Tag Archives: French

Jour 8: Lea receives her diplome!

5 Jul

I spent most of the day preparing my stuff to leave in two days. Laid out in the sun, read, transferred my photos to Google Drive so there would be space on the iPhone to take pictures, you know, the usual. I also did some laundry from the time I’ve spent here.
It was a very nice relaxing day. Tomorrow the kids have a day off so it’ll be nice to spend it with them.

Upon receiving my acceptance letter for a Masters in Teaching in the mail (Thanks for the email, Dad!) I decided to look/apply for scholarships.

Lea came into my room asking for an opinion on clothing because she had a boum (party) tonight. Assuming she had another sleepover at Sophia’s or something with her girlfriends I helped her put an outfit together but nothing was working. She asked me what my size was then tried on my clothes.
People, I’ve hit an all-time-low. First I’m only taller than some of the 6th graders in the school I substitute for and now my clothes fit the 5th grade girl in France whom I Au Pair. There must be something in the water…

So Lea borrowed my shorts.
About an hour or less later Au Pair mom comes up and asks me if I want to see Lea get her diplome from 5th grade. (She’s going into middle school next year so they had a 5th grade graduation.) Oh! They’re having a party for the grade AFTER the graduation. Got it.

So we went to the park nearby (Have I mentioned how much I love French towns?! Everything is there! It’s such a cute little community. I’ve met the same people 3/4 times at different gatherings. It’s so nice!) and we sat in this beautiful ampitheatre!

Ampitheatre
The woman who was speaking at this event mentioned the tradition of giving dictionaries every year. Apparently this has been going on for many years and she talked of her personally graduating from the school and keeping the dictionary on her bookshelf for at least 20 years.

Friends

Lea received her “diplome”/ dictionnaire and so did all of her friends.

At the end this woman came up to Au Pair mom and I. She could not stop talking. She totally thought I had a kid at the school, (quite a surprise from Michigan where I’m mistaken as one of the students,) I come to find out she’s running for Mayor of the town and was trying to chat us up.

IMG_1864

I only WISH we had this to play on in Michigan.

So Lea and her friends left for the boum and I stayed back with Constantin as he tried to play on this.

Jour 5: La Kermesse (School Fair)

2 Jul

9:00am – I got up at a normal time this morning (after resting my head on the pillow and being unable to properly fall asleep until 3am) and feel pretty rested right now. Let’s see how that lasts…

I got breakfast for me and Constantin where he was helping me with my French again. (I said “petite” instead of “petit” and he was mad because I basically called him a girl.) This 7 year old actually seems to like teaching me French. Which is weird because I taught him English last summer. I guess he’s returning the favor? Cool!

I’ve always had difficulty hearing and speaking French. (I’m more of a visual learner.) I can read, write, and understand it very well but my ear hasn’t yet full attuned itself to the Parisian accent and the correct pronunciaton of words. Surprisingly I can say 90% of words correctly but there are a few “japonais”, “enseigne”, and some others that I can’t remember in which I either have trouble pronouncing them  or was taught the wrong way to in class.

These difficulties are teaching me how important it is to learn a language through hearing it first then to introduce the writing/reading of it. I’ll really try to focus on that when it comes time to teach in my future classroom.

10:30 am – Constantin’s spectacle!
His grade put on a dance where he played the waves in the ocean, a crab, and a kangaroo.

Here’s the blurry crab: (with the red/orange gloves in the middle)
IMG_1770

It was very cute and after the family threw a BBQ lunch before the Kermesse.

There is always a Saturday “Farmer’s Market” in town so Au Pair mom picked up some items for the BBQ lunch.
Meat from the Boucherie, and lasagna & fruit from the market.

Instead of having supermarkets with everything in them (like Walmart or Meijer) France has little stores that sell a lot of specifics. There was so much fresh meat in this boucherie. I mean Paris does have a Carrefour or Monoprix (super markets) but they’re far away and these stores are just a walk away in town.

2:30 pm FT – Sophia came over and Lea wanted to show her the short film I recently was in “Say Cheese”. Sophia is Lea’s best friend and one of the children that Courtney 1 au paired for last summer (MISS YOU, COURT!) We all ate lunch then left for the Kermesse. At lunch I asked the mom if France had peanut butter (it was something I had mentioned to Lea before when we got candy at the store yesterday.) Au Pair mom said it’s in some specialty stores. Au Pair Dad had no clue what it was, (he’s from France) WHAT? France doesn’t have peanut butter?! Strange.

3:45pm FT – The girls went off and hung out and I followed constantin around while he played different games. He absolutely rocked this one.

