Category Archives: Teaching English & Other Languages

Free English as a Second Language (ESL) Lesson Plans and Activities

This weekend was the end of les grandes vacances in France because all public school students start the school year on Thursday. I actually love this time year of because it means that France is alive again. It’s not just back to school, but back to work since a lot of stores and businesses close in July and August when most people leave on vacation. I’m looking forward to getting back to regular life this fall even though that means unemployment for me once again.

Even though I don’t exactly have a rentrée of my own this year, I figured it was time to update the ESL Lesson Plans page for those who will be teaching English this fall. Most of the lessons I used as a lectrice were designed as interactive exercises for students to do while using a computer in class. I’ve reformatted some of them so that they can be printed and copied more easily, and will continue to add more lessons as I finally clean out the English folders on my hard drives. My first two years as an assistant I spent a ridiculous amount of time on planning lessons and therefore thinking in English, when I should have been  improving my French everyday. I hope these resources will help future assistants take advantage of their short time in France.

My lectrice job at the university was a 12 month short-term contract, renewable for only one extra year. So as of October 1, I will be unemployed because even though there are vacataire jobs at the university that have been offered to me, you must already have a job in order to be hired, because vacataires are only paid every 6 months. (Yes, sometimes you must have a job in order to get a job in France.) My only option now is to wait to see if there are any open English assistant positions at high schools in the area, but I have to wait until the original assistant assigned to the school has resigned or just doesn’t show up by October 15.

Luckily I still have one more month of paid vacation so I have some time to figure things out. Teaching English is really the only job I can get in France since I’m not an EU citizen and don’t have a degree earned from a French university. In all honesty, I would much rather teach French than English, but that’s not going to happen in France. I’ll probably start a French as a Second Language page so I can upload lessons and materials for French teachers to use, and I’ll work on creating more audio flashcards and exercises to go along with the tutorials.

For more information on the English assistant program in the French public school system, read the Guide for English Language Assistants in France. If you’re interested in working at a university in France, then check out How to Become a Lecteur/Lectrice d’Anglais or Maître de Langue at a French University.

Using Realia Resources in Language Teaching & Learning

Realia resources are everyday, authentic objects, such as photographs, menus, brochures, receipts, maps, movies, television shows, commercials, etc. that are used to teach and learn languages. Some researchers include any items that can be used to prompt conversations or role-play, such as telephones, but those are generally meant to be employed in the classroom with other learners. For self-study, the most helpful realia illustrates how the language is actually used in the country where it is spoken. Visiting the country to experience the language is obviously the best way to learn, but in the absence of the time and money necessary for travel, the internet can provide much of the realia needed.


Online ad showing informal French: Yapamieux = Il n’y a pas mieux

The lack of authentic language in language learning materials was most striking to me upon arriving in France and realizing that what I had learned in my classes was not how people actually spoke. I still recall the dialog in my textbook for buying train tickets, which consisted of a mere 4 lines and completely lacked any cultural clues as to what country it was referring to. Most textbooks default to France and teach a little about the rail system, the SNCF, but they neglect to include the specific names of trains. It is very important to know the difference between the TGV and TER, or what types of trains Lunéa, Téoz and Intercités are, or what the Carte 12-25 or Carte Escapades are used for. And as soon as you cross the border into Switzerland or Belgium, there is a new list of names and acronyms for the rail systems and trains to deal with: CFF, SNCB, ICT, ICN, etc.

Realia Resources for learning languagesProbably need to find out what composter means before getting on the train…

So why didn’t my textbook (or teacher) provide us with an actual train ticket and schedule, or at least a copy of one? Why did I never see a real menu from an actual restaurant while we were learning food vocabulary? I realized it may be a little difficult for North American teachers to have access to these types of realia, which is why I started scanning my old train tickets and receipts. Then I started taking pictures of menus and signs; anything with the written language that I thought would be useful for learners. Currently my realia collection includes French, German, Croatian and Danish, and I will be adding Dutch and Italian in the next few months. Every time I travel, I make sure to gather as much visual realia as possible, as well as website addresses of stores, restaurants, museums, and public transportation companies since many offer downloads of catalogs or menus or schedules.

Authentic Language Realia Resources

You don’t necessarily have to be in the country in order to experience and learn its language. The internet allows you to get very close without leaving your home. I certainly wish I would have been able to look at menus before arriving. I would have known that everyone says cookie instead of biscuit and ice tea instead of thé glacé (the latter being the only words my books ever taught me). And if Youtube had been around when I was in school, I could have watched plenty of videos and listened to spoken, informal French instead of relying on scripted dialogs from a textbook. This is yet another reason why I started the Informal French and Listening Resources pages. Getting as much exposure to the real language as possible is now a priority for me when first learning a language (I learned my lesson with French!) and so I find myself using the internet much more often than any of my books, unless I specifically want to focus on grammar.

 

Do I still speak English?

Maybe it’s a good thing that I don’t plan on teaching English much longer because I have been forgetting my own language. In my vocabulary classes, the students basically work for 90 minutes straight on learning new words and how to use them properly. They have to answer questions and write paragraphs and record themselves talking spontaneously while I listen, read and correct constantly. Except sometimes I don’t remember what we say in English because I’ve gotten so used to my students’ mistakes that I tend to just translate literally from French into English just like them.

Now I have doubts about what people actually say in my native language. When describing a picture, is it normal to start with We can see instead of just saying There is/are? I know French loves to use on all the time, so whenever I hear my students start a sentence with we, I wonder if it’s correct. Like when they say We are five instead of there are five of us when talking about how many people are present in a group. We are five is still awkward in English, right? And how about firstly? Is it normal to say that instead of just first?


Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: mdid

Just this past week, almost everyone began their sentences about household chores with It’s my mother who… or It’s my father who + verb. In English,we’d simply say My mother or father + verb… Are there any cases in English where this weird it’s my [person] who is possible?  I’m thinking this is just a literal translation mistake, but perhaps other native speakers who aren’t losing their language can verify it?

And for British English speakers, is to take a decision really possible? In American English that is so wrong and of course my students want to use the verb take since it’s prendre une décision in French. I think I’ve heard that take a decision is possible in formal British English, but not so common in everyday speech. How about to take breakfast? Once again it’s prendre with meals or food in French, so I think  it’s just a mistake that all of my students make, but with the British English differences, I’m not so sure…

I’d really like to know why every single student says come back at home instead of come home or practice sport instead of play sports when they’ve been learning English for 7 or 8 years already. Do middle and high school classes just not teach proper phrase constructions? Or do students really think they can just translate word for word and it will work perfectly in another language?

I’d say that I’m 50% angry that students constantly make the same mistakes over and over and I have no idea how to make them learn the correct constructions, and 50% angry that they are making me doubt my ability to speak English. I actually said practice a sport the other day and I was so mad at myself for letting their mistakes influence me.

At least when pronunciation is concerned it’s a different story. I may have trouble with grammar sometimes, but I know without a doubt when a word is pronounced wrong. I almost laughed out loud when a student said “I don’t like to sleep in dirty sheets” but she pronounced sheets with the short [ɪ] vowel. I don’t think anyone would like sleeping in that.

Teach a Foreign Language in the Accent of the Listener?

A study from the University of Haifa shows that “perception of second language speech is easier when it is spoken in the accent of the listener and not in the ‘original’ accent of that language.” So if you are an American learning French, you will understand French better if it is spoken with an American accent rather than a native French accent. Sounds a little like common sense, right? The researchers say this is important is determining the cognitive factors associated with understanding and learning foreign languages; but as for teaching foreign languages, I’m not so sure that teaching exclusively in the non-native accent as the title of the article suggests is the best idea.

Perhaps at the very beginning stages of language learning, a non-native accent would be more helpful than a native accent in simply understanding the language. But if a non-native accent is the only one a learner ever hears, then s/he will have a hard time understanding all other accents as well as learning how to pronounce the language in a more native-like accent.  Students should be exposed to several native and non-native accents of the  language because obviously not every French speaker in the world speaks with the standard accent presented in learning materials. How many French language materials teach the Picardie or Belgian or Toulousian accents?

This leads into the native vs. non-native teacher question and just how much effect the teacher’s accent has on the students’ learning.  As long as the student gets enough input in the target language outside of the classroom, it really shouldn’t matter what accent the teacher has. Most classes meet a few hours per week, which is not sufficient enough for learning a language, so the student needs to listen and study as much as possible on his/her own. The teacher needs to be able to answer questions and explain the grammar and encourage student participation and motivation, but to me, the accent isn’t really all that important because shouldn’t the students be talking more than the teacher anyway?

What do you think about this study? Is it important or does it just reiterate what we already know?

English spoken with French accents

Let’s hope no one actually teaches English based on Franglais!

I don’t speak British English, but I (supposedly) teach it.

Maybe part of the reason why I don’t want to continue teaching English in France is because I’m usually expected to teach British English… but I speak American English.  The students’ vocabulary books are British English…. but I speak American English. The recordings for the pronunciation labs are in British English… but I speak American English!!!

The students are confused and I’m annoyed at all the vocabulary and pronunciation differences that they can’t pronounce in either accent anyway. Listening to their oral exams make me feel as though I’m talking to several people, first with a Brit who says little with a /t/ and then all of the sudden, the American personality comes out with car with an obvious /r/. They haven’t quite mastered the concept of sticking to one accent. I wish the students had a choice of which accent they wanted to learn though. I wish I could teach nothing but American English since that is what I know best, obviously. I’m afraid the students will constantly confuse the two and accidentally say fanny to a British person and fag to an American thinking of the more innocent meanings or not even knowing the other meanings.

I suppose it was the same when I was learning French in college. We were always taught standard European French even though I preferred Quebecois French. I had to learn how to understand the accent on my own, which isn’t too hard to do with enough listening practice. But knowing more of the common vocabulary differences would have been helpful before I studied at Laval. Luckily I never made the mistake of saying gosses while I was in Quebec, so that’s something at least.

Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching by Jeff Stanford

Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching by Jeff Stanford is the latest instructional book on Moodle, the popular Course Management System (CMS) for creating educational websites and communities, to be published by Packt Publishing. It is not written for true beginners who have no experience with Moodle, as it does not explain how to install it, but it is a “how-to” book for teachers who are at least familiar with the basics of Moodle and who are looking for specific ideas on activities to create for their language classes.

The first two chapters explain why Moodle is a great resource for language teaching and the basics of the CMS. The following chapters provide, in detail, explanations on how to create activities for all language skills: vocabulary, grammar, reading, writing, speaking and listening. In fact, chapter 8 Listening Activities [PDF – 1.3 MB] is available as a free download so that you can see Stanford’s directions and screenshots of listening activities using a wide range of web 2.0 tools, such as Inwicast media player and the NanoGong recorder.

Several sample activities are provided for each skill within the framework of Communicative Language Teaching, using English as a Second Language as the target language. Obviously, these activities can be modified to use any language, and most of the recommended websites for finding materials such as sound effects or public domain images are language independent.  Additionally, Stanford includes external programs that can be used with Moodle, such as Hot Potatoes for different types of quizzes, Audacity for audio  resources, and Jing and Picasa for image capturing and editing to enhance the activities.

Chapters 9 & 10 offer assessment information and extended activities that go beyond Moodle (such as Webquests).  Technically, that is where the book ends, after 494 pages. But Packt Publishing has already made available 2 more chapters, for free, on their website. Chapter 11 [PDF – 3.7 MB] explains how to improve navigation and materials, and chapter 12 [PDF -2.5 MB] explains how to help students get accustomed to using Moodle.

Personally, I do not have the chance to use Moodle in my language classes (not yet, at least) as we are only working with HTML and Hot Potatoes. But I have used the majority of the online resources Stanford mentions and found them all to be extremely helpful in designing and writing course materials. It is also possible to use a demo version of Moodle online or download a portable version that works directly from your Windows desktop. They are both free and allow you to test out the functions and get used to the Moodle interface before you actually install the CMS on your server.

As a strong supporter of Internet-based and Computer-assisted language learning, I love the idea behind Moodle’s community approach to online learning, whether it’s pure distance learning or blended courses that include some face-to-face contact. I believe that autonomous learning is a large part of language learning because humans do not all learn in the exact same way and they certainly don’t learn best by sitting in a classroom. I wish the internet had been more advanced when I was first learning French so that I would have had access to so many valuable audio-visual resources. If I could have taken an online French course instead of sitting through 4 nerve-wracking hours each week on campus, I’m sure I would have learned much faster.  Moodle allows language learning in a significantly less stressful environment, where everyone has the opportunity to participate and can work at his or her own pace. Its overall intent is communication and collaboration among people not limited by geographic, or even linguistic, boundaries – and isn’t that precisely why we learn languages?

Other Moodle books from Packt can be found here and all are available as PDF eBooks for immediate download.

Emphasizing Oral Skills in Language Education

For once I agree with Sarkozy on something. He recently announced an “emergency” plan for changing the way languages are taught in France. He recognizes that the French system currently emphasizes too much grammar and memorization when basic communication skills such as listening and speaking should be the focus of language education. Even though most French students learn two foreign languages from the 6th grade on, by the time they finish high school, they still cannot actually speak the language. Another recent report indicates that 41% of adults in France report speaking no foreign languages, which ranks France as the 6th worst country for adults speaking another language (behind Greece, Bulgaria, Spain, Portugal, and Hungary, which reports a whopping 78% of adults who only speak Hungarian).

After observing and “assisting” two years of middle & high school English classes in France, I can definitely say the teachers did not care so much for teaching listening skills or even exposing the students to authentic language which is absolutely necessary to improve pronunciation and spoken fluency. Of course, with 30-36 students in each class that only meets a few hours a week, it’s a nearly impossible to have every student practice talking. But that’s what homework is for. This leads into questions of motivation and autonomous learning, which are often very different for each student – especially French students who must take two foreign languages even if they don’t want to.

Some schools have been experimenting with using more audio resources for teaching English. I came across some reportages on using mp3 players outside of class to listen to an audio file in English and then the student records his or her reaction to it, or tries to write down the transcription, or answers comprehension questions, etc. The schools provide the mp3 players (since not all teenagers have one already), and this way more expensive language labs or even computers are not actually necessary.

Since my university most likely won’t spend money on mp3 players (because they won’t spend money on new computers…), I prefer to have my classes in the one computer room we have on campus even though the computers are from the late 90’s and we’re stuck using the 60-second-maximum Windows recorder. I’ve been asking for administrator privileges so I can install Audacity, but no luck so far. In my special English class for exchange students, I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time preparing interactive lessons using audio and video files so that the students can listen to English as much as possible. Our program does include many language labs that are audio-based as well, but the lecture courses remain writing and grammar-based and the grades for these lecture courses count more than for the labs, which seems a bit backwards to me.

But should all students be forced to learn English? My university doesn’t even offer a degree in a single foreign language. Students must learn English and another language. It’s English/Spanish, English/Italian or English/German and nothing else. Sarkozy was mostly referring to English when he announced the new plan because of its status as a global language vital to international business and also because he’s still upset about France’s ranking of 69 out of 109 on the TOEFL test. But some French people would prefer to learn other languages in order get jobs, such as German. The region of Alsace has launched a new campaign to get people interested in learning German because there are several jobs in the area that go unfilled because they cannot find enough French-German bilinguals to hire.  (The official site is here.)  German is actually the most widely-spoken language in Europe. There are 100 million people (or about 1 out of every 5 people in the EU) who speak it as their native language as compared to around 75 million for English.

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 voice of Gibbs is also the voice of Bones’ dad! (Are there really not enough voice actors in France for all the shows?)

It is much, much cheaper to subtitle than to dub, it helps people learn foreign languages, and it keeps the original work closer to its intended form. So why do countries insist on spending extra money on dubbing? To create a few more voice acting jobs? Because the general population doesn’t like to read? I would really like to know the reasons because it makes no sense to me.

The last time I went to the movies, five out of six of them were American and dubbed into French. It got me thinking about growing up in a country where most of the entertainment is from a different country (usually America), and having to watch everything dubbed. Would it annoy me? Would I just get used to it? I have never watched a foreign movie dubbed into English so I don’t know what it’s like to hear your native language, but know that everything about the movie is completely foreign and different. What do the French think about American high school movies? Don’t they find it weird when the characters talk about things that don’t even exist in France, like cheerleaders or Prom? I know these words translate into French (pom-pom girl and bal de la fin de l’année) but do the French really know what they are? Or why they’re so prevalent in American culture and entertainment?

Another thing I don’t understand is when people say that a certain actor is their favorite actor ever, and yet they have never heard his real voice. The voice is so important!! Even the body language can’t be conveyed or interpreted the same since that’s highly dependent on culture. Are they simply referring to his physical look or perhaps to the French voice? (A lot of the really famous American actors have the same French voice actor for all of their movies so they can be more recognizable.)

Of course, the main reason I prefer subtitles is for their effect on listening comprehension in other languages. Scandinavian and Dutch learners of English always outperform French, German, Spanish and Italian learners of English. Hmm, I wonder why? Last year only about 5-10% of my students said they ever watched movies in English, and it certainly showed in their listening and speaking abilities.

