Week 6 of Placement – 16th to the 20th of April
This week, the CE1 and CE2 classes are on a residential school trip for the week. This means that there is only around 70 pupils in the school, which is very little compared to what I was used to at my primary school in Scotland. There were a few of these pupil that were not going on the trip, who joined CM1 (Madame Royer’s class). This made her class quite full, similar to the size of a class in an average Scottish primary school. There would be other children put into the CM2 and CP classes too, so that each teacher was responsible for a few children.
CM2 – The class were learning a new aspect of English conversation, which was to ask, “Can I….?” or “Can you….?”, and reply “Yes, I can” or “No, I can’t.”. Mr Apruncule wrote some examples verbs on the board, such as to write, to read, to play, to sleep and to eat. I had to ask the class in English “Can you sleep in the class?” and they would have to give the appropriate response. Then once they got the hang of this, they were to ask each other questions, encouraging them to use the new verb vocabulary. A common mistake that the children made was that they would say “Can you to eat in class?” or “Can you to write in the class”. It was difficult to explain why we don’t say the ‘to’. This is something that I have found difficult throughout my placement as well. English is my first language and therefore all of the rules of the language come naturally to me when I speak, without needing to think. Due to this I would have never considered why we don’t say the ‘to’ in these sentences, or why ‘I’ by itself is always a capital letter. These are things that are embedded in my brain and are just facts, it is not something I have to think about when I speak or write. Therefore, explaining this to children is something I have found difficult to put into clear and simple words.
CP – at the first break Madame Girault found me in the staffroom and showed me some resources she had found for today’s lesson. She wanted me to talk to the children about Great Britain and England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, to explain the Union jack and why it looks the way it does, and to talk about The Royal Family. She gave me the appropriate flags for this and a couple of photos of The Royal Family. I thought this would be good for practicing our ‘family’ vocabulary from last week. I also considered that these are quite complicated things to explain to 6 and 7 year olds in English, so I knew I would need to check the French vocabulary before the lesson. The different groups of children found this all very interesting and I could tell they enjoyed guessing who was who in the royal family. I found it difficult to remember all the words for sister, brother, son, daughter, aunt and uncle, but I made sure to write them all down and have them in front of me when I was teaching the children. To my surprise, the children all seemed to understand the concept of each nation making up part of the Great British flag, and thought that this was a clever idea. They enjoyed hearing me talk about the royal family and seemed to find it fascinating, as they do not have this type of thing in France.
CM1 – Madame Royer wants the class to do some activities this week that test their English vocabulary knowledge, as a bit of fun, considering how difficult the children found learning the time last week. She gave me a worksheet to complete with the class, called ‘what’s in the picture?’. This had a list of objects in English beside a picture of a countryside scene. The children had to tick whether or not the object could be seen in the picture. I went through this with the class question by question, and the children had to guess some of the vocabulary that they did not already know. They found ‘leaves’ and ‘ghost’ difficult because these are not similar to the words in French, so I had to draw pictures of these on the board to give the children a clue. I asked the children ‘can you see…. In the picture?’ and they had to respond with ‘yes, you can’ or ‘no, you can’t’, as Madame Royer wanted them to speak in phrases instead of one-worded answers.
CM2 – today Mr Apruncule was keen for me to help the children with their pronunciation of the numbers from 1 to 100. They had obviously already covered this in class in previous years but he wanted them to practice and hear me say the numbers. I thought that their pronunciation of the numbers was very good, although they did get confused with 13 and 30, 14 and 40, 15 and 50 and so on. This is an easy mistake to make even when you speak English, so I was not surprised to hear that the children found this confusing. During the lesson Mr Apruncule had to tell the class to be quiet a lot, it is a nice day outside and I think the children were keen to get outside for break, and therefore were a bit restless. Something that I have noticed is that there is a lack of sanctions and behaviour management strategies used in the older classes. Often, the children are simply sent out of the classroom until the end of the lesson, and this happened today in my CM2 class. In my experience, teachers did not do this until I was at high-school, children in primary school would never be completely sent out of the classroom. There was always reward systems or traffic light systems in use. I find this style of behaviour management more effective as it gives children motivation to behave, whereas if they are simply asked to leave the class they might not learn from their mistake. This is relatively evident in the CM2 class, as a few of the children are repeatedly asked to leave the classroom.
CP – we continued with our work on the Royal Family, and today I introduced the Royal Family tree to the children. Madame Girault said that they have been making their own family trees in class, so they would understand the concept of a family tree. I agreed that this would be a good way to teach them the English family vocabulary whilst also teaching them a bit about British culture. I could tell yesterday that the children found the idea of a royal family strange and intriguing. This was reflected in today’s lessons, as I felt I had the children’s attention. They enjoyed guessing who was who in the family and finding out what the words for son, daughter, husband and wife are. The class teacher and I agreed that the children’s next steps would be to create a royal family tree for them to have inside their jotters. This would probably allow the information to be consolidated as well.
