13 octobre 2014

The United Gingdom, a guided tour. From the Palace of Wismmister to Wenstre Game.

        I've been working on the British monuments and flags with my kids. The test was at the end of last week, just before the holidays which have just started. The moment of truth, when I get to see what they've remembered from my naturally scintillating lesson.   The British flags have been rebaptized. We now have the Sans Gorge ("no throat" - St George), the Simpatic ("nice" - St Patrick) and the Onion Jack. 10, Downing Street has become 10 Darling Street, 10 Well Street, 10 Dunrens Home or 10,... [Lire la suite]

07 avril 2014

Look at the makis!

      I teach kids in school, but I also teach adults in a training centre about half an hour away. My current groups belong to a local construction society, so we spend hours talking about excavators, compactors, bulldozers, the difference between a Manitou and a Fenwick, where a site manager comes in the company hierarchy and how to work one's way up from pushing soil to wearing a tie and having one's own office. Very interesting, actually. There are groups of trainees in there every day, with lessons ranging... [Lire la suite]
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25 novembre 2013


             I'm working on crime at the moment with my students. In the first lesson, they came up with crime vocabulary in French and looked up the English words in the dictionary. Experience must have spoken because the first words they said were "rape" and "pedophile". What a start. Unfortunately, these are real problems here. They studied "newspaper articles" about hypothetical burglaries at "10, Upping Street, London" and filled in the above "Help Catch A Thief" page describing the guy... [Lire la suite]
07 octobre 2013

Those who can, cook. Those who can't, eat.

         I've been teaching my students about food recently, as you saw in the recent blog post about the European classes. They love learning the English words for their local fruit and vegetables: cassava, breadfruit, chicken wings... they're shouting over each other to get the answers out. Unfortunately, they shout it out in Shimaorese first. When I complain, they shout in French. So I point to the giant "WHAT'S THE ENGLISH FOR...?" sign at the back of the room. Everybody suddenly goes quiet, you can... [Lire la suite]
09 septembre 2013

Scientific Minds

        I've been teaching English to an adult student for about a year and a half now. He's the director of the local branch of an international building and public works company. He has individual lessons twice a week with me, so he's been teaching me all about potholes, soil excavation and the composition of bitumen. Thing is, the other engineers in that company are jealous. Indeed, the director was getting English lessons and they weren't. They all stand the same chance of being transferred to an... [Lire la suite]
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01 avril 2013

It's raining.

                 Tropical rain isn't anything like European rain. It's not cold, for a start, there's none of that freezing drizzle that bites into your skin and makes you huddle inside your anorak. You can go out in the rain here and actually stay under it for as long as you wish, it really isn't cold. The cold comes if there's wind, or if you come into an air-conditioned room once you're soaking wet. Because soaking wet you inevitably become. There aren't stages of rain here, going... [Lire la suite]
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21 février 2013

Things students say...

                I was happily teaching my students all about various states, cities, monuments and cultures of the United States of America. Then I gave them a test... and as usual, I didn't recognize my original lesson at all. I have now learnt that... Per year, Yellowe Stone Park gets 3 333 949 326 visitors. Independence Day is 19776. Children start school in America at the age 1961. The death penalty is 4 Junuary 1 (so I assume they save everybody up in a prison and... [Lire la suite]
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26 novembre 2012

Things pupils say.

                        I love it when... I love it when my pupils can't quite speak properly, but they try anyway. Faced with a picture of a baby learning to walk, they say: "She is learning to go". Brilliant. Sometimes, this turns into rather long-winded explanations because they don't know the exact English word and are determined to manage with the vocabulary they have, for example "the machine where we put the clothes wash and who turn the powder and the water... [Lire la suite]
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22 février 2012

The Motorbike Saga Continues

                I've had fifteen hours of motorbike lessons so far, and have reached the stage where I'm working hard at it and not feeling I'm actually getting anywhere. There's a circuit you have to do for the test at a very slow speed, as you have to drive through "doors" made of traffic cones and sticks without tipping anything over or putting your feet on the ground. As I can't do that yet, the instructor got me trying to learn to accelerate when the... [Lire la suite]
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14 février 2012

Inspector Valentine

I’m being inspected today. Inspections in the French education system aren’t like Ofsted ones: there’s only one inspector at a time, usually, and he or she’s only coming to inspect one particular teacher over one hourly period. The teacher is warned a couple of days in advance, and has to do all sorts of paperwork and preparation to be able to present a full lesson plan and a full sequence plan to the inspector. I’ve got to show mine everything I’ve done since August briefly, and the sequence of lessons I’m doing at the moment in... [Lire la suite]
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