Fier d’être Moulinois

My hands were trembling and covered with white chalk dust and there was no space left on the board. Every inch was covered with words – words fresh from the mouths of my wonderful French students. They did so well this week, I could have kissed them – if I hadn’t promised the French government I wouldn’t.

Sometimes, everything just works. I’m starting to get an idea of my basic format now; I sandwich the boring, coursework-based activities in delicious slices of fun activities. Actually, it’s less like a sandwich and more like a Big Mac – I do a fun activity in the middle, too. The most important thing (the “mission” of assistants in France) is to motivate the students to talk, and that I think I can do. Most of the time.

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‘Ow is it – in Australia?

Halfway through a sentence and in the middle of teaching a class, I paused briefly and bit my lip to keep from laughing at what I was saying. I had just realised that – quite unintentionally – I was explaining to my students the best way to turn down a dinner invitation in English. I guess it’s true what they say about introverts.

Of course, the whole class wasn’t about that – this is English, not Introvert Boot Camp – and the French are pretty good at being introverts already without my help. “What do you do if someone invites you to dinner, but you don’t want to go?” is one of the dozen or so warmup questions that I have in my repertoire for getting the students talking before we move on to something more serious. Continue reading


I have a great desire for cordial, which is apparently insatiable in France.

It’s strange, the things which are and are not available in a foreign country. Sometimes they really take you by surprise. For example, breath mints appear to be absent from French grocery stores, as are any types of cordial not directly made from fruit syrup and – strangest of all – hot chips don’t seem to be a thing here. Fries are plentiful, and sometimes there are quite thick ones, but never quite what I would call “chips”. I discovered most of these things last time, but I still feel a mild sort of surprise at each encounter.  Continue reading