Countries in red do dubbing, those in blue do subtitles (with some dubbing for childrens’ programs).

I know I’m a bit biased being a language teacher/linguist who highly values listening comprehension in order to learn proper pronunciation and who views audio-visual input such as television and films as major language learning tools that everyone should utilize. Unfortunately, I also know there are some people out there who don’t actually want to/refuse to learn another language or culture.  I’d like to think even if I weren’t so passionate about foreign languages, I would still prefer subtitles to dubbing for the simple reason that it doesn’t destroy the authenticity. It’s just a few words at the bottom of the screen.

Thoughts on: Trip, Apartment, and Conference

Trip: Of course my trip was amazing. We saw so many places and I took far too many photos. The weather was mostly hot and sunny and we didn’t have any major traveling problems. I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of all the wonderful sites France has to offer, and I’m dying to see more of this country. Spending time with Michelle & Jason was a blessing as well. I’m glad they got to see three regions of France and hope they come back someday.  Meeting up with David in Montpellier was a nice treat, as I obviously don’t like being apart from him. I won’t have time to get all of the photos on my website until after my Istanbul trip to visit Martha, for which I leave at 7 AM tomorrow morning!

Going back to Italy after 10 years was long overdue considering how close it is. Chambery to Milan is only 4 hours by train, and it should be shorter than that within a year when the high-speed track between Turin and Milan is finished. I still can’t understand much of Italian, but I was able to remember the basic words and phrases to buy things, like gelato and more gelato.

The Côte d’Azur was full of beaches and tourists, which I expected. I’m glad I finally went there, but I don’t think I’d like to live there. Monaco and Cannes were very crowded because of the Grand Prix and Film Festival, but Antibes was much quieter. Provence was lovely, as usual, and very very hot. But I love the heat, so it didn’t bother me. Especially because we were staying at a rather nice hotel just outside of Aix-en-Provence (Kyriad Mas des Oliviers) that had air-conditioning, unlike our “hotel” that was really a hostel in Nice.

Languedoc didn’t seem as hot, but maybe it was just the wind, which was strong almost everywhere! There were a few times I had trouble walking because of it. Montpellier was incredibly nice, just as I had imagined, and I really liked Nîmes too. Pont du Gard was impressive, Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer was cute, and La Grande Motte was a bit strange because of the architecture that I have never before seen in France. I loved walking through the cité médiévale in Carcassonne – I just wish it hadn’t been so cold so we could have stayed and enjoyed it more.

The only thing I didn’t like was the car we rented. It was a Citroën C3 Sensodrive that can be driven as an automatic or manual. Except the automatic mode was scary to me because I’m not used to the car rolling backwards when I’m stopped, or the car turning off when I’m stopped (Eco function), or the fact that shifting into reverse did not work sometimes! What are you supposed to do when you’re stopped on a hill and need to back up so you don’t hit a parked car in front of you, but reverse doesn’t work???

Apartment: Even though I left from our apartment in Annecy in May, I came back to the new apartment in Chambéry with Jason. We’ve tried to put things away as much as possible, but there is still a serious lack of storage/shelves/drawers in the kitchen. It almost feels like home to me though, if only David and Canaille were here and we had all the furniture we needed. Being able to walk downtown within 10 minutes is convenient, and I can run most of my errands without needing a car. Living in the city has its advantages, I must admit, but one day I’d like to be back out in the countryside.

We’ve only got one bedroom, but the living room is large, and the entire apartment has been repainted. We’re currently having a problem with the water heater (auto doesn’t work), so I have to turn it to on at night and off in the morning. There are two balconies, one on each side of the building, that look out onto the main road and the parking lot behind it. We have a nice cross breeze through the living room and kitchen if we open both balcony doors. I figured out where the cave was, and it is quite possibly the creepiest, most dungeon-like storage space I’ve ever seen. We still don’t have the keys to the garage we rented for my car, because the agency can’t get a hold of the landlord, who initially gave them the wrong keys or something, so my car is parked on the road for now.

Here’s the view of the Alps from the kitchen balcony:

The only thing I’m worried about is Canaille falling or jumping off the balconies. We’re only on the 2nd floor (3rd floor American), but I’m afraid he’d seriously hurt himself if he did fall. And there is a nest of birds in the tree right next to the front balcony. I’m hoping that since he is a such a scaredy-cat, he won’t actually step foot on the balconies, but we’ll see what happens next weekend when we bring him home.

