I also encourage them to ask questions; where in England am I from? What’s it like over there? What is the weather like? Do we eat similar foods? What are the schools like over there? What do I think of the current situation vis-a-vis the ongoing problems facing the country following Brexit? etc. etc.
I also encourage them to ask questions regarding the language and how to ask questions, directions, what the days of the week are, general conversational matters and so on and so forth.
With that in mind, here are – in no particular order – the top ten questions I get asked:
‘How do you say ‘Bottom’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘Fart’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘*INSERT SLANG TERM FOR A PENIS HERE*’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘Poo’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘Boobs’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘Burp’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘You smell’ in English?’ (this one made me sniff my own armpits)
‘How do you say ‘*INSERT SLANG TERM FOR A VAGINA HERE*’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘*INSERT ANOTHER PUPIL’S NAME* smells’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘I don’t want a bath’ in English?’
Well, that’s the problem when you work with kids between the ages of seven and eleven – you might have lofty ambitions about what you want to achieve, but they’ll bring you back down to earth very, very quickly.
Today with the aid of a cartoon I tried to explain what The Outback was to the French kids in my English class.
Me (In English and French): ‘So all the people mostly live around the edges of Australia’
Me (In English and French): ‘They live around the edges because the centre – The Outback – is very, very hot’
Me (In English and French):’ As you can see on the cartoon, Velma, Daphne and Fred are wearing jumpers and thick clothing, that’s not realistic, you couldn’t do that in real life there as it’s too hot’
Me (in English and French):‘You’re just saying ‘d’accord’ so I’ll stop talking to you and let you finish watching the film, aren’t you?’
I’m back at school now, teaching the kids – not MY kids, although they are there, I mean the kids in general. This return has been a long time coming, thanks to that ever-present virus, and to be honest with you I wasn’t sure if I’d be going back at all.
Just to recap/fill you in – I’m an assistant at my local school and I teach the kids English – quelle surprise – teaching is maybe a bit grand as it’s more of a mixture between entertaining and teaching, but I do my best and we all usually have a laugh. I take the kids on before and after their dinner hour, the bigger kids first then the the little ones. So I get load of distracted, hungry big kids and then a load of full, lethargic little kids.
Most of the time.
I’m up against it though in terms of popularity, as my fellow ‘animateurs’ – as we are called here – are all French and so offer a variety of exciting activities liked painting Pokemon, creating little purses, crafting cuddly donkeys and one activity that simply involves going in the ‘room of fun’. So put that up against ‘English class’ and it’s not really a surprise that I’m usually the last girl at the dance. The other animateurs have queues for their activities, me? I have to get the security ladies to make them come along.
That only applies to the bigger kids though – the little kids are more than happy to come along and find my accent fascinating. Strange how kids can change in a year from all happy, eager smiles to grumpy and ‘cool’. Too cool for English anyway.
So yes I’m back but it’s a very different landscape to the one I was forced to leave due to being furloughed following the Corona outbreak (part one?). Now all the kids are regimented, separated into classes, kept apart and generally monitored to ensure they don’t interact with other groups too much.
Like a kind of health-conscious segregation.
It’s masks on all the time for me as well, which makes it so much easier for the kids to understand me.
There also seems to be a lot less kids in general, I don’t know if they are hiding away or if some parents have simply opted, in the current ‘climate of fear’ to go the home-schooling route. I used to be that you would have to fight your way across the school playground, fighting through the crowds with all the speed of a salmon swimming upstream, dodging running kids, footballs, hats, you name it. Now you can just stroll right through them, like their fun-factor has been drained away.
Children that did not keep up with their studies during this current crisis have suffered the worst though. There was the confinement period, which was followed by a brief return to school, which was then followed by the eight week holidays. Some parents have not helped their children maintain their education levels, and never returned – albeit briefly – when they could. As a result of this some children are having to repeat the year, or have even been relegated into lower-level classes. It’s not great to see – potential like that, squandered.
Still, my kids are there too and it’s really great to be able to see them in this environment. I often arrive early and so get the privilege of being able to watch my children play with their friends, unaware that I am watching them – the office has mirrored doors and windows. I look at it as a kind of aquarium, just one for kids.
They can be my bridge for the other children too, when a concept is too difficult for me to explain, or I simply don’t know the words, bilingual kids come in very handy, especially when they are your own. Just don’t rely on them in crucial situations like at the bank or when asking directions as they have a tendency to shut down in times of real need.
So yes, I’m back, for how long I don’t know, and I’m not saying that as a reflection of my abilities, more of the ever present threat Covid 19 poses. The landscape at school has changed, but whether these measures will be sufficient? Time will tell….
As part of my Scottish slang session this week I explained to a group of retired French people what the word ‘Dogging’* meant.
If you don’t know what dogging is then I will explain. It is the act of going to a car park frequented by people who enjoy having sex in their cars while being observed by others. It gets the name ‘dogging’ by the tendency of these observers to use a dog lead – sans the dog – to legitimise their presence there in the case of any unexpected visits from the local police e.g. ‘Honest officer, I wasn’t staring in this car window and masturbating, I was walking my dog. Look, I’ve even got a lead, and as soon as I do up my trousers I will go and find….err…Larry, yes, Larry, that’s definitely the name of my dog‘.
I went into great detail with my students about its origins, its popularity in the UK, as well as the rules that some of the ‘doggers’ employ when they are inside their cars; flashing the lights, dipping the beams etc to signify if they want ‘company’ or not. This was following my explanation of what a ‘boaby**’ is and why one should not ‘chug***’ on public transportation.
By the looks on some of their faces I could tell that this was a new thing for them, and something that many of them found somewhat disgusting. And some of them found hilarious. These looks also told me that it wasn’t prevalent in France.
Well, that and the fact that one of them said: ‘It’s not prevalent in France’.
In my defence I told them that in the previous (Yorkshire slang) session they had asked for Scottish slang to be the focus of our next class, and so only had themselves to blame. I firmly believe that many of them now think that I’m either A) Very thorough, particularly with my mimes of what a dogger is and how they operate, as well as being someone who is prepared to take risks with the content of the ‘coursework’ I give them or B) A pervert.
This firm belief has now been reinforced even more – with a distinct sway towards option ‘B’ – after I was informed by some Scottish friends that the term dogging, in Scotland anyway, actually refers to the far more innocent activity of ‘skiving****’ off school. For those who don’t know what skiving means, it is the act of not going to school when you should, and doing something else that you prefer, unbeknown to your parents.
So as you can see, sometimes using Wikis to source your information is not the most reliable means. That being said, I doubt we would have laughed quite as much if I had used the correct – and much more innocent – term.
I haven’t told them by the way, I figure I will just let them go on thinking it means what I said it does, if I drag it back up now they really will think I’m a pervert. Plus it may lead to some interesting interactions for them if they ever visit any Scottish schools: ‘Headmaster, can you tell me what those boys are in trouble for?’ ‘Why yes madame, they were all caught dogging yesterday!’.
*I appreciate the term ‘dogging’ is not unique to Scotland, however it didn’t come up in the Yorkshire slang handout, so perhaps that one needs updating
** A penis
**** Go on, someone tell me now that skiving does not mean what I said it does, and these days refers to something far more sinister and sexual, it wouldn’t surprise me
I’ve started teaching* English in my village to a group of French retirees. The lady who usually does it is the town-planner, so she’s often called into meetings, and for this reason my services were offered – not by me, but by one of her students – so I now take on her duties once every three weeks. Tuesday night was my first time in charge, here are a few excerpts from that evening.
I asked the group to tell me something they had done that week that they didn’t like. Three people said the same thing:
Denis: ‘I had to make some jam, but I didn’t like it’
Michelle: ‘I made jam, but I didn’t like doing it’
Francoise: ‘I made jam, 50 pots, but I didn’t like it’
Me: ‘Do you sell this jam?’
Me: ‘If you don’t like doing it, why don’t you just stop?’
All: ‘But the fruit will go bad’
Me: ‘So give the fruit to the animals, or people’
All: *blank stares*
On my teaching methods
‘Can you talk slower’
‘I can’t understand you, can you talk slower’
After saying a lengthy passage of text out loud
‘Can you write that on the board?’ (I do)
‘What is that? Is that a Russian character?’ (I’ve written my ‘h’s with a sloping bridge)
‘You keep dropping your ‘t’s, pronounce your ‘t’s’
‘Has he started talking slower?’
On my accent
Francoise: ‘Is he American? Are you American?’
Me: ‘No I’m from Yorkshire’
Francoise (frowning, turning to her friend Martine): ‘Is he American?’
Martine: ‘No, he’s from Yorkshire’
Francoise: ‘Oh yes, like the dogs, Yorkshire Terriers’
Apropos of nothing
Christine: ‘We had to get a new ram. It was having too much sex with the other sheep and would have messed up the gene pool. We bought another one’
On being asked what she did with the old one
Christine: ‘We killed it and ate it. Well, not all of it, most of it is in the freezer’
That’s just a snippet of the many things that were said that night. I loved doing it. Hopefully they did too. Can’t wait for the next class.
*The term teaching is used here in its loosest possible sense
I teach English to the French kids at my local school on Thursdays.
After they’d finished one of their exercises today (colouring the English days of the week on the petals of a flower in the corresponding English colours) they asked me what to do with the centre. I told them they could do what they wanted with it, get creative.
As you can see – and as they told me when I asked – some of them are really getting into the World Cup.
In the final part of my Belote guide I’m going to introduce you to the online app that allows you to play this game on a daily basis. I cannot emphasise this enough – if you want to get good at Belote USE THIS APP. It’s a fantastic, easy to use way of sharpening up your game and taking you from the player who gets on everyone’s nerves – because you keep forgetting the rules – to the player that people have to watch out for, because you’ve suddenly become much, much better.
The app can be found here is free to download, and can even be played while you are browsing Facebook. A word of warning on the ‘free’ part. Like all of these other free games there is a definite hint that you can, if you wish, spend money on this game through the process of buying more chips to play DO NOT DO THIS. I have been using this app to refine my game for the last few years, do you know how much I have spent? Nothing. Not a single penny.
The way to do this is easy. When you sign up for it you are given 2,000 chips to play. Each game you play ‘professionally’ that is, with other players, costs you 200 chips to ‘buy in’. You will then win 250 back if you are successful (so a 50 chip profit). There are different levels you can play at, where the stakes are higher, but stay on the ‘Relax’ level (that’s its name) and you won’t go far wrong.
Every day you go online and play, the app will invite you to ‘spin a wheel’ that grants you free chips. This can be anywhere from 100 – 400 chips (rarely 400 though). This helps to top up your chips for free. Another way of adding free chips is to ‘befriend’ other players during gameplay. This is not like adding friends on Facebook – they won’t suddenly start ‘liking’ your statuses. No, they are your friends on the Belote app, and that’s the only place they will see you, and you will see them.
These players can become your friends by simply hovering above their faces whilst playing – the options to add them are there. In the early days of playing I would say add as many players as you can. What happens then is each day these people can send you presents, and you can send them presents back. These presents take the form of chips and range from 11 – 18 chips (or so). These chips are not taken from your existing pot, but rather are a bonus amount that you have in seemingly infinite supply (but only to give as presents). This may not sound like much but if you have 20+ players sending you chips per day, coupled with the free spin each day and conservative play (stick to the relax level) you can see what I mean when I say you never have to spend a penny.
If you do ever run out of chips however there is the training mode of the game that you can fall back on, until you have enough chips from free spins and presents to get back in.
The training mode sees you pitted against three computer players, and costs you nothing. This is where you will start out on the app, before you are deemed good enough to move up to the relax level. I would strongly recommend you stay at this level – training that is – until you have enough confidence in yourself to play with real people on the relax level. each day you practice at this you will also be entitled to free spins, so do make the most of them.
If you do have the odd losing streak – and I’ve had more than my fair share of them – then simply turn it off and call it a day. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
If I had anything negative to say about the app it’s this – it will have the occasional glitch. This could be down to too many players, system updates etc I don’t know, I’m not a programmer. What this means though is that from time to time your game may freeze, other players may disappear and strange things may happen. Sometimes this passes, but sometimes it doesn’t and you will need to reset the game. Unfortunately this may often cost you your stake – so bye bye 200 chips. People have told me that you can complain on the Twitter feed of the game makers, and they will send you your chips plus extra for your time. I don’t know if this is true because, to be honest, I couldn’t be arsed with that – I just reset and reload. If it happens more than twice in a short period of time though then give it up for the day – there’s clearly an issue.
That’s about all you need to know about the app. In case you are wondering I have no stake in people clicking on the link to the game’s site. I get nothing back financially, and I am not affiliated with the creators in any way. I just recognise it for the fantastic learning tool that it is. Play it, learn from it, then take it and let it loose on your French friends – they won’t know what hit them!
So that’s all from my guide on how to play Belote. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and I hope it all made sense. I think that a combination of reading this guide, using the app and playing with friends, should be all you need to become a seasoned pro at Belote!