Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Photos & holiday course

Couple of photos from my walk along the Prom the other day, then photos from the Cap d'Antibes

Funny-coloured (presumably sandy) sea at Nice

The beach at Nice

View of the Baie des Anges, Nice

Little castely thing in the sea on the Cap d'Antibes

Coastal rocks on the Cap d'Antibes mimic the Alps behind them

Looking across the bay at Antibes to the Alps

More Alps

The Alps seen from the beach at Antibes

So today was my first day teaching the 'intensive' holiday course, which is taking place not at my school but at a Lycée Professional. My school is a general high school i.e. normal academic subjects like literature, English, business, science, philosophy etc. This is a vocational school - the students I talked to are studying things like to be a mechanic, receptionist/secretary, fashion, to work in social services or freight handling (seriously). I'm not sure if I agree with funnelling kids into a vocation from the age of 15 or whatever, but maybe it's a way to keep kids in education who in NZ or wherever would just drop out as soon as they could and go work or do an apprenticeship anyway. Most of the kids at my school (which is supposedly one of the best in Nice) are white, whereas nearly all these kids were Arab. I couldn't help but wonder (and shoot me if I sound any more like Carrie from Sex and the City) whether this was a result of institutional racism, or the effect of their parents maybe not having the best jobs or the best education, or if it was just a coincidence. I mean, I could be completely wrong - this is a voluntary course, so maybe there are tons of white kids at the school and turns out the kids of Arab descent are the only ones motivated enough to turn up in their school holidays. And maybe this is just me being a huge snob anyway - of course I do believe in education, but the world needs mechanics and plumbers and receptionists and if the kids want to do this then good luck to them, and they've probably got a good chance of earning a damn sight more money than I'll ever see with my two Masters degrees!

Anyway, politics aside, on the whole these kids' English was baaaaaad. I started out talking to the first group how I'd talk to any of my classes - that is, slowly and clearly of course but not crazily so. Turns out they didn't understand pretty much anything. Things like "do you like English" (no, usually), "why don't you like English?" were a real struggle for them, not just in terms of answering the questions, but understanding them too. So I was pretty proud of myself that I abandoned the plans I had and we played a game (I had 4 different 40 minute sessions with about 6 kids each time) that worked pretty well and I think they even enjoyed, judging from the squeals and laughter. It was the game where you have one less chair than there are people and you have to say something like "switch chairs if you're wearing a necklace" and everyone has to get up and you try to steal their seat and the last one standing has to do the next round. Was sliiightly alarmed that someone was going to end up cracking their head open in the fight for a chair, but it went pretty well I think, we all had fun including me.

Tomorrow I think I'll do a song with them, and then there are 3 students who came from my school and whoever's running the programme has decided to send them to me by themselves for the second half of the morning, because they are obviously at a higher level than the lycée professional students, so I'll work with them on a bit more advanced stuff.

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