J’ai voulu donner la parole à Elliot et Abigaël pour nous raconter leurs expériences à l’école et au collège. Ils ont volontairement écrit en anglais. Elliot parle de ses progrès en français, des délicieux repas à la cantine et de la nourriture française en général (!), de son stage de voile puis du collège en particulier : plus de devoirs et de leçons à apprendre, mais aussi de son succès auprès de ses camarades qui lui demandent de l’aide en anglais ! Il s’amuse aussi un peu de la prononciation de l’anglais en France ! Il a participé à un spectacle du collège, où il a chanté (voir lien ci-dessous) et a été très applaudi des profs et des élèves ! Du coup maintenant tout le monde le connait, d’autant que c’est lui qui a commencé la mode du Rubik’s cuble il y a quelques mois ! Enfin, Elliot parle des BD françaises, qu’il apprécie bien, mais aussi des auteurs français qu’il a commencé à lire comme Victor Hugo, Guy de Maupassant ou encore Fred Vargas. Il dit que ça lui aura pris un peu de temps, mais maintenant la vie en France, c’est « super cool ».
Quant à Abigaël, elle explique qu’il n’y a pas d’uniforme à l’école et qu’elle ne travaille pas le mercredi après-midi, ni le samedi. Le mardi, ils ont « TAP », des activités organisées par la Mairie, comme de la voile, collection de timbres, VTT et même Espéranto ! A l’école elle a aussi fait de la dance, de l’acrosport, du handball, mais aussi des jeux de groupe comme « poules, renards, vipères » ou la tèque. Elle a mis un petit extrait de la dernière poésie qu’elle a dû apprendre de Charles Péguy, sur les châteaux de la Loire. Elle vient en effet d’y faire une visite avec sa classe. Elle a beaucoup apprécié et du coup est aussi devenue incollable sur la Renaissance ! Elle parