Posts Tagged ‘w*rk’

conditional sentences

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

In class yesterday we were learning about conditional sentences. So I gave them a sentence to finish , using “will” or “would” as appropriate.

From a young person who really struggles in school:

If I work hard….I will explode.

From another, obviously fed up of the few who disturb the many:

If I had superpowers…I would zip the mouths of certain people. (And I’d pay you to do it!!!)

Bits ‘n’ Bobs

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

I’m starting a new ESL class tomorrow. In a bid to find some interesting ice breakers I searched t’internet and have found a couple I look forward to trying out. One of them might well be fun – put the students into pairs. Give one 2 minutes to communicate as much information about themselves as possible to their partner – without speaking. Then the partner must introduce the other to the class. I wonder what misconceptions we might end up with….

“This is Pierre. He eats cats.”                                                                                                                                          “Non, non, I said I like cats!”

The other I often play is “Truth or Lie”. I give them three facts about myself, two are lies and one is the truth. They have to ask me questions to guess which is the true fact. Then they do the same with the group (or a partner). I wonder if you can guess which is my truth from these three (I always use the same three. I’ve made quite a good little “back story” for my lies!)

  • I have met Johnny Depp.
  • I have ridden on an elephant.
  • I have paraglided from the top of Puy de Dome.


The weather here is grey and dull and November-y. Which is hardly surprising, it being November.


We had a feline visitor in church today. We were worshipping in the little Methodist chapel that we use once a month, in a village some 20 km from Thiers, where the main Temple is. As we arrived there was already much hilarity over the young cat who wanted to come in.The yoof were trying to chase it away. We started the service, and as latecomers arrived so too did the cat. It slunk in as the door opened, and then started trotting brazenly around. When it jumped on the communion table Matthias, our Pastor, took it by the scruff and ejected it, but within seconds its loud plaintive meeowing and scratching on the door forced him to allow it back in (with the proviso that if it jumped on the table again it would go out.) We gather it was hungry as its meeows became louder as it trotted around. I cuddled it for a while, but it wanted to explore. Finally the yoof were given the task of finding its owner, while I plotted how to smuggle it home if it was still around at the end of the service. Which it wasn’t, as the yoof had fulfilled their task. Dammit!


Honey and peanut chicken tonight. I wonder how that will turn out. I cooked an amazingly brilliant Spicy carrot soup. It was similar to my Spicy Coconut-and-Butternut-Squash soup, but (huzzah!) with ingredients that are more easily found in France than Butternut squash.

I’m using my Wagamama cookbook to cook for friends on Friday evening. Some of the ingredients are beyond finding, but I’ve got some reasonable substitutes in mind (e.g. Gewurtztraminer in place of sake). Others (Ramen noodles, lemongrass and Wasabi paste) are usually findable in the enormous Géant hypermarket or La Grande Fraise Marché (Does that translate as “The Enormous Strawberry”? Or maybe I’ve got its name wrong.)


And finally, some photos from the Cider making on 24th October. I look forward to trying the product at a later date.




Lost…and found.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

We had a phone call (at 8.30 am, so that’s 7.30 UK time – she must have been happy!) from a very happy MiL: she’d found the bracelet at the bottom of her suitcase. Much rejoicing.

Just a note to say how much I enjoy reading other people’s Blogs. I don’t usually comment, as I don’t feel I’ve got much to say, but it’s good to read what folk are doing/thinking. I wish I was able to be as thoughtful and profound as many of you. I just pootle along, wittering on about inconsequential rubbish, while others amongst us are able to make thoughtful and thoughtprovoking posts. Maybe one day. But then and again, maybe (probably!) not. But thank you for making me think just a little bit more than I usually do.

And now, off to bed, I think, as I need to get up at 6.15 to drive 70-odd km for one-and-a-half hours teaching and then drive back again. It will almost cost me everything I earn in those one-and-a-half hours to teach them, as I have the motorway tolls, petrol and wear-and-tear on the Dormobile. This wasn’t the plan, but my French teacher/English student (she teaches me French, I teach her English!) is ill and can’t make the lessons we’d planned. It’s too late to cancel the lesson I have with the Boring Car Guy (all he ever wants to talk about is cars. Thankfully it’s his second-to-last lesson tomorrow) so I have to bite the bullet and go. Never mind, with my free afternoon, I will make Peach Brandy and Peach chutney with the enormous amount of peaches we’ve been given.