CM1 – Today, Madame Royer had another more fun activity for me to complete with the class. It was about Red Nose Day. I explained that this is something that happens every two years in the UK, where we raise a lot of money for charity by doing fun and silly things all day. Madame Royer had to help me with the translation of a few phrases here, as the children were confused about what I was talking about to begin with. The worksheet that I gave to the class involved me reading out a list of everyday school rules, mixed in with Red Nose Day rules, and the children had to determine which rules were for Red Nose Day. For example, ‘You must dance in the corridor’ would be a Red Nose Day rule, and ‘You must not chew chewing-gum’ would be an everyday rule. These were complicated sentences for the children to understand, so I had to do a lot of actions at the front of the class to give the children clues as to what the rules were. They gave a lot of good guesses as well, and it was good to see that they were thinking hard about what the rule could be in English. I find that this class are always fully engaged in the activity and really want to do well in them. It helps me to enjoy the lesson even more when the children are so enthusiastic.
Today began with a trip to the theatre. We walked to Théâtre Gérard Philipe, which was very pleasant as it hit 27 degrees today! The play was about Louis XIV of France. It was done by 4 young theatre students, two of whom were playing the violin and cello, and the others were dancing and acting for the performance. Luckily for me, for most of the performance there was no talking, so it was easy for me to follow. I think the children found the play difficult to follow, as I was unsure if any of them had learnt about Louis XIV before, and knew who he was. The performers made sure to include the children in their performance, with some of them participating in the play and they brought some Star Wars into it, which the children definitely enjoyed. The play was around an hour, and after it finished we walked back to the school, just in time for the children to have lunch. I asked the children what they thought of the play and they said they had not seen a play like that before, which was the case for me too. They said it was quite strange but they liked the part where they played Star Wars, which didn’t surprise me at all!
CM1 – we went through the topic of colours today. This is a topic that the class have done before but Madame Royer wanted them to complete a Red Nose Day themed worksheet on it. The children had to draw a line from the object to its corresponding colour. I think this task was made easier because there were pictures of the objects for the children, had there not been pictures I think the children would have struggled with some of the vocabulary such as ‘a witch’s hat’ and ‘a leaf’. I felt that the children were quite tired today, but it was probably because of the heat outside, and our long walk for the trip to the theatre that morning. I realised that these children would have to work in hot conditions quite a lot, as it is only April, and the temperature can get a lot higher. If it was 27 degrees in Scotland I’m sure the pupils would be complaining that they were too hot, the pupils in France do not complain although I can tell that it makes it harder for them to concentrate.
CP – To round up my lessons about The Royal Family tree, Madame Girault wanted the children to construct their own royal family trees. Instead of the usual set up, which is the children coming to me in three groups of 10 at a time, we worked as a whole class today. This was with the help of Madame Girault and Jessica (the classroom assistant), as the class is very big and it can be difficult to control 10 of them at a time, never mind 30. The children had photos of members of the royal family, and a sheet with boxes and names of royal family members underneath them. The task was to stick the right pictures in the right boxes. The children also had to listen to my sentences in English such as ‘this is his wife’ and ‘this is her son’, and try to work out who was who. Madame Girault could help with this by translating if the children were completely clueless. The children were sad to hear that it is my last day tomorrow, but this was almost a good thing to me, as they had clearly enjoyed my time with them.
Today is my final day of placement, and I can safely say it has flown by. I have enjoyed my time at Ecole Elementaire Les Guernazelles so much, I could not have asked for a more welcoming school. I feel that in comparison to when I arrived, I am more confident in my English teaching abilities, and communicating in French. I feel a sense of achievement at how well I have got on with the staff and pupils at my school, and how well the children have come along with their English since I arrived.
CM2 – the children had constructed some sentence in English that they wanted to ask me about my time here in France. They asked, ‘is the food the same in France and Scotland?’, ‘What do you like about France?’ ‘is school the same in France and Scotland?’ and ‘what do you like about Orléans?’. I was very impressed that they came up with these questions and could ask them so well! I told the children that in France, the bread and cheese is nicer and they have snails here which we don’t have in Scotland. I said that they have longer lunch times and they have two break times instead of one, like in Scotland.
CP – I decided to read the children ‘Dear Zoo’, like I had with CE1 and CE2, as this book is very simple and easy for them to understand. It has some nice animal vocabulary in it as well which I knew the CP pupils would enjoy, as well as the interactive parts. I read the book to the children in their three separate groups, which was easier for me as they can be very noisy as a whole class. I taught the children the new animal vocabulary and they repeated after me several times. I think they found the names for the animals quite entertaining, as there was a lot of hilarity at this point! After the story, I played lotto with them, as this seemed to be their favourite game that I had played with them. To my delight, the children knew the numbers in English very well, and rarely had to ask me for help, which showed how much progress they had made over 6 weeks. I also asked them one last time for their name, age and gender in English, and again, I could see a great improvement from when I taught them this on the first week. The children were adamant that they all got a photo taken with me and Madame Girault, so at the end of the lesson Jessica took this for us, which I thought was very kind of the class.