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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Up the sleeve

I just got in from un stage. I can’t think of how to translate un stage into English besides, “a general waste of one’s time.” In the spirit of being discrete, I will try to remain vague and say only that this particular stage covered foreign language teaching in primary schools. While I appreciate the time and effort of the people who conducted it, it was a tad—pardon the pun!—elementary. Perhaps I’m being arrogant but some of the points covered were things like, “make sure the kids keep their notebooks neat,” and “with children, you must be repetitive.” Um, yeah. Also, ALL of the games, ideas, classroom management phrases, themes, worksheets and websites proposed or handed-out by the speakers were in or for English only, even though 3 of the 4 participants present were not English-language teachers.

To be fair, I did pick up a few new little games and phrases, which perhaps will gain a lot more value someday when I realize I have seven minutes left in a class and have finished all the things planned for my lesson. (Additionally, to be even more fair, these negative comments could stem from the fact that this stage—comme d’hab—was over 2 days which means I had to spend the night in some drafty, empty high school dormitory outside of the city, with only another assistant for company who recently married a Frenchman that owns what sounded like an astounding piece of property complete with original, yet newly-restored farmhouse AND who spoke of her recently acquired life with all the excitement of someone who merely found an abandoned umbrella on a public bus. That is to say, she could have probably seemed more excited. But I don’t know, maybe in her country she’s a princess or something, and this is a step down. )

All of this makes me think about how my father insists that the French have this odd tendency to take lots of time in order to explain something that you already know. I personally am still researching this theory.

However, the above makes me thing about one of the things the French have mastered: being personal.

Let me explain. My boss lady’s husband came to pick me up after the stage. We crept through rush-hour traffic but were only on the expressway for an exit or so when Mr. Bosslady muttered, “Oh shoot. I wanted to take the scenic route home along the coast.” So, he turned off at the next exit and proceeded to drive through every tiny town and roundabout along the very Northwestern edge of La Manche, stopping along the way to buy us each a pain au chocolat and then later to see the dunes of Kermerra. The whole scenic drive around bays and inlets, through medieval town centers and up and down gentle Breton hills peppered with black and white vaches added at least 30 minutes to the journey, and was solely for my benefit.

And then! later after he had dropped me off and I entered my apartment I immediately noticed that something was a little different. But, since I’m paranoid and think something has been moved in my apartment no less than a dozen times a day, it took me a few minutes to realize that something was indeed different. Someone had let themselves into my apartment and dropped off an extra mattress, sheets and blankets (unfortunately they had to move my drying rack full of clean underwear in order to do so….) AND had fixed the broken handle on the refrigerator.

A few days ago, I had mentioned to the Boss Lady that my brother would be visiting in a few weeks, and that the fridge door handle had cracked but that it really didn’t bother me.

Despite the slight creepiness of people having keys to where I sleep and keep all my stuff, I would count today as a "good" French day.

1 comment :

Pekka & Halle said...

if you find yourself on the other side of La Manche say 8-15 dec. i'll be there getting VIVA-ed. --ham

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