Sunday, February 01, 2009

When I met the twins' new teacher on Monday, one of the first things she said to me was "I speak English like a Spanish cow."
Good thing I'm not a complete French-language neophyte and know that "speaking like a Spanish cow" is a French expression means that you speak a foreign language really badly.
And her Spanish cow problem is an issue, as she's expected to teach English to a room full of children.

Why do the twins have a new teacher, you may ask? Well, their old one is out on a long-term sick leave now. It seems the week spent tramping around on the ski slopes with the children was not the best thing for someone six months along, so now she has to rest until her baby arrives.

And that's why I've agreed to come twice a week and take care of the English lessons at the school. On Thursday afternoon, we reviewed the parts of the body they've already learned and added a few more, accented by several choruses of the monotonous, yet very popular, childhood classic "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes".
I spent lots of time listening to their pronunciation and trying to correct it.
"Dis is my eye"
"Sis is my nose"
The "th" sound is a huge problem. Mallory and Alexa seem to be the only ones that can get their tongues between their teeth and say "this" correctly.

And wandering "h"s are a big issue. "Head" and "hand" are usually "ead" and "and", but somehow "arm" always picks up a carefully aspirated "h" and becomes "harm".

So, plenty there to keep me busy.

On Friday afternoon, I got Severin out of school early (he just missed an hour of study hall) and took him on a shopping expedition. He's easy to shop with because he just wants it to be over. if it fits, he'll take it. So, our trip was quickly over. We even found him a good ski jacket. Sadly, it doesn't have the Recco Avalanch System. But he is now under strict instructions find his sister and hold her hand if an avalanche strikes.

Saturday, I drove the kids into Geneva and we had lunch with Valentine's godmother. Then we went to the Natural History Museum. The kids hadn't been there for years and didn't remember it at all. I know the place quite well, though. Back when I was a student at the University of Geneva, I took some paleontology classes at the museum, spending many hours among the vast bone collections in the basement and often visiting the displays on the upper floors.

Today I'd planned to take the kids skiing, but it's been snowing like mad since early this morning. So, we're all in front of the fire, everyone with different things to do. Valentine is studying for the Brevet Blanc on Wednesday, Mallory is struggling through a huge Brian Jacques novel and Alexa is playing DS. Severin poring over his D&D manuals.
A nice Sunday afternoon.


oreneta said...

I will be offended on behalf of all Spanish cows, though I have to say, I am sure they speak English quite badly.

Have you ever heard Dave Egger's TED talk?

It is long, 20 min, but excellent, though not that related to what you are doing. Have you seen the BBC site for info? I am teaching English so if you want some info/sources for the class I'd be happy to help you out.

Poor teacher.

La Framéricaine said...

I am so happy to know that you are feeling well enough to take on the "dangers, toils, and snares" inherent in teaching little people to reproduce, if not the Queen's, at least James Dean's, English.

The "zis" and "zat" are so cute that I hate to correct it. But someone has to, non?

I wish you hours of delight in a pursuit that could not be more meaningful! Your little charges are very lucky to have you.

Beth said...

Thanks for the encouragement and the practical advice.
I'll be sure and check out the BBC stuff right away! I'm teaching again this afternoon and don't know what to do to make learning the parts of the body fun. I used up all my good ideas on Thursday!

So, I'm off to do some internet research now...

Kelly said...

I have an English friend living in Epinal. She teaches English to some students. you're right about the h sound. And the French teachers are quite blunt with their opinions from what I hear from my friend in Epinal.

Madame Marron... said...

Last year I taught English one day a week in my twins' French school, and I also brought out Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, or, as the children said it, Ed, shoulDERS, Knees et Does. They loved practicing it and making up semi-dance routines to go along with the gestures. It was a riot (for me), and I think they may still remember the difference between Heyes and Hears.