My rentrée is almost here

Tomorrow I will finally start classes again! We are just doing placement tests so we can divide the groups by level, but it’s still work, especially since we’re using our lovely computer lab with Windows 2000 and so far 3 out of 18 of the computers are already dead. New computers will be installed, but not before the rentrée 2010 – when I will no longer be a lectrice there – so the computer techs will not help us at all this year if we have problems with the computers or server. I am going to have to croiser my doigts all year that our 15 remaining computers make it until April!

My schedule is done, I think. I’ll have class 16.5 hours a week (7 are labs, 7.5 are vocabulary class, and 2 are a special class for the Italian exchange students). So I will have to do some preparation this year (for the Italian students) and a lot more correcting of recordings since I have 5 vocab classes instead of the normal 3 or 4. But I’m excited. I felt so lazy this summer for not doing much, and I would always rather be too busy than too bored.

I keep thinking about next fall and what type of job I can get. I don’t mind teaching English, but I still feel like it’s preventing me from perfecting my French. And I would still prefer to teach French to Anglophones… Not that that will ever happen while I’m living in France, but at least I can try to teach people through my website. As a technology nerd, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on autonomous technology-assisted language learning. I definitely believe the bulk of language acquisition takes place outside of the classroom, when and where the students feel most comfortable and motivated and where they can be exposed to a variety of input. That’s not to say that the teacher or classroom are unnecessary in language learning though. Both are required for interaction, correction, feedback and to provide the tools for further study. But students need to take the initiative to study on their own, outside of the measly few hours they spend in class each week.

On a slightly different topic, I don’t really feel qualified to teach French even if I could. My Master’s is in Linguistics, and my Bachelor’s is in French & Linguistics, which I specifically chose because I love linguistics a million times more than literature. Yet most universities focus their language programs on literature, so even if I did become a French professor someday, I wouldn’t want to teach those classes. I wouldn’t mind teaching culture, film, music, etc. but literature? No thanks. I guess I just always prefer the spoken language. I’ve been looking at university sites to see what’s required for degrees in French nowadays, and also to see what textbooks they use, and I came across Hong Kong’s impressive course websites and resources. Sometimes I wonder how people learned languages before the internet!

But getting back to teaching English and my future job in France, I can’t decide what would be better: continue teaching English or just be a student in French. I’d love to start my PhD soon, but I want to improve my written French first. However, can we afford to live on only one salary for a while? Do I want to try to juggle teaching English with improving my French and/or starting my PhD? Maybe something else completely unrelated to teaching will come up and I’ll be able to improve my French while earning money so I won’t have to worry about it. My goal is to get French citizenship (I can apply in 2 years) and a career that allows me to use languages, whether or not it’s teaching, so perfecting my French is going to have to be a priority.  In the meantime, I just want to discover the best way to teach French through the internet.

Colloquial French Grammar

I just finished reading Colloquial French Grammar by Rodney Ball, which I highly recommend to those who want to learn the “rules” of everyday spoken French. You do have to have some knowledge of French because sometimes there are no translations given, and a linguistics background would be helpful to understand all of the grammatical […]

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Hot Potatoes and Audio Flashcards

As of September 1, 2009, Hot Potatoes (and Quandary) became freeware software. Anyone can download and use the flashcard and exercise authoring programs, whether or not you’re affiliated with a university or upload your work to the web. I use HP for work and for my website. I’ve made several flash cards and quizzes for French, […]

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Foire de Savoie

Last night David & I went to the Foire de Savoie, mostly because one of their main exhibits was Tahiti et ses îles and I’m still really interested in seeing French Polynesia one day. Everyone was dressed in traditional Polynesian outfits and they were selling flowers, oils, jewelry, clothes and vacations to Tahiti. They even […]

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Hazardous Effects of Dubbing

Ok, maybe not hazardous, but the effects sure are annoying. France dubs almost all foreign TV shows and movies into French instead of leaving the original spoken language and adding subtitles. I absolutely hate it because the lips don’t match the words, the voices don’t match the actors, and it’s really distracting when the French […]

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La Maison de Jean-Jacques Rousseau dans les Charmettes

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, of Social Contract fame, lived in a house in the Charmettes, just outside of Chambéry, from 1735-1742. He kept a garden and vineyard there while he spent the rest of his time writing. It is open to the public for free and there is also a temporary exposition until December 31 titled “Je […]

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Zee French Appartement

Even though we moved into this apartment back in May, we are still not finished acquiring all the furniture we want/need. The last piece of the puzzle is a clic-clac for the living room. We do have a small couch, but it’s too uncomfortable and impossible to sleep on.  We were supposed to receive the […]

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Ready for my Rentrée

School starts in 11 days and I’m so excited! I love my job and being on vacation for nearly 5 months was getting a little old. I can’t wait to get back in the computer room and audio labs and play with the technology teach students English. Everything will be so much easier this year […]

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Is your French better than a reality show contestant’s?

Meet Vanessa. She’s on a reality show in France called Secret Story. If the fact that she’s on a reality show doesn’t already tell you she’s a moron, her 53 grammar mistakes in 27 seconds will. (Ok, she didn’t make quite that many mistakes, but come on! I speak French better than her!!)

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New friend, French wedding and football match

I met up with the lovely Cynthia on Friday and chatted with her for a few hours about being an American expat in Chambéry. It’s always nice to talk to someone who is going through the exact same thing and has the same thoughts about our old and new countries. Check out her blog for […]

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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