Bonne année ( h a p p y n e w y e a r) !
I thought I would sit down for a rather lengthy blog post, as those have been lacking and a catch up is always good to read back-on for memories.
Let’s start with my littles, the students ! I work at two different schools: both in the immigration zone; meaning both of my schools are out of the city center, in a poorer district, with a high percentage of non French-natives. This similarities of tweaking the teaching style is very similar to what one would do in the United States working in a poorer/inner city district. One of my schools even has a French As a Second Language classroom. I teach in this class and told them ESL is very common in the U.S., where most of those students know Spanish as a first language. Most students in FSL have the first language of Arab (some exceptions such as Spanish or Portuguese).
M O N D A Y / 1 class: 9-10 years old (although this is split up between English, Spanish, German…at the same time) let’s just say…woof
T U E S D A Y / 5 classes: 6-11 years old
W E D N E S D A Y / 2 classes: 7-8 years old
T H U R S D A Y / 5 classes: 3-11 years old. I work at a maternelle school (preschool) in the morning, then another school in the afternoon with the older kids.
F R I D A Y / 2 classes: 7-11 years old
each of these classes are different / only see my students once a week !
Working with huge age gaps between 3-11 years old, my classes are very sporadic and different from one another. With the expectation of 8-11 years old, I am not teaching writing, reading or spelling. This indefinitely is a challenge for me coming up with 45 mins of lesson activity on the same five words, when students are not doing independent practice with writing or reading (what I would do in the U.S. when teaching French). So let’s just say I have come up with a lot of fun games to play with flashcards, that doesn’t make my students a bunch of parrots with just repeating word pronunciation.
It’s hard for me to break down the next explanation without going off on a tangent or sounding like a huge bag of negativity, so sorry in advance. But, when I was in the U.S. I always flaunted Europe’s method of foreign language; it’s very important for young learners to learn a foreign language. So how great is it that France has foreign language as early as preschool now? Well there’s good and bad to that. The bad has to do with my job title. Technically speaking I am an English Assistant, where I just assist the French teacher teaching English with pronunciation or authentic material. But, that isn’t the case for 90% of my classes. I am the only teacher teaching English to the students; so my classes are not learning English when I am not there with their teacher, meaning these students are only learning English 30-45 minutes a week. And yes, I am creating the material and lessons and not actually just an assistant. So although I have 15 different classes varying in ages, most of the time I am teaching the same subject to my 6 years old as I am to my 11 years old. This is very frustrating because language levels are very inconsistent. At the same school, one class of 7-8 years old are well on track, but the other class of 7-8 years old struggle with asking my name. Or at the same school, the 7 years old are more advanced than the 11 years old. So I suppose at the end of the explanation, I just want to say yes its great France has implemented foreign languages so young, but it is very inconsistent with not a lot of foundation.
The other huge different between French schools and the U.S. is the schedule. My teacher friends are going to chuckle:
9-4 is the school day / with a 20-30 min recess in the morning, 2 hours for lunch, and another 20ish min recess in the afternoon.
TWO HOURS, TWO HOURS FOR LUNCH, I honestly don’t know what to do with myself in this time. I can eat my PB sandwich in 15 minutes and be ready to go. So in France, lunch is the biggest meal and most of the students go home during this two hours, but in my opinion it’s wasted time. Maybe I should eat more than PB.
Hopefully if you were curious as to what I do here, it gave some intel! Tata for now 🙂