Funday Angel

My life as a language assistant in France is just beginning, and this week we taught at two different schools for what’s called a “fun day.” It’s a special day set aside where we come in and teach English activties like storytelling, indoor games, dancing, arts and crafts, taste testing, and more all day. Every schools fun day is set up a little differently and each time we are given a chance to teach new things. They usually last the whole day and involve a long commute for us assistants, but since they occur only once in awhile it’s not so bad.

This Thursday a group of language assistants and I went to a school in Montpellier for their fun day and it was truly a lovely experience! I had to wake up at 6am, take 2 trams, and walk 20 minutes to get to the school, but I would say it was definitely worth it for what lay in store.

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At 8:10 I arrived at the school, and just from looking at their adorable countryard I could tell I was going to love this day! It turned out to be the cutest school full of a warm staff and delightful children. I was so excited to be there! To make it even better we all got nametags saying we were the “funday angels” and that alone made me light up inside.

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The fun day started outside in the front of the school where all the children were grouped in various teams: for example, the “London Rabbits” from England and the “American Eagles” from the U.S.A. It was so cute! The school director said a few words and then we all got to introduce ourselves saying our name and where we were from. You could just sense the kids excitement! Then two kids from each team held up a sign with their team name and made their way to the front of the audience toward the microphone. Thus began a song that went something like this: (IN English! I thought it was so impressive for children in primary school to do this.)

“…it’s fun day today, hoorah, hoorah, hoorah!”

It was probably the cutest thing ever and reminded me of being back in elementary school myself. I really fell in love with their school and was thrilled to play an important part in their special day.

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A beautiful mosaic of Le Petit Prince near the playground

My job of the day was the dancing “atelier” or workshop. I had learned the choreography for Thriller by Michael Jackson from Youtube videos and was somewhat prepared to teach it to the kids. Luckily, I was paired up with another assistant, Andria, and we ended up making a great team!

For the first half of the day, we got three groups: the Koalas, Foxes, and Tigers. It went a little something like this:

Me: “Hello everybody! I’m Mikaela and today we are going to learn a dance called Thriller by Michael Jackson!”

Literally 1 kid every time: “Ooh Michael Jackson!!!” (In the cutest accent ever. I guess they are cultured.)

From here we told the kids to form 2 lines and spread out using their hands and arms like a bird.

Andria: “First, can everybody show me their hands? Where are those? Now show me your right hand! Left hand! Right, left, right…” and so on.

Me: “Okay now everyone show me what forward looks like! And now backwards!”

We did this so the kids could understand the basic choreography, and on fun days they are supposed to be learning and exposed to as much English as they can be! French was only used if it really had to be, but I’ve heard full immersion is the most effective!

From here we taught each dance move step by step and slowly pieced together the whole dance. I noticed that the kids caught on quickly and had fun with it. I was glad to be teaching something where the kids remain active so you don’t get any problems with anyone being ansty!

We then showed them how to act like a zombie and everyone got really into it.

Andria: “Ok so who knows what dead is?”

A few kids every time: “Mort!”

Andria: “Ok good so everyone is going to lie down on the ground and act dead, and when the music starts, you’re going to slowly rise and turn into a zombie!” Comme ça!

So that’s how we taught the kids the dance and it really turned out great every time. The kids listened, had fun, and were fast learners. I may know nothing about dancing or choreography, but I can be proud to say that now I confidently know the Thriller dance. (At least the kid version).

We ended our workshop with a circle where one kid stands in the middle and shows a dance move and then everyone repeats it. It was a good way to stir up some creativity, allow some freedom, and get any last minute jitters out of their systems before the station rotation.

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Right before lunch after the kids had finished their morning workshops, an assistant got the chance to visit a classroom and get asked a bunch of questions by the kids themselves! I was so excited to do this but was definitely more overwhelmed than I thought I’d be. The kids were stoked to ask me things from what sports I like, to differences and similarities between French and American schools. I was told I could speak in French but wasn’t expecting this so I blanked on so many words! Even though I’m only 22, it has been quite awhile since I’ve been at an elementary school and I definitely need to be more prepared next time and think back on my past experiences at elementary school.

At noon, the kids all went to lunch and the assistants were treated to an entire meal with the teachers! Lunch break is 2 hours long and the staff had ordered us pizzas, baked cakes, prepared appetizers, and all for everyone to enjoy. It was so kind of them and we all sat in one classroom with the little kids tables pushed together making a place for the dejeuner. There was even wine provided and it couldn’t have been more perfect!

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A French classroom!

There was only one more station after the lunch and one more time through singing the group song in the front courtyard, but I ended the day helping a nice, young teacher with a taste testing of some “American” treats. There were little pieces of white bread with peanut butter on it, shortbread cookies, and a spoonful of marshmallow fluff. The kids got to try each thing and the overall consensus was that the fluff was the best! I’d definitely have to differ, but it was interesting hearing their opinions. Nonetheless, this was a very different goûter than normal! 😉 (Goûter is the very disciplined and followed midday snack for French kids typically consisting of biscuits/cookies).

 

Overall, I’m so glad one of my first experiences as a TAPIF language assistant went well, which really has me excited of whats more to come! I officially start teaching my own classes November 6th so wish me luck with my first ever lesson planning! Should I go by Miss Mikaela or Miss Schneider? Thoughts?

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