As part of my Comparative Education course, I spend an hour each week at a little school called the English Bubble. I help out as an assistant to the teacher, a British girl in her mid-twenties, with her class in creative English for 6-10 year olds. Since there are no classes on Wednesdays for French elementary schools, many families send their children to the English Bubble for a lesson in English each week. Although I’m not planning on becoming a teacher, I love working with the kids. It reminds me of my summers back home when I spend the majority of my time babysitting for two girls (which, as far as I’m concerned, is the best job ever).
To start each lesson, we sit in a circle and ask each other questions while throwing a ball around. The questions are simple – How are you? What is your name? How old are you? – but I am genuinely impressed by the students’ ability to communicate in English. When we asked the question “Where were you born?” the children seemed to be shocked that I was from the United States. It occurred to me later that they must not notice that their British teacher and I have completely different accents. After questions, we went over the days of the week, the months, and numbers. One teaching point that really stood out to me was the kids’ struggle with the “th” sound. This sound doesn’t exist in French the way it does in English, so the kids had a lot of trouble with the words “three” and “thank you.” They pronounced the number three more like “free” or “tree,” so their teacher had to explain that it was okay to literally stick your tongue out while saying the word.
For the second half of class, we made dream catchers. The teacher described how they “attrape les cauchemars.” While they were cutting out little circles and decorating them, one boy asked if he had to empty it out like a trash can when it became too full of nightmares. I couldn’t believe how clever this was! After decorating the circles, the teacher and I helped them tie the circles together and then add beads and feathers. While the kids worked, they talked about school, music, and television. For the most part, I’m able to follow along with their conversations but I rarely try to jump in. Regardless, I love spending time doing crafts with the kids and teaching them basic conversational English.
The first time I came home from the English Bubble, I couldn’t figure out how to take the bus so I decided I could just walk home. It was 7 pm, the sun was beginning to set, it was raining, and my apartment is easily over two miles away, so I’m not quite sure what I was thinking. I didn’t have a map and my iPhone doesn’t work without Wi-Fi here, but I seemed to think I could handle it. After I wandered around in the pouring rain for about an hour, I admitted to myself that my sense of direction had failed me again. I stumbled into a pharmacy, drenched and on the brink of tears, and told the woman “Ummm…je me suis perdue. Où est la Rotonde?” She pointed me in the direction of the Rotonde, the huge fountain from which I could find my way home. “Bon courage!” she called as I ran out. Finally, another half hour later, I made it safely back to my apartment. From now on, I’m learning how to take the bus.