IMG_1795

IMG_1793

I mainly spoke in French with Constantin at the Kermesse to continue to practice speaking and to make it seem like I was not American to all the other kids and parents -SUCCESS. All of them spoke to me in French. 🙂

After spending most of the day at the fair, I headed back to the house to relax, take a shower and have a few minutes away from the craziness.
Day 2 of the first fun-filled weekend in Paris –  Tomorrow is Constantin’s birthday party! Mentally preparing for 13 six-seven year old boys to be here all day.

My Hopes for This Trip

28 Jun

Hello blog – I’ve missed you so.
Before we dive into the first post I want to share some of my hopes & expectations of this trip.
I hope:
– To become more fluent in French
– To take LOTS of pictures/videos 🙂
– To have a great teaching experience
– To learn more about French history/culture
– To be able to sleep/rest on this crazy whirlwind trip

and probably most importantly for you all:
– To be able to post on this blog by 12pm daily (After the first week in Paris, I have no idea if I’ll have WIFI or the time to post. :/ So I will try to keep you all in the loop.)
“Does this mean that we won’t be able to hear of your adventures at all, Courtney?”
Do not fear! I will have a little notebook on hand (well, in purse) so I can always type up some blogs posts if I have an hour free, or you know, when I return home.

Jour 1 (Day 1) Will be posted today at 12pm MI time. 🙂  Merci et bisous!

Day 38: Paris in the Rain

11 Aug

Melinda slept over and we had a lazy morning.
We ended up deciding against Versailles, too difficult to get there.
We tried to meet my friend from high school Mark at the Louvre, today was the first Sunday of the month, a.k.a. free museum day.
But we got there just as the museum was closing.
FWA, man. France Wins Again.

So we walked around the Tuileries with our umbrellas and spoke in French for about an hour or two.
I was so surprised how my French improved! I wasn’t searching for words, conjugations were coming out of my mouth correctly – score!
we ended up walking in the rain down the Champs-Elysee and watched a French movie (thanks for the free tickets, Court!)
We saw Paris-Manhattan which was about this girl who thought of Woody Allen as her idol. (Interesting premise. I think Woody Allen made this film too.)
She was kind of trying to date and look for a man and this guy who was perfect for her was right under her nose the entire time.
The film did NOT have subtitles and I didn’t understand everything, but I got the story. I understood it! Sometimes better than Melinda and she speaks French with her Au Pair kids (they don’t know English.)

After the movie we walked back to the train station (probably took about 25/30min) STILL in the rain. It was so cold.
And had an American dinner . Hamburger and French fries.
We listened to American music and then Melinda went back to her French household.

Sorry there isn’t any pictures, I didn’t want my camera to get wet.

Tomorrow I will be all on my lonesome in Paris, let’s see how it goes!

Day 19: Teaching Time – part deux

19 Jul

Teaching checklist for the day:

  • Watched Disney’s Magic English part 2 DVD
  • Constantin is getting a lot better at speaking and enjoys playing the DVD
  • looking up worksheets to color and practice English

Constantin drew a story and then explained what was happening.
This was a very good exercise but 1/2 of what he said was in French.
I filmed the story, so he has something to reference and we will try this activity again to gauge improvement.

Constantin and I baked cookies today as a belated birthday gift for his mother.
I explained to him all that we needed to do and later I will ask him all the steps we had to go through to make the cookies.
Then we tested a few (to make sure no one else would die from eating them of course).
After the cookies were done, Constantin and I went to the park where he saw his friend Théo.

Constantin was playing soccer (Sorry Europe, football) with Théo and his brother Pablo.
Constantin gracefully kicked the ball into the pond. And we searched for a net.
Reminder – EVERYONE SPEAKS FRENCH.
So I’m struggling on the French word for “net” as we ask the police (Their station happens to overlook the park, how nice)
The lady police officer informs me that there is no such thing like a net and then I find one behind a pole near the door.
“Puis-je l’utiliser?” BAH, OUI. (popular French phrase, it’s also probably the funniest French phrase for Americans.)
I’m attempting to create waves to move the soccer ball closer. Pablo found a very long stick and  began splashing the water as well.
It was counter-productive to my efforts, but I couldn’t think of the words in French at the time.
We finally get close to retrieving the ball when the net falls off of the pole.
Now we have lost a soccer ball and the net to this strange, uniquely magnetic French pond.
Pablo then fishes out the ball with the stick and I use the stick to pull out the net. Last thing I need is the French police after me for net thievery.

Despite the soccer ball disaster, there is one thing that is really cool about France. The town hall is where all the shops are as well as the school, library, park,  bank, pretty much everything. It’s really nice because almost every time you visit, there are people and there is typically something to do. In America you have to decide on a restaurant or a house to meet up at and then drive 20min. In France, you just walk 5/10min and you’re in the center. Or hey, take a train.

