Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lessons Learned?

The kids have been showing up regularly the past two weeks -- wahoo! Though it is only Tuesday...I have faith they'll be good from now on. There have been stragglers and no-shows, but not entire groups like before: me sitting in an empty room wondering why I got out of bed that morning to come sit in an empty room for three hours. Progress!

At the middle school, I'm in the classroom with the teacher, so that is virtually no problem. I've had to prepare more for these lessons, simplifying mostly, and switching topics every ten minutes (as opposed to every fifteen) for the lower level of the students. Teaching, it occurs to me, is sort of like trying to hit the sweet spot between what the students actually know and the magical test-level knowledge they are expected to acquire. It's like one of those crazy Venn diagrams used by stock traders.

I haven't been preparing much at the high school, since I only see each group once every four weeks. In fact, I've only done two lessons so far: the Introduction and Stereotypes. Interspersed with those, I've done itty bitty grammar lessons, like the use of adverbs (always, often, sometimes, rarely, never) showing habitual action, and past tense (and goodness, they could use the practice). I generally ask them how their weekend was.

This is all A2 level, so nothing ridiculously hard. Unfortunately, I'm finding myself using A LOT more French in class here than I used German in class while I was in Austria. Technically, we're supposed to be doing immersion with them, but if I'm talking slowly (like a snail) and repeating myself three or four times, I'm sorry--switching over! It's not like I can get in trouble. I have the kids in small groups, so there's no teacher, and who's going to rat me out? The kids? HA! I can't get fired anyway, so it's a moot point. I can basically do whatever I like, and what I like is to help them. It's really only a word here or there that I translate, either from a word I've already said in English, or a word they're searching for. If they ask me and not their friend, all the better. Because you know they'll chatter away with the friend about something completely unrelated, but I'll steer the topic back.

The one thing that has made me reconsider using French in the classroom at all is the other day when we did stereotypes. It was a group I'd already had (stereotypes is my lesson #2 in the arsenal) and we were talking about baguettes versus "American" bread, i.e. sliced bread. I tried to explain it six differed ways, but they didn't get it. "What don't you get?" I asked.

"Slice. What is 'slice'?"

"Slice is tranche in English."



Ensue torrent of giggles. Apparently I pronounced it wrong.

May I, in my defense, state that I have a cold? Nevertheless, I think their punishment will be TOTAL immersion from now on.

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