A quick P.S. – we’ve made our peach wine. We spent an afternoon with Michel picking peach leaves, and sampling various vintages of peach and grapefruit wine. They were both delicious, so we may be tempted to try making the Grapefruit wine (cue the Steely Dan song…) next.We were more than a little squiffy by the end of the afternoon, so I’m glad Michel was doing complicated calculations concerning the ratio of sugar to peach leaves to wine to 90% proof alcohol. Yes, we were using Ethanol in the wine – which is apparently also used in making disinfectant and in chemical engineering. Another 24 hours and we have to bottle it; then lay it down for a couple of months (at least) before sampling the wares.

Can’t think of a title. Can you?

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Isn’t it odd how one child can affect an entire class? In my class of 3eme there are 26 students; one of them, let’s call him L. , has psychological problems (I don’t quite know what these are, but I guess, in my old fashioned way, I’d call him EBD – emotionally/behaviourally disturbed) If he decides to be helpful and quiet, the class runs smoothly, as I truly believe most of the others are “on my side”. But if L. is in a strop, the others seem to take that as permission to kick off as well. Today he was quiet, and so the class went well: I don’t know if he learned anything, but at least it gave the others an opportunity to learn, without being interrupted by me constantly asking L. to stop talking/turn round/not throw things etc etc. And without others following his lead. But I don’t want to just sigh a sigh of relief because he was quiet. I want to be relieved that he learned something too. I really wish I knew how to deal with him – the other teachers just sigh “Oh, L. Yes, he’s a real problem.” and don’t give much help in how to deal with him. The Director says “Tell me if he misbehaves”, but…I’m not sure how helpful that is – and if I keep going to the Director with tales of low-level misbehaviour it makes me seem a complete wimp.

On another note, my Mother in Law arrived yesterday for a week’s stay, with Mr D’s Australian Cousin arriving on Thursday. It’s always nice to see them – I get on well with MiL and Australian Cousin. AC is actually working in London for a year (or maybe two) and so we’ll probably get to see her a couple of times. Which will be nice. They will be going out for walks, I think, while I (sigh) go out to earn the sous! Mind you, I’m not a great walker, so maybe I’d rather work. (No, on second thoughts, I don’t think that’s the case). I’m not working at the weekend though (huzzah!) so we’ll go out then – although Michel across the road has offered to show Mr D how to make vin de peche so we may go and do that. It involves rosé wine and peach leaves left to macerate.

I finally sweetened and decanted my nut wine – a month later than I should have done. Green walnuts collected around St Jean’s day (21st June, I think) were left to macerate in a mixture of red wine and eau de vie, with cinnamon sticks and lemon peel. After adding sugar and bottling them, we have to wait another couple of months before drinking. Last year, one of my students gave me a bottle of his father’s nut wine – which MiL drank most of!!! – so this is replicating his recipe. I hope it’s as nice. I will give MiL her own bottle!

We’ve been invited up to friends on Sunday – it’s coq-au-vin time. We’ll be eating Speckled Jim, which is sad in a way, but as Clare’s a good cook, she’s sure to have done him justice! Speckled Jim was one of our cockerels who went to live with Jean and Clare on their smallholding, as we falsely thought he was plucking the backs of the hens as he had his Wicked Way with them. We have since discovered that it’s Tikka (the Top Hen) who is keeping all the others in order by pecking their feathers out. She’s a rather unpleasant bossy chicken: I don’t give her the scraps when I go up to fed them. She terrorises the others into handing over their scraps instead. Having said that, she’s the only one who has produced any chicks (one of which we’ll be eating on Sunday. Speckled Jim, we salute you.) Photos of hens will follow, when I download them, but we have Raoul, the cockerel, Tikka and Masala, French and Saunders, Rosie and CouNou. They love bits of ham and were fighting over a scrap of paté en croute, but have got rather blasé about left over bread (of which there’ll be a lot today as I didn’t realise Mr D had bought a baguette, and I bought a flute. So we’ll be breaded out at lunch.)

Talking of lunch, I’d better go and make the guacamole. It’s a “Bit” lunch – carrot/sweet potato/pumpkin soup, guacamole, left over salmon and home made houmous. Bits of Stuff. And lots of bread!

And so it was…

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Much better today! Your prayers, comments and thoughts are much appreciated.


