Another weekend means another week gone of my Year Abroad. I have now been here for almost 2 months, and it is scary to think this time in 5 weeks I will be back on the better side of The Channel for the Christmas holidays with only 4 months of my teaching contract in France remaining.
It's safe to say I haven't progressed in the language as much as I'd hoped I would by this stage. I still can't really follow a conversation of more than 2 Frenchies, and I'm pretty sure I'm permanently stuck in the present tense when I speak. I still panic when a randomer asks me for directions, and I still use the excuse that 'je suis anglaise' when I freak out and can't reply to someone.
HOWEVER, today I am feeling relatively positive for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Christmas playlist is currently playing on my iTunes and I'm having a nice sing-song with The Pogues. Secondly, they've put Christmas lights up in Melle (!!!!) which I was worried wasn't going to happen because a) France don't seem to be quite as Christmas-obsessed as the UK, and b) Melle is Melle, ie. slightly behind the times.
For less festive and more serious reasons, teaching went really well this week. OK so I only worked a total of 5 hours the whole week, but they were 5 good hours. And they all took place at the lycée because I wasn't at the collège this week. In the classes I was in on Tuesday I wasn't actually teaching, I was just doing mock-speaking exams with them. It was a strange role-reversal, with these super stressed-out kids sitting in front of me one at a time whilst I grilled them with dreaded questions like 'tell me about yourself'.
On Thursday I was back to normal teaching, and I had been asked to prepare a class on weapons and military to use in 2 consecutive classes. Knowing that I had to keep the level really basic, it still required me to do some research on the subject, and I now know the difference between a shotgun and a rifle. Well, kind of. Anyway, struggling to think of a way of making it an interesting lesson that would make them speak English as much as possible, I then remembered a certain A-Level French lesson I had a few years ago. Basically, my teacher got us to write a short story that consisted of newly-taught vocab, along with a few other totally random and comical words. I decided to apply this idea to my classes on Thursday, thus asking them to come up with a story, in groups, that contained the new military-related words that I'd just taught them, along with a few others such as 'One Direction' and 'cabbage'. They found it difficult, and for the first few minutes I was worried they weren't going to be able to do it. But then, after I started the story off for them, their imaginations got going and they were actually managing to produce a string of sounds reminiscent of the English language. But the best part was the fact that when the bell went they told me it was a really good class and that it was 'much better than with Madame'. To top it off, the English teacher later told me that one of the pupils had approached her in the corridor and said how great my class was. Result!
Another reason for the smile on my face is that I FINALLY got the forms signed to show that I have arrived in France and started work, which means that I can receive my Erasmus grant. Yay to more money :)
Despite what I said earlier about my French not having come on as much as I'd hoped, I have noticed an improvement this week. Having had 2 weeks of holidays during which I had barely spoken any French, I thought this week was going to be a real challenge to get back into things. But at school on Tuesday and Thursday I didn't have to concentrate as hard as I usually do to understand what Manue and Sandrine (the English teachers) were saying to me. I also spoke a lot of French with Alfredo and Mike these past couple of days and in general conversation between the 3 of us it comes quite naturally now, and I no longer find myself quickly translating in my head before I speak. It helps a lot that none of us are native French speakers because therefore we all make mistakes so just don't worry about it. As long as the meaning behind what I'm trying to say is conveyed and I am understood, then I don't mind. I still lack confidence when speaking to natives though.
This week has also been gorgeous weather-wise; most days have been clear blue sky, and the past couple of days have been 18/19 degrees, so it is hard to believe it is mid-November. This has resulted in more walking, but don't worry, I won't bore you with more photos of trees and sky.
This weather and beautiful countryside, combined with the fact that my 21st is coming up and I've thus been hunting for dresses, has inspired me to get out the flat and shape up a bit. So today I went for my first run. I've signed up to a '3 Weeks to a 30-Minute Running Habit' program. Let's just say Day 1 wasn't as easy as it was made out to be... As with any exercise I try to do, this whim is unlikely to last longer than a week, but we shall see.
I'm sorry, I couldn't resist: