My English Club at Collège is going well. I now have 18 kids coming along and we’ve moved to a classroom which is a little more formal a setting than I’d have really liked, but the blackboard is coming in useful. Well, when I say blackboard, it’s a fold-outable, height adjustable, openable-to-reveal-a-green-board blackboard. Very posh and a far cry from the blackboards of my school days!

My two new members today swore blind that Madame CPE (Conseiller Principal d’Éducation – i.e. Principal Education Advisor, person who keeps the school going) said that if it was OK with me, it was OK with her for them to join. I’m suspicious since this doesn’t sound like Mme CPE at all, or reflective of the French approach to anything which is very formal and restricted, but it’s fine by me. If they want to come, then that’s great!

wenlockTEFL preparation is taking me about three hours for every hour of teaching but I guess I’ll speed up. Plus once I’ve got lessons organised, I can reuse them in the future with or without a little adaptation. I found out during the first session that the kids are very reluctant to speak English so I’m concentrating on oral activities for now. Wenlock comes in handy. Rather than go round the class in a predictable fashion, we throw Wenlock around between us to choose the next person to speak.  

We did a wordsearch today that they enjoyed. It was based on books. They had to find English words and then give the French translation of them which they found quite tricky. This was despite the fact that there’s a lot of correlation between English and French words in this field. There’s a lot in general as I pointed out to them the first week. There are up to 15,000 true and semi cognates between English and French, all due to William Conqueror bringing his culture and language with him along with 7,000 soldiers when he invaded. Don’t believe me about the similarities. Here are the words we used: Cognates – page, fiction; semi-cognates and very similar – author (auteur), illustrator (illustrateur), chapter (chapitre), title (titre), cover (couverture), story (histoire); trickier – word (mot, and lots of kids thought this was world and put ‘monde’), write (écrire, an most kids mistook this for white and so put blanc), bookshop (librairie), ebook (livrel, and none of them had one which was a surprise to me), and paperback (livre de poche).

I’m overcatering with activities for each lesson but that’s better than running out of ideas, although since I have a huge fund of campfire songs at my disposal due to my many happy years as a Brownie, Guide and Ranger we’d never be left twiddling our thumbs. And the library is proving popular. We have so many books I thought I’d provide a selection of them for the children to borrow if they wish. Hopefully I’ll get them back but it’s not too drastic if I don’t. It’s worth the risk.

On the farm front our pregnant animals are steadfastly refusing to give birth and I’m beginning to think that the first piglets will be guinea-piglets. We left the tiny boar, the latest baby, in with the females too long and a couple of them are definitely bulging. Cute photos coming soon I think! The poultry have settled in well and already responding to “chook chook” which is an all-purpose command that they associate with food. It’ll provide the wherewithal to round them up in the future once they start free-ranging.

And it’s still raining…