On y va à… Châteauroux!

Yep, I got it!

Châteauroux, where the public transportation is completely free and €10 and a 1h30 train ride is all that will separate me from Orléans! or Tours! or the even closer Bourges!

I am so excited to get to know this city.

My contact is already proving to be extremely helpful. My welcome letter contained information that I questioned in my last post about how to teach these students. I received a handy list of things to consider bringing and preparing for my students

simple recipes / photos of traditional dishes / photos of very well-known celebrities / photos of your house, your family, your pets / photos of traditional houses / photos of key personalities in children’s lives / simple traditional fairy tales / stickers / a recording of the national anthem / recordings of simple traditional songs /playground games/ objects linked to traditional sports/ photos of well-known shop fronts/ a puppet/ a beanbag or toss toy/picture flashcards/ a map of your country

Alors, on y va! The next three months could not pass more quickly!



Le mystère à la bibliothèque

Trying to make as much money as possible (and trying my hardest to refrain from spending it all), I got another job. I’m “Caleb’s brother the oyster shucker” (the puns are going to kill me) at the restaurant where my brother is a waiter, as well as washing dishes for them, and now I’m the mystery at the library.

Last month I did an interview at the public library, and they never called me back, so I started shucking oysters at a restaurant. Then out of the blue I was asked if I was still interested in working at the library as a library assistant. Of course, being completely without principles, I said yes, and the job rules. I want to work for the government forever now. I’m paid more than at the restaurant, and honestly I don’t feel like I’ll be doing much at all – shelving books, helping patrons, etc. The long hours pass by in a flash compared to how they drag when I’m washing dishes.

BUT apparently I am the missing puzzle piece for some people at the library. After every meeting I had with others who worked in the library followed “…so, where’s Robert?”

The guy who was hired before me mysteriously disappeared, was terminated, and everyone is wondering why. I don’t know if I have a reputation to fulfill following this guy, but it can’t have been too good if he was fired only weeks after starting work.

Next week my host family from my study abroad in France will be in Nashville for a week, and the restaurant is closed, but I will still have some work at the library – Wednesday and probably the weekend as well. I’m looking forward to seeing them and even more forward to my next paycheck at this job!

Comment apprendre l’anglais aux enfants?

While it seems like everyone around me has already been contacted by their schools, I am still waiting to hear something from mine. It won’t make any difference if it’s today or if it’s a month from now, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not anxious to find out!

I’m thinking more and more about the job that we have been hired to do. It goes without explaining that I am super stoked, but at times I get a little bit anxious. What will my classes be like? Will they be as excited to learn English as I am to teach it? How do I make learning it fun? How do I prepare for this?

Reading through other assistants’ blogs, I am gleaning some tips here and there about the best and worst parts of the job but it seems like the consensus is that you won’t know much until you’re there. For one assistant, their class was divided into small groups and they worked with a different group each class period; and at a different school they were in charge of the entire class. How you run the class will differ based on how the main teacher divides it up. “Assistant” could be a misnomer.

I worked as a Supplemental Instructor for French for three years. We were not allowed to call ourselves tutors, but that’s really what we were. I attended class with my students and then held three hours of out-of-class sessions each week. I did not teach new material, but I was available to help clarify concepts, to help with homework, and to most of the time re-teach the class. I created mini-lesson plans and printed off hundreds of worksheets over the course of those three years. However, I never had a group of more than ten students, and we all spoke English.

So, I have some experience that will help me when I go to France, but for the most part it will be a new experience for me and a chance to learn how to teach English to non-English speakers. I read one blog where the assistant learned that teaching was not for her. I don’t think that will be the case for me, but I am excited to learn what does and doesn’t work when teaching English.

I read our job described as focused on facilitating conversation in English through activities and showing them our culture. That’s so vague, I’m not sure what to expect! Will we be doing grammar? Every foreign language class I’ve taken has focused more on grammar than anything else, but the method is completely different in the US than it is in Europe, I’ve heard. If we are not teaching grammar, then what do we do if our students don’t even have a grasp of the basics? Since I will be in primary school, I am imagining that that will be the case. So where do we start with teaching them?

On that note, what and how do we prepare? I read a recommendation that we bring photos and things related to our national holidays and how we celebrate them, and I imagine we will go over vocabulary related to that, but other than organizing American-y things, how do I prepare? When I think about this, I start to feel so overwhelmed. Any tips would be appreciated. I want to prepare as much material as I can before I arrive in France so that maybe I won’t be quite as overwhelmed.

D’être homme

My dad became a published author this week, and I could not be more proud of him. For several years he has been growing as an aspiring writer, and finally he has his first publication. Be A Man is a collection of essays focusing on what it means to be a man in today’s society. I have only read the two that my dad wrote, but they are both funny and poignant.



But the title of the collection had me wondering: what does it mean to be a man? The classic notion of what it means to be a man is severely outdated, because a man can be weak or strong, feminine or masculine – basically every adjective you can think of. So if the classic concept of manhood is not true, then what is? “Be yourself” is too broad and vague. Is “being a man” any different from what it means to “be a woman”? I don’t think so. I think that being a man is about being a decent human being, making mistakes and growing from them.

It’s interesting to think about, that’s for sure!

Or maybe we could just defer to Mulan.