Conference: The previous 3 days I worked at an International English Pronunciation Conference at my university, and got to sit it on many presentations since I was the tech person in charge of computers. It was exhausting, but fun and interesting. I was Miss Powerpoint the first day, making sure all of the presentations worked properly, which many didn’t… Then I had to be a subsitute chair for a presentation while also being the tech person, which of course was the ONE time there was a problem with the computer.

I had missed being in an academic setting, with professors and researchers talking about things that I am interested in (linguistics, phonetics, technology, etc.) I am still thinking about doing my PhD in France, but I have no clue where or in what subject. I just can’t imagine narrowing down my interests to one topic and researching it for 3 years. I want to learn everything about everything!

And I loved the three plenary speakers! John Wells talked about the polling carried out for the new edition of the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, and he also gave a presentation on using intonation to change meaning in English. (Also check out his Phonetics blog.) Helen Fraser spoke on Cognitive Phonology and its implications for teaching pronunciation, which I had never really thought about before.  Yvan Rose introduced the Phon software and PhonBank database and explained how they can benefit research on second language acquisition of phonology.

I also discovered a book edited by Marie-Jo Derive, who works at my university, that will be extremely useful to learners of French. It’s called Mots étranges pour des étrangers and it’s a corpus of idiomatic and slang expressions that foreign students learning French at the university had to learn the hard way (i.e. not understanding because no book ever taught them, and having to ask a native speaker to explain the meanings). Here’s the summary from the publisher’s site:

Il s’agit d’un recueil de mots étranges compilés par des apprenants de français. Tout le monde sait que, même lorsqu’on a atteint un haut degré de compétence, le plus difficile à maîtriser d’une langue est sa chair idiomatique nourrie de ces mille et une expressions intraduisibles et souvent éphémères de la communication parlée. L’apprenant ne les trouve que rarement dans les manuels et cet apprentissage doit se faire “sur le tas”. C’est cette pratique “de terrain” dont le volume se fait l’écho à partir de l’expérience de plus de cent étudiants étrangers sur six années consécutives. Plus qu’un simple dictionnaire, qui de toute façon est très vite caduc, l’idiomatique étant aussi changeant que la mode, il s’agit d’un témoignage qui, grâce aux commentaires des intéressés sur la façon dont ils ont entrevu le sens de l’expression en contexte, éclaire sur les processus de l’apprentissage en milieu naturel. Ainsi le livre sera utile aussi bien à l’étudiant étranger – non seulement comme source de référence, mais comme incitation à l’acquisition active du lexique – qu’à l’enseignant de FLE, en France et surtout hors de France. Il intéressera également le lexicologue qui y trouvera un portrait sur le vif du lexique des étudiants.

Semester is over and vacation is here. But why am I still so stressed?

I finished my last class of the semester on Monday and I am now on vacation. Technically I don’t work my regular contract hours again until mid-September when the next school year begins. Though I am working extra hours in June at a conference and proctoring the make-up exams for the other English lectrice who is returning to the US tomorrow. So I should be relaxed and happy and carefree and all of those other wonderful emotions that people feel when on vacation, but I am not.

I suppose it’s just the long “to do” list, to which I endlessly add things, but never accomplish. You would think having all the time in the world to run errands means that those errands will get done, but that is not true. Most of them involve making appointments, which I am too lazy to do, and/or spending money, which I do not want to do. So the only things I accomplished today were mopping the floor and making zucchini bread. But I WILL go to the préfecture on Thursday morning to get my new carte de séjour (they’re closed on Wednesdays, of course).

Plus I am still baby-sitting and doing private lessons this week, so I can’t really say that I’m not working because watching two young boys and teaching English one-on-one is hard work. Those will be finished by the end of this week, and David finishes his current job on Thursday, so we can finally focus on the apartment search this weekend. I’m really hoping we can find a place on the ground or first floor (so Canaille won’t die if he falls from the window/balcony…) that is within walking distance to the university and also David’s job downtown, but we’ll see. I haven’t been impressed so far with any annonces I’ve seen online.

In the meantime, I’m trying to catch up on responding to e-mails. I’ve only got 67 left. If you’ve sent me an e-mail or private message in the past 2 months, I most likely have received it and you will get a response within another, um, 2 months?