Saturday, 16 January 2010

Teacher’s pit

I have been teaching English to 3 primary classes since 9th November last year. So how am I getting on?

Well, so far I have not been paid a centime, but I have faith that French bureaucracy will catch up.

I see my job as teaching the kids English, but unfortunately they have the attention span of gnats and they see the lesson as a chance to mostly whisper to each other, ask to go to the toilet, pass each other notes, etc.

Teachers over here maintain discipline by giving out lines or telling the children to go and stand in the corridor, but their favourite plan is to scream at full, piercing volume at them to regain their attention.

I have no intention of becoming a screamer. Continuously and fruitlessly asking them to be quiet is giving me a long lasting sore throat.

The nurse teaching is more interesting, as they are much quieter (at the moment) and are content to loll in their seats.

Last week I had a 3 hour session with half of the 55 students. I was accompanied by one of the course tutors, who also speaks a little English, but does not use it in class. She has a very quiet voice, and would be unheard by my primary classes.

The nursing college is in Nissen huts, which used to be a school, pending refurbishment at the College campus. Fortunately the huts are warm, very warm. We commenced the session, and I was getting quite hot. I noticed that not one student had taken off their thick coats or scarves, so I asked them if any of them wanted to take off their coats, as when it came to their smoke break out in the freezing playground, they would not feel the benefit of having their coats on. Not one student unwrapped themselves. The tutor told me that this was because they are French students and they feel the cold ........

One of the students’ main tasks was based on the questions in English that they would need to ask someone, in order to fill in the hospital registration form.

During the session, one of the students raised her hand and said “Do you ‘ave a jet?”

Now I know that technically this is South West France, but is isn’t the Cote d’Azur. I said that I didn’t understand. “Est-ce que vous avez un avion?” (Do you have an aeroplane?) I queried. No, do you ‘ave a jet?

I asked her to spell the word for me. “D-i-e-t” she said.

See how complicated language can be...

They seem like a nice bunch of students though and it will be interesting to see how things progress.

I haven’t been paid for this work either nor have my scheduled hours been authorised by the director of the college yet, but I suppose it is early days.

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