Sunday, May 9, 2010

Inside the Classroom: My Year Teaching English in France

So I taught English for 7 months at a high school in Lorraine, France. Possibly, it was one of the best years of my life, and it gave me an entire new perspective on my own high school experience in the USA. (I will discuss this more so below).

This poster to the right is LITERALLY true. I taught the kids English; they taught me French (especially all the juicy, cuss words and such).

I will rank my favorite lesson plans/ experiences I had in the past 7 months. Yet, first I will show you pictures of my classes from last day. It was so sad. I was blessed with some of the best students!

This picture is worth a million bucks. They were the class I saw most frequently, and they were so kind to give me a gift and throw me a going away party for the last day:

Here's another one of my favorite classes. We also had fun the last day, playing a game and eating Pâté de Lorraine.
Okay, so I will discuss some of my favorite/ most successful and or unsuccessful teaching experiences:

1) Teaching the Electric Slide using "The Cha Cha Slide" song (Results: Very Successful!):. This was good because it teaches directions and movements in a fun way. Songs are the best way to remember things as well. ("To the left/ Take it back now y'all/ One hop this time"). In this video, I look as if I took a few muscle relaxers. As my father said, "Your clap looks a little limp," but I actually had so much fun teaching this song to the students. It just doesn't show in the video. Even though I taught this dance to multiple classes,  this is unfortunately the only video I recorded.
2) The Daily Beast's 57 Craziest US Metropolitan Areas (Results: Very Successful): This was an article ranking the craziest US cities by four criteria: stress, pyschiatrists per capita, eccentricity and drinking levels. The students loved to read the crazy trivia under each city. For example:
  • (#15) Memphis. Crazy law: "Panhandlers must first obtain a $10 permit before begging on the streets of downtown Memphis.:
  • (#32) Nashville: Crazy law: "It is illegal to roller-skate and listen to a CD at the same time."
Their responses to these facts were, "C'est trop cool!" or "C'est fou!"  I would respond saying, "You see, America is CRAZY."
3) Song Lyrics and meanings (Results: Mixed): Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" was the most successful. Plus she was from my hometown of Nashville, but I NEVER want to hear that song again. Overall, song lyrics are a little difficult, because many times, they mean nothing. Also, there is so much slang.
4) SNL history and video clips (Results: Surprising): I know Americans have mixed opinions about how funny SNL is, but no matter what you think, SNL is a show that is very influencial on American jargon and American humor. While I was working with international students at Murray State last year, I was surprised to find that none of them knew what SNL was, and I believed it was essential to understanding American humor. Therefore, I decided to educate my students on SNL. I showed them Andy Samberg video clips, since those are the most popular with their generation. I used a clean one, "Cool Guys Don't Look at Explostions" and another one that wasn't so "clean" but easy to understand. I will let you guess which one. Yet, the reactions were surprising. The 15-year olds felt that the "unclean" video was "immature" and "stupid," whereas the 18-year olds (should be more mature) were cracking-up.
5) Current Event Fluff Pieces: White House Crasher's (Results: Successful) and Kayne West dissing Taylor Swift on the VMAs (Results: Fairly Successful).
6) Talking about American high school and stereotypes: (Results: Very Successful) They were surprised to find out that the movies don't lie. In French high schools, there are no sports teams, popularity, clubs or  Senior traditions. In fact, it is quite boring and strict; therefore, they loved to see and hear about experiences in the USA. Honestly, this made me very thankful for my own experiences at Brentwood Academy and gave me a different perspective on my years there.
7) Post-it note game (Results: Very Successful). This is the game where you are given an indentiy as a character or a famous person and have to guess who you are by asking questions like, "Am I an actor, politician, male, female, etc?" So this was very good for their English and it became quite competitive. I was surprised how successful this game was.
8) Are you a preppie? (Results: Too Difficult). I found this photo and thought it was hilarious to help describe stereotypes and dressing style in the USA. It was too difficult for some classes though, but I personally loved it and wanted to share it with this blog.
***Oh, I always wondered what English sounds like to my students or people who aren't fluent. The blog Madame Lamb posted this video which gave me a humourous idea. 

Prisencolinensinainciusol: what english sounds like to people who don't speak english

"an italian songwriter named adriano celentanowrote a song with nonsensical lyrics in an effort to replicate the sound of english. both the video and song are euro-wacky and terrific. ultramafic could mix wonders with this."

So, all in all, that sums up my year. I hope to go back next year to have and teach some more English to Frenchies. 

 Alors, c'est tout!


  1. Sarah! I love your blog!
    It's actually quiet ironical that I'm reading this today, because I just had my last lesson with my Year12/13 (première/terminale) students, and I was trying to reflect on what I had taught them throughout the year, and why it had worked or not :)

    Also, have you ever watched the "fake languages" video? It's impressive!

  2. Aw it looks like you had a ball! my ro taught in spain for 6 months and her adored it too!


  3. Sounds like you had an amazing time, it must have been so rewarding!

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