The snow obviously had an impact on attendance last night at my English/French club (where I teach them English and they teach me French), as there were only five of us in attendance. We didn’t let the weather dampen our spirits though, and so Christian, one of the members of the group decided to take us on a cruise. Not literally (though that would have been nice), but rather via Christian’s holiday photographs from last December, which he displayed for us with a Powerpoint presentation.
He wasn’t just showing off though, he was actually using it as a learning tool – for himself and the other members of the group. What he had done – on nearly every photograph – was to put a subtitle describing what was going on – in English.
‘You must correct me though’ he said, just before we started to enjoy the ‘show’ ‘After all that is what you are here for’. The cruise had taken Christian and his wife around five of the Canary Islands and, despite looking a tad overcast, he had still taken some lovely shots. The interior of the ship itself – The Horizon – looked like it was ripped straight from the late 80s; lots of orange and brown. Seeming to notice this Christian pointed out that it was ‘Very dated inside – but it did the job’.
He had done very well with his subtitles, with just the odd spelling mistake here and there. One example of this was when he was trying to illustrate the fact that he was taking a picture of an island that was far away, he had put ‘Fareway, one island’. I explained to Christian, and the rest of the group, that fareway meant something else and that he could put ‘One faraway island’ or ‘Far away, one island’ (I also said that you could equally just put ‘A faraway island’, but then everybody got confused and started arguing with each other in French, so I dropped it).
The best correction of the night however came from a photograph he had taken on the island of La Palma. In the photograph, taken at the base of one of the mountains, in the crater of the volcano on La Palma, there is a statue of Christ. The subtitle accompanying this read ‘You can pray before on mount’.
I knew, as did the rest of the group, exactly what he was trying to convey – you can pray before you climb up/start your ascent. I then explained what ‘mount’ meant in English.
Now I know that there are other meanings for the word, but I decided to plump for the most basic one. So I then, using only my hands and a few sound effects, mimed a pair of horses ‘getting it on’. I’ve only been there three weeks, but I like to think I’m a fairly decent judge of what kind of ‘vibe’ a group has and, luckily, I’d judged this lot right. They didn’t throw me out of the class for this, but rather burst out laughing, immediately grasping the point.
I also spent a while at the end of the presentation explaining why ‘bog’ and ‘lav’ are nicknames for toilets in England. I doubt they will find my ‘lessons’ on the curriculum in any French school.