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This was my first actual week of teaching. It varied from students who could explain the subtext of a quotation to those who couldn't even ask about the words they didn't understand. I find the differences challenging, but am excited to have the opportunity to work with different types of students.

As is the American way, we start with an icebreaker. You know 'em, you love 'em. I never thought I would force people into playing these games, but they work, they are easy, and they are in English.

But since we can't play games all class long, I made them all worksheets about American "stuff." The worksheets have a variety of things on them. There is, of course, the day and date. This is followed by a random holiday. For example, today is World Egg Day. We also discussed more regular days, like Columbus day, but it is still exciting to talk about the weird ones. Also, it is amusing for them, and amusment = interest. I can't get them talking without it.

After those things are fun facts (ex. Forest fires move faster uphill than downhill or there are 13,092 pieces of cutlery in the White House, etc.). A section on American history is on every sheet. I take paragraphs from either the History Channel webpage or from the Library of Congress page. Today we learned about how Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier, yesterday we learned about the construction of the White House. I vary the materials included based on the actual date. We only study things that happend on this date sometime in the past. I'm sure they don't care all that much about the random history, but it is important to at least expose them to names like John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Helen Keller, Richard Nixon, etc. If they aren't mentioned in the paragraph on history, there is also a "Quotable Quote" section, which is very cool, if I do say so, because it is in a speech bubble.

Every class has a different challenge. Something to find on a map or to look for on the internet. Also, I am sure to include a link to an appropriate page where they are sure to be able to find the answer to the challenge or something that has to do with the history section. Anyone who knows of some good websites (think young middle school level) please feel free to send them my way!

We wrap up the worksheet with a comic strip (feel free to send these too!) and a description of the week. This week is National School Lunch Week. So, we got to talk about the differences between school lunch here (they can go home if they want, or to a cafe) and in the USA. If ever I run out of celebratory weeks, I can always switch to months, because it seems like we have an innumerable amount of uncelebrated daily, weekly, and monthly holidays in America! Just do a search on th web .... I can give you the link I use if you want it .... you are bound to find out about things you never knew! My favorite one so far was this past Wednesday. There were two special holidays 1. International Moment of Frustration Scream Day and 2. National Bring your Teddy Bear to School or Work Day. I almost brought Mr. Bear. I really did. But I figured since it was still the first week, I should probably not do anything too ridiculous right off the bat - I am representing all of America when I do those things!

So that is the basic outline of what we do. Then we do an exercise with a prepared text, a book excerpt, song lyrics, articles from the internet, magazines, newspapers, etc. I think it is pretty exciting. If we finish early, they get to just sit around and chat with each other in English. That is the best part for me, because I really get a chance to know them. Next week I have a better idea of what types of things they are really going to want to talk about. They'll still have their worksheets, but I can bring different exercises.

Some of my classes are all girls, they love shopping, music, movies, dancing. I have one section of Sportifs which I am sure you can guess are the jocks. These boys (yes, all boys) mostly want to be professional athletes or PE Teachers and have to take English to pass the Bac (a really hard test at the end of high school that makes the SAT look like something you might have taken in middle school). Most of the groups are Euro-option, which means they really like their language classes. I do however, have one group whose 1st language (after french) is german. They really don't like my class. Not my class in particular, but English really isn't their thing. Here, if you are in the humanities, especially euro-option, you have to take a minimum of two foreign languages. They call the one you study the most your 1st language and the other your 2nd. Really, these are their second and third languages though, so it is pretty amazing how good they are.

School here doesn't have much in common with the US, but I am enjoying discovering the differences. I hope you are too (via me of course!). Love always, ~Heather


Check out my site:

i noticed that we have a lot in common on "this day in history" kind of stuff we are interested in. Every weekday I update my site, and I talked about things you talked about the last two days. Anyway, this might be of interest.

Have a good day, I like the site :-)
Marco said…
Allright. Some things never your wandering mind and getting off topic to get in some interesting site-note ;)

However, if you guys have as much trouble using the internet, why do you make them jump through hoops and do some research online every day?