I am now on Christmas Vacation and went snowboarding today at Les 7 Laux. I’m sore all over and very tired, but it was lots of fun. Anyway, more on that in another post.
I’ve written a lot about travel and life in France, but I haven’t actually blogged much about my job here: teaching 5-12 year-old French kids the English language (or a few songs in it). I’ve talked about Pont de l’Isère, Jules Vallès, and La Roche de Glun, although not in any great detail. You might be wondering, do they exist, or are they spooks? So I’m going to make a post about each of my schools, starting with the primary school of La Roche de Glun.
La Roche de Glun is a commune, meaning that it is at the lowest level of administration in the French government, kind of like a municipality in the States. It only has a little over 3,000 people, so the school is likewise pretty small. I work with six different classes, each 30 minutes long. La Roche de Glun is incredibly charming, with tiny winding streets on an island in the Rhône river. Most of the architecture in the center of town dates from the 1300’s to the 1500’s.
There is no train station, so I catch the bus at 7:50 am. The commune isn’t on the bus route unless requested, so I had to ask for it come on the days I teach and I’m the only person it ever picks up after I’m done with school. Speaking of this bus stop, the last day of class before Christmas break I was waiting for the bus as usual and heard my name being screamed by about a hundred French children. (Alleeesssonnn.) The entire school was returning from a Christmas lunch and each of the students walked past me and wished me a Bonnes Vacances or Joyeux Noël. It was adorable.
The whole of La Roche de Glun used to be surrounded by a wall, with two entrances, one being La Porte de Rousillon (above) which is still standing. It’s grown out from there and most of the town lives in the houses outside of the original city or up in the mountains or in the country. The teachers I work with seem to live either extremely close to the school (across the street) or in the middle of the countryside at places that are vaguely referred to as “the orchard” or “the farm.” All of the kids are pretty easy to work with and are sometimes almost eerily quiet when I’m doing my lessons.
The school itself is also old and charming; it even has a room with a fireplace on the top floor and a real school bell outside. I haven’t figured out how it always gets rung at the right time, as a student does it and it doesn’t seem to always be the same one. Maybe they all take turns. I’ll have to ask. The extension to the school is newer and has a lot of big windows, which seem to be distracting for the kids but at least they let some light in.
I worked with the younger CP, CE1, and CE2 kids (5 to 8-years-old) this semester and I’ll be working with the older students next semester. Most of my work seems to revolve around songs, and I don’t think I can even think about “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” after literally teaching it to 13 different classes last week. Anyway, it’s always a challenge to make things like “family members” and “colors” into a game, but it’s what I have to do to get them to pay attention. For example, to practice numbers we played the card game “War” and for Christmas we all worked on a Christmas tree on the board using colors and shapes. Ex: “Draw one, big green triangle,” “Draw one yellow star,” etc.
So there you have an idea of La Roche de Glun, where I spend my Fridays. It’s going to be nice to have a couple weeks off, although winter holidays made it easy in terms of lessons. Speaking of which, France just keeps getting more festive and there were pseudo-marching bands and a Christmas market last night in Valence. It’s been sad with a lot of assistants and friends going home for the holidays, but I think my Christmas in France will be a charming experience.