese to share. Earlier in the night, we had gone to Ladurée. Vanilla, chocolate, and caramel macaroons.

Picnicking in front of the Eiffel Tower.

I cannot believe that I am in France. Again. I keep repeating it, but it's true.

During the last few days of the fall holidays, I went to Paris. I have a friend who's currently studying in Italy, and she's got a friend who's working in the UK. So, the three of us met up in Paris, and for several days three Ole Miss girls got to wander around the city of lights.

We had a string of misadventures which included losing each other in the metro and watching as the subway doors closed between us.

During our picnic we had what I can only refer to as a strange encounter. We were enjoying ourselves for our last night in Paris. Sitting on the grass, like I wrote above. When a French guy appeared in front of us. And by appeared in front of us, I mean he suddenly somersaulted/rolled across the ground and stopped in front of where we were sitting. Yes, somersaulted/rolled. He said hello and started speaking to us in English. We had no idea how to respond to this. The guy looked about sixteen and had definitely had a bit more to drink than he should have had. Two of his friends came up after him. Thankfully, they just walked like most people would do. They wanted to talk, but we (not surprisingly) weren't interested.

So, for all of you guys out there, please cross rolling on the ground off your list of ways to get girls' attention. It doesn't work as well as you might hope.

We were amused, but not in a good way.

Most of our adventures turned out well though.

By far, my favorite new site of the trip was going to the Musée Rodin. I had never been there before but wanted to go based on a recommendation. The best recommendation ever.

I got to see this guy.

The Musée Rodin has beautiful gardens. Since it was still warm on the day that we went, we enjoyed all the flowers and the sculptures in the garden. If I lived in Paris, I would have a yearly museum pass to this place so that I could go sit in the gardens whenever I wanted to.

There are so many things to do and see in Paris that it is impossible to do all of them. On this trip we saw the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Musée Rodin, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Champs-Élysées. I left later than the other two girls on Sunday. Lots of museums in Paris have free admission on the first Sunday of each month, so I spent time in the Musée d'Orsay, one of my favorite art museums. Then, I grabbed a crêpe and preceded to eat it while sitting on steps on the bank of the Seine.

If you're wondering what you should do in Paris, here's a list of some of my favorite things to do there.

Also, I have friends I met during my study abroad in Angers who are currently living in Paris.

Can you imagine that? Living in Paris.

I was so happy to get to see these people again. When the school year ended last time, and it was time for me to go home, I wasn't ready to leave. I didn't want the year to be over, and I didn't want to leave the people I had met. It's been three years since we'd seen each other. Too long.

We've all grown up so much in the past few years. It's not something that you notice when you are used to seeing people every day because then you can't see it happening. But a three-year gap makes it more noticeable. They are such amazing people, and I feel proud of what they've accomplished in the past three years.

I know that the people I met in Angers are part of the reason why I missed France so much.

I am so glad that I got a chance to see so many of my favorite people in Paris.

Every time that I go to visit, I love Paris even more. I understand why people feel that way that they do about the city.

Paris is the place that millions of people dream of visiting. To go there once in a lifetime would be more than most people will ever get to do. But, I've been able to visit so many times. I forget some times how incredibly blessed I am, and I have to constantly keep reminding myself.

Before I left to study abroad, I had a meeting with my English advisor. He asked if I had been to France before, and I said I'd only been to Paris. I wasn't expecting his reply. Only Paris. He said if Paris were the only place you ever went that would still be something. And it is true.