What I do

I realized I hadn’t posted about the assistantship in a long time, so here’s a summary of what I’ve been doing at work lately:

On Tuesdays, I have all secondes (10th grade), so I try to focus on vocabulary and pronunciation. We’ve done geography of the US, describing people, and American high schools in the past few weeks. I make sure each student speaks, even if it is just a few sentences. But seeing as how I have either half or a third of the class each week, I get bored easily since I do the same lesson hour after hour and week after week. But at least now they know that the US is huge compared to France (yes, Texas really is bigger than France), Anglophones are not going to understand them when they say “I’m wearing baskets” (des baskets are sneakers), and that sports really are more important than education for some Americans.

On Thursdays, I work at a middle school and sometimes with the SEGPA classes. SEGPA students are supposed to have memory/behavior/social problems, but I rarely see a difference between them and the “regular” students. To me, they’re all just hyper pre-teens who don’t want to be at school. A part of me wonders if labeling kids as “at-risk” does them any good at all. Some kids may think that they will be considered that way for their entire lives, so why not live up to the stereotype? Be loud and disrespectful, don’t even attempt your work, try not to learn anything because you have no chance of going to a regular high school anyway. You’ll only be able to go to a professional high school, which are also stigmatized as being for under-achieving students. It just doesn’t seem very fair to the kids, because really, don’t all kids have some sort of memory/behavior/social problems? It’s called growing up.

Lastly, on Fridays, I work with première (11th grade) and terminale (12th grade) students. These students have to take an oral exam at the end of the year in which they will be given a document (painting, political cartoon, ad, poem, etc.) that they have never seen before, and talk about it for 10 minutes. They only have 10 minutes to prepare their speech. Obviously students need to practice preparing and speaking or they are never going to pass their exam, but that doesn’t mean they will actually try this in class… Even when I give them an exact sentence that they can use in their speech – The document I’m going to talk to you about is a political cartoon entitled “The Blame Game” – they still will not actually say it out loud in English. ::sigh:: I just don’t know what to do with them. To be fair, I think the exam is stupid and pointless because they are never going to have to explain a political cartoon in English in everyday life, but they knew that they were going to have to do this exam before they signed up to take English!

This past week, there was a national strike on Thursday, somewhat as a follow-up to the strike back in November. It wasn’t very suivi though, so I did have to work. I only had between 3 and 5 students in my classes, which was nice because that gave each one the opportunity to practice speaking without 15 other students interrupting them. Apparently when there’s a strike, absences aren’t counted, so a lot of students decide to skip out for the day.

My schedule is supposed to change after February 8, one week before the winter vacation. I’m hoping to no longer have to work 8 am to 6 pm every Tuesday because it wipes me out. I go to bed as soon as I get home, and don’t really do much on Wednesdays. I don’t know how teachers who live an hour away can work 10 hours a day the entire week and not be walking zombies. I can barely survive one day of it.

So I have 3 weeks left before vacation, and 6 weeks left of work after that. Ça passe vite !

Waiting and planning and waiting

We may be staying in Annecy a little while longer than planned. I had my heart set on Lyon if we were to stay in France since finding a job there would be easier, but we don’t really have a choice. I’m a little sad about not being able to move to Quebec sooner, but […]

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Day 3 of driving in France

I love my little car because it’s so little. I’m going to build up some muscles because there’s no power steering and it’s hard to turn that wheel to get out of a parking space. There’s no radio either, but I honestly don’t mind that. Driving isn’t too stressful since I learned all the road […]

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I bought something today.

AN AUTOMATIC CAR!!! It’s a Renault Super 5 with only 70,000 KM on it. It’s an ’86, but it’s in great condition and oh so clean! We had to go to Chalon-sur-Saône (200 km north of here) to buy it, but it was so worth it!!! I didn’t mention finding this car online before because […]

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Work and Holiday Visas

For those who cannot afford to study abroad or who cannot do a teaching assistantship in Europe because they don’t have foreign language skills: Travel and/or work in Anglophone countries: Work and Holiday Visas are a way to travel to a country for more than 3 months, and possibly work (legally!) to help fund your […]

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This amuses me to no end.

The other night on TF1, the news mentioned Mike Huckabee’s win at the Iowa caucus. But they didn’t talk about his political positions or anything relevant to the election… no, no, they talked about how his home-state of Arkansas is one of ten states in the US that bans the sale of alcohol. Except alcohol […]

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To do list for deux mille huit

I’m not going to use that R word, but here’s what I want to do in 2008: Read the bazillion books on my (full) bookcase – two finished already! Devote more time to studying languages – back to Pimsleur & podcasts… Immerse myself in French culture a lot more than I have been… Gain some […]

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Provence et New York ?

J’ai fini de lire A Year in Provence de Peter Mayle et Une Française à New York de Laurence Haïm. Je ne sais pas pourquoi je n’ai jamais lu le premier, vu qu’il est sorti en 1989. Presque tous les anglophones qui se sont installés en France, ou qui veulent y s’installer, lisent ce livre […]

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Le retour de la neige au Michigan

A few days after we return to France, Michigan gets lots of snow again: C’EST PAS JUSTE !!! IT’S NOT FAIR!!!! This one has nothing to do with snow; I just thought it was really cute. Brandy & Shadow were taking a nap together before Christmas. I really miss dogs.

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Christmas in Michigan

Christmastime Emotions Happy. I honestly do not like Christmas in France, so going back to the US this year was wonderful. I need decorations everywhere and 6 foot trees and Christmas carols playing 24/7 on the radio. I have to watch the Grinch and Charlie Brown and even Rudolph with those creepy dolls that surprisingly […]

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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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