Bonjour enfants!

Today I was part of the French Café project. Basically a group of Year of Sevens go to a first school and some kids serve the kids food and others hold a quiz and the better mor intelligent and fabulous ones are teachers. (Guess which I was!!! 🙂 )

I swear that they deliberately put the classes in order of nice, a bit on the bad side of right, and EVIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The first class we went in and the kids were giggling, so I said “Welcome to our French Lesson, I’m ********** [I cannot reveal my identity] this is Laurel and this Rachel. Now no giggling, this lesson is deathly serious … Now let’s meet some toy animals!!!”

Laurel brought out an otter

“That doesn’t look mean!” cried a kid in the audience. We explained to the kid that they weren’t supposed to be mean.

Laurel pulls out an octopus

“That doesn’t look dangerous!” cried the same kid. We explained to him that it wasn’t supposed to be dangerous or mean. That we had never implied in any way that these animals were anything less that good honest upright citizens and we had no idea where he got the impression that they were anything less.

“But you said they were deadly serious!” It took a while to explain to him that it was just a joke.

We did some repetition.

Like with hippopotame (the French for hippopotamus)  I’d hold out the cuddly toy version and say


The kids would then begin by saying


But gradually get louder as they were told to repeat.

Next Laurel and Rachel did their song. Unfortunately they fell apart when they heard I wasn’t to sing with them.

Lesson one: They sang it quietly.

Lesson two: They begged to not have to do it.

Lesson three: They didn’t do it.

Then we did animal charades.

The thing with French is that when you get down to it, you are repeating words that sound funny to you, but mean things across the channel. All with the knowledge that across the channel people will tell you everybody speaks English.

They tell you that the French start learning English at the age of four and are brilliant at it, and so clearly have just invented these funny, difficult to pronounce words and speak them to each other specifically to spite us. This is False.

I once had a conversation with some French teenagers, late teens, and all they could say was “You are English?” That was it. And when I tried to speak French they asked me again, obviously thinking we couldn’t possibly be that good.

Anyway, so French on it’s own is a bit boring. That is why it is important to incorporate songs and games. This game was called:

‘Animal Charades’! This game is very simple.

One person acts like an animal (though in the second and third classes we took great pains to stress it had to be either a crocodile, a unicorn, a hippo, an otter, a bear or an octopus. In other words one of the animals on the table. We did this because in the first class a child had come up without hesitation, though for a while and then began to act like a monkey.)

The next classes went through the same thing except for two differences.

  1. We introduced a new game. Rachel and Laurel’s idea. I hold up an animal and they say it’s name in English, then they throw a tennis ball and the kid who catches it has to say the name in French. (Why would they do such a thing you ask? For points! All games were played Boys vs. Girls, though admittedly this games’ scoring system was a tad more erratic.) But then they reversed it so the kid had to say the word in English. This was bad because it went from ‘translate the French word to English’ to ‘say the name of the animal the girl is holding.’
  2. I got bored with the above game and suggested a vote, more this game or another round of animal charades. Both times it was met with a groan of ‘Animal Charades’ (everything said by a group in a classroom comes out as either a groan eg. Good-mor-ning-mi-siss-stereotypical teacher, or a roar eg.


The length of the words often depends whether the answer is a roar or a groan, but also who is speaking bears a minor importance. A funny man in a comic pantomime will get a roar, but a teacher, who might be irritated with a roar, will get a groan.)

There was a loudmouthed kid in each class, there are distinct classes of loudmouthed kid (no pun intended) Here they are listed with ways to deal with them:

The Excited one: This is one we had in our first class. The ‘deadly serious’ kid. This kid is just so excited about his question or comment, and so worried that you will overlook him, that he tends to blurt it out. Other less serious cases (we found such cases in all our classes) involve the child desperate to volunteer that they either stand up, flap their arm around, or giggle/squeak. Being one of these myself (while I understand it can be irritating) I feel obliged to put in an excuse so as to not seem hypocritical. I do this because I have been left standing and I have been over-looked (usually when I’m asking difficult questions!) To deal with the minor cases I used the phrase “I won’t pick anyone who is laughing like a maniac, or squeaking like a mouse.) With the severe cases just wait, they’ll grow out of it (as I did) but trust me, a kid this animated, you should keep on the right side of him so he’ll give you a good review in his autobiography.

The Obnoxious one: This kid has criticism and don’t care who knows it. Not constructive criticism either, one question I was asked  when picking who should guess what animal a kid was acting like was “Why do you get to choose?” I explain to the kid that we were teaching the class he replied with “You’re not a teacher, you’re just a kid!” To deal with him I suggest: Discipline! Seriously these teachers can keep kids in, phone parents, write a note in your file (it may seem your getting off lightly, but teachers honestly believe that if they write in our files ‘Fred got caught talking in class’ or ‘Molly punched Bill in the arm’ in twenty years they’ll be walking by with their grandchildren when they’ll see someone with a pathetic job (like dog poo picker-upper, or chewing-gum salvager, or even a teacher.) And they’ll look up and say “Wait a minute, Douglass Grimwater! What are you doing picking up dog poo? You had a bright carreeer as a buissness man ahead of you! Did you fail all your tests?”

“No sir straight A’s”

“Start drinking?”

“Nope, don’t touch the stuff.”

“Take to a life of crime?”


“Then why aren’t you successful?”

“Nobody will hire me sir. In year three I was caught daydreaming during a spelling test.”)

Anyway, we have, get this, as a discipline tool ….. drumroll…..


Not a sausage.

But wait I hear you say! What about the teachers in the room?

Utterly useless.

What kind of kid is honestly going to respond to say these stern scoldings.

“*********** [cannot reveal my name] ignore him, pay no attention”

“You’ll have to go outside if you can’t behave” (followed swiftly by humming and pretending-it’s-not-happening when he calls out again.)

The sniggerer: This was in the third class. There were a few of these, but the worst was Laurel’s brother. These kids giggle a lot like the Excited one, but they are giggling at you. They are sniggering.

The parallel to this is going to your work/school, when you see some people talking and laughing. You go over to see if you can share the joke and everyone stops laughing and looks shifty. When you  walk off they point and start laughing again.

These kids see no reason why they should respect you. They are above recognising you as someone who maybe they should listen to. Or at least not distract other people from listening to.

Still it was fun!


PS It took me three days to write this, Enjoy!


2 comments on “Bonjour enfants!

  1. Mummy says:

    Like 🙂

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