It’s going to be fine.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Last Friday’s lesson at the Collège was a disaster. Well, actually, no, I must be fair to myself. It wasn’t very good, but hardly a disaster – the class have started to push the boundaries a little, and I’m afraid I lost it. I had them sitting with arms folded while I ranted. In very poor French. I just about held in my tears until they’d all gone, but then I started weeping. Truly, if I hadn’t signed the contract that day I think I’d’ve walked. Which, in the cold light of several days’ hindsight would have been a total over reaction. I was persuaded by another teacher to go and see the Head who was quite helpful and promised to talk to the Trouble Makers on Monday morning.

Meanwhile I have spoken to an ex-English teacher (who promised to lend me some resources), an ex-EBD teacher, and I posted on Ship Of Fools. I have had loads of helpful advice and I really feel optimistic about going back in tomorrow. I have sorted out a clear (I hope) discipline procedure, written the Class Rules (as voted on by the students, and added to by me), and am planning on starting a Reward chart for teams, with the students deciding (within limits) what the reward is to be.

I know I must be optimistic, and greet them as a new day and as a Teacher who is pleased to see them. I must be fair, well-balanced and friendly but not a Walk Over. I must not expect them to be little sh*ts (thank you Agatha – you said that a while back!) And most of all, I Must Not Take It Personally When They Are Little Sh*ts!!!

So yes, it’s Going to be Fine.

Pootling along

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Not much new really.

I went to see the Head of the Lycée/collège today. They want someone to take some conversation lessons, but unfortunately at a time when I already have commitments. I’ve left them my timetable, as the English teacher said they were exploring other ideas and perhaps I could get involved at a later date. So we shall see. This didn’t come about from my mailing, as I thought, but from a business card I stuck up (by sheer chance) in a small boulangerie in the town. That’s the second enquiry I’ve had through this – I really ought to find some other places to put a business card!

My vertigo has decided to come back. I think it’s something to do with being sleepy/tired. Although I feel like I’m getting a good night’s sleep (at least 7 hours a night) I still wake feeling quite tired. Mr D says I snore terribly (the latest description is like a ball bouncing on a raquet – including the vibrations! I can’t quite imagine this, but I think it must be bad! I feel sorry for him.) so I’m going to go and speak to the doctor, in case it’s sleep apnea (sp?) Coupled with my dizziness maybe I should be worried… Yesterday it came on me all of a sudden on the way to church -thank goodness I wasn’t driving! So I spent the whole service sitting with my eyes closed: I didn’t take much in. Not that I do anyway, as I still struggle with sermons in French.

This evening I’m going to join the local Chorale. My dear friend Paul has persuaded me along.I have a strong voice, but it’s not that musical. When I was in plays-with-songs in Milton Keynes I was never told to stand at the back and mime, as some of my friends were, but nor did I ever get parts in “proper” musicals performed by the Operatic Society. I did audition, but never got very far. I had singing lessons for about two years, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I think there was some improvement – especially in confidence – but I’ll never be a soloist.  A good voice would be one of my dreams…but so would several other things. I’m not sure which I would choose.

Miss…Miss, plizz Miss. Take 2.

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Aha! I’ve solved the problem of why I couldn’t see what I was typing. And now I can see!Japes was impressed that my typing was accurate even when “blind”. TBH, so was I!

Anyway, back to Miss…Miss: Yes, I took the job at the Collège teaching the 3eme – 14 and 15 year olds. I’ve had two lessons – both OK, but I realise how much of the Teaching Children Skills I have forgotten. With adults you don’t need to bring in the “Control” aspect – I’ve already confiscated a Love Note and a doodled upon diary. That doesn’t happen quite so much with businesspeople! I’m not leaving enough time for giving out homework, I’m not timing the lessons quite well enough, and the lessons need to go more slowly for 26 than for 3 or 4. It’s easier to overlook the struggling student as well.  I also need to get used to the Admin/discipline systems, so totally unlike what I was used to in the UK Primary system. Not that they’re bad in any way, just unfamiliar.

On top of this collège, I’ve had another asking if I can teach another 3 hours there. Again, I think with the 3eme. However, it’s about 30 minutes drive away, and the thought of driving for an hour for an hours teaching three times a week is not very appealing. So I’ve turned that one down.

But I have had the Director of a Private Collège/Lycée in Roanne also phone me up to see if I can teach there. I don’t know how many hours yet – I’m seeing him on Monday afternoon to discuss it. I think it’s as a result of a mailing I did about a year ago, sending my CV and letter to various private schools in the area. Although I didn’t get any replies, presumably they kept my details on file.

I am a little unsure though whether I really want to end up teaching secondary children almost fulltime. I left teaching in 2000, because of the marking and paperwork which was getting me down. I don’t want to find myself back in that Working Every Evening And At Weekends Too mode that I was in. And that I escaped from. Yes, I know we need the money, but it’s not what I wanted to come to France for. I want to enjoy my teaching, not resent it.

Ooh, goodness me, don’t I sound whiney?!




On second thoughts, don’t answer that!

Actually, it’s quite exciting. Things are changing slightly, my direction might be changing, but that’s OK. My friend Clare, whose children are at the collège here, is pushing the Head to employ me to take her children plus the other English children for “High Level English” lessons – they can do the “I am happy, you are happy, he is happy” lessons, and their spoken English is good. But there is the danger that they might lose their writing/reading skils unless pushed. So perhaps I could teach them, eve for one hour a week. That would be good. But, of course, it’s not going to be Government funded, so the Head has to decide whether the school will fund it or not.

Let’s be positive. It could be great!

I see what you mean, Agatha

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

A rather thought provoking comment made about my last post…

I get the feeling that I offended you in some way, Agatha. That certainly wasn’t my intention, and I certainly do understand your comment that if I go into the classroom thinking I can’t control the class then I’m conceding defeat before we even begin. Maybe you’re right and I shouldn’t take up the post.

As to the thought that adults can be unpleasant too: oh, yes, I agree there. Perhaps I shouldn’t’ve phrased my comments about adolescents quite as forcefully as I did. But for someone who’s only dealt with primary school children, the thought of grown up children is a bit scary. I was trying to express this but obviously not very well. I have nothing but respect for Secondary School teachers and what they do every day. And I’m not sure if I can do it. But I’m thinking that I’d like to give it a go…

Anyway, I find with my sitting upright and typing my vertigo,which struck this morning, has got worse. So I’m off.

It’s Not About the Cat!

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

I just thought I’d do a quick post that is not about Pumpkin. Yes, there are other concerns in my life.

I may be getting some more work. I should be shouting “Huzzah!” but I’m not totally sure how I feel about it. Let me explain:

For 18 years in England I was a competent Primary school teacher. I taught most ages up to 10 year olds, and I was good at my job. I liked the teaching but not the piles upon piles of paperwork that went with it. I left teaching in 2000 and became a Local Government drone in the Education Department of the LEA. I quite enjoyed my work, but when we decided to move here to France I took a CELTA certificate (Cambridge certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults). Since living here I’ve taught English in various places, but am currently working for a language school in Clermont Ferrand, working mostly with people from the Michelin plants. Unfortunately with the economic downturn, Michelin have cut down on teaching hours, and there’s not a lot of other work. I’m doing an average of 7 or 8 hours a week. I also teach a 19 year old and her 14 year old brother, as well as 3 primary school children. I love my work : not too much paperwork, some preparation, no marking. Something I’m good at. But not enough of it.

So now the local Collège (11 – 15 year olds) have phoned me up, desperate because they don’t have a teacher for the oldest class. Would I do it? 3 hours a week, guaranteed, in the town where I live, at double the rate I’m getting paid at CF (with 2 hour’s travel + associated costs each day). I should be biting their hands off, but I’m still prevaricating…Especially because of the age of the students. I’ve never taught this age. In fact in the UK I positively went out of my way to avoid this age. All my experience is with the younger children , I feel more able to control them and to teach them successfully.

As well as that, I’m aware that 15 year olds (in fact, all adolescents, as far as I understand it!) can be little sh*ts. They seize on a teacher’s weakness and play on it. My main weakness being my lack of French. I can get by, but I’m not sure I am fluent enough in French to control a class of unruly teenagers. I have suggested to the Director that if they can swop around, and I teach the younger end of the market, and the remaining teacher teaches the older students then I’d be happy to do it. But I don’t know if they can do that.  I think I’ll accept, but I am rather hesitant.

Of course, the LEA may refuse me permission anyway . There’s a possibility that they may not accept/recognise my qualifications. (because, after all, I only did 4 years study, have 18 years teaching experience and a B grade CELTA. And am a native English speaker, unlike the former teacher who was teaching them incorrect English…)(according to my “Spy” – 14 y-o Bertrand. Altho he maybe may not be trusted!!)

So: watch this space.

And now I’m off to trawl the supermarkets to see if I can find Felix pouches, Rabbit flavour. These appear to be the preferred food of Pumpkin, so off I go! Anything to keep her eating. (There, I couldn’t quite manage to post without mentioning her, could I?!)