The cookies turned out great!
Au Pair mom was ecstatically happy and even though Constantin speaks in French for the most part, he knew a lot of the vocabulary from the baking lesson.
Woohoo! English fluency is on it’s way!

Day 12: Fun in the Sun

12 Jul

Léa leaves in 3 days. 3 DAYS.
I’m gonna miss that girl like no other.

She’s been so helpful with me and Constantin because he slurs his words together and sometimes speaks in slang French that I don’t understand.

And she’s just a sweetheart. But she’ll have a wonderful time in August with her grandparents and I’ll see her in August when I return to the states. 🙂
We all went to the pool today, and it was gorgeous outside… for about an hour.
Constantin is the cutest, he LOVES the water although he cannot swim very well so Courtney and I stayed in the shallow end with him.
Léa and Sofia are spending as much time as they can together before Léa leaves.

At the pool, Courtney was asking Constantin may different questions in English and he got very quiet.
Although Constantin’s English has made a huge improvement since before I got here, he still has a ways to go before he speaks in full complete sentences to express himself.
Courtney had a wonderful time play with Constantin then we all left the pool and headed for a snack.
We ended up sharing 2 baguettes between the 6 of us (at that point, we picked up Yannis from Tennis)

We all headed home to Sofia’s house after where the kids played and the au pairs hung out.
WE BOOKED OUR PLACE TO STAY FOR THE SOUTH OF FRANCE. YAY!
Courtney was going out for the night so I just stayed with the kids and their mom came home shortly after with dinner.
We all went out for “ice cream” later (it was actually gelato, the flavors were in Italian. It was a little confusing.)

And then Muriel (Sofia’s mom) showed me around St. Germain-en-Laye. It’s a gorgeous town! Sort of like a little Paris, without being so overwhelming.
There is a beautiful church, theatre and a lovely park that overlooks Paris.
If you have time to spare when visiting, stop by St. Germain for dinner or something. It’s totally cute.

It was really nice to have a tour guide again, I’ll start to plan some more tour-type things in the near future.
I just prefer having a companion in Paris as opposed to going off by myself.

Tomorrow: Pool day again with the kids!

Day 10: 4th of July Celebration!

10 Jul

It’s true what they say about France, people don’t really arrive on time.
The party officially started at noon.
We were still cleaning the house and setting up the tents around that time.
At 1, the nanny/maid came with her children to help set up.
it’s 2pm, still guests have not arrived. Toto, we’re are so not in Michigan anymore.
in high school, one of my friends would always arrive 15min early to parties. The latest I’ve had a friend show up was a half hour late.
Everyone was very into the theme of 4th of July. Even Glory the family guinea pig.
Glory, aaptly named for this season
At 2:30 piles of people started to trickle in. Everyone was so very nice and very few people speak English. So I jumped at the chance to speak/hear all the French.
I talked with this one lady about University in USA and what I was studying, she was very nice.
I also met another au pair Melinda who is from Germany but speaks German, French, English and knows Latin. She’s 19. We need to step it up, America.
Melinda was so sweet and very excited to practice her English. I practiced my French as much as possible.

Let me tell you though, it’s VERY confusing for me (Melinda as well) to go back and forth from English to French.
When learning another language, it’s really best to be fully immersed in that language and go back & forth as little as possible. I mean, Melinda pulled out Google translate for a few vocabulary words like “Chicken Pox” (which is “varicelle” in French. I don’t know from where we arrived at “Chicken Pox”.)
It was Melinda’s first week in France and she was very excited to meet another au pair her age (as I was too because Courtney will be leaving in a few weeks!)
We swapped phone/Facebook info and will definitely be keeping in touch.

The family’s nanny/maid Latifa also wanted me to teach her daughter Nassima english. Nassima wants to be a flight attendant but needs to know English to do so. It was very good because I spoke a lot of French with her asking her about school and other things.
The girls raiding my room during the party
The girls

Nassima & SofiaNassima on the left and Sofia on my phone. I found about 5/6 pictures of various person’s bottoms afterward. No wonder she looks so mischievous in this picture. 😉

One other tip about practicing another language? It’s exhausting.
I was tired around 5/6 o’clock, (when the party was supposed to end mind you, it ended up going until midnight.) so I guess my Paris plans for later that day were shot. That’s okay, it was raining like crazy outside.
I spent the rest of the night Skype-ing people from back home, working on the blog and planning my adventures in the next coming weeks.

Around 11pm, I was called down to the living room and the girls put on a lovely performance.
Sofia/Léa and the other girls apparently love making up dances and performing them. It was very cute and pretty good!
I stayed down for a little longer and danced with the girls and their moms.
I love this family. I could not ask for anything more as an au pair.
After that I went to bed because all this language work tired out my brain, one step closer to fluency!