This week was my time to observe the classes I’ll be assisting this year (usually by taking out small groups to work on conversation and oral comprehension). Most of the teachers wanted me to introduce myself and then wait (…and wait) for the kids to ask questions. This went better in some classes than in others. Some classes cut to the chase:
“How old are you?”–For the high-schoolers, “I’ll tell you at the end of the year, but I’m not in university anymore.”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”–“No” (Avoid eye contact with ANY of the boys)
We were told to anticipate these personal questions and also not to let them know that Emily and I are in fact living in the boarding school, a few floors below the girls who board. That didn’t go so well for Emily, who was sold out by a teacher who didn’t realize our residence is under wraps and made a face when Emily vaguely referred to an apartment ‘in Gap.’ To be fair, it wasn’t a well-kept secret. If the baguettes and cereal boxes we carried under our arms walking through the courtyard at midday weren’t obvious enough, we made an appearance the other night at a boarding school fire drill. We came out sheepishly at 9:30pm, desperately avoiding looking at any of our pajama-ed (or shirtless, for some of the boys) students and laughing nervously when the principal asked us if we wanted to go join our camarades. That would be a ‘no.’ (Thankfully, the principal realized his mistake.)
There were some questions that I didn’t expect, but maybe should have: “How do you feel about the World Trade Center?”, “Do you like Obama?”, “Have you ever seen a star?” (as in a celebrity, because I mentioned my dad works in New York). Unfortunately, no one here, much less anyone under the age of 25, knows who Ted Danson is–“but I promise, I was so excited.” Another favorite was “What words do you know in French?”, to which I so wanted to reply with either “All of them!” or “croissant…fromage…pain…rendez-vous…escargots…”
With my youngest students, 13- and 14-year-olds, I got to discuss my favorite athletes. After saying my favorite tennis player is Rafael Nadal and acknowledging that he’s not well-liked in France, the teacher said “Really? You think so?”, at which the class promptly began to grumble. At least I know enough to mention my admiration for Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils…how do you say ‘pandering’ in French? I was hesitant to mention how disappointed I was by the French showing in South Africa for the World Cup, but it turns out the French aren’t so different from Philly sports fans. Just because you’re the home team, doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.
More later, vacation starts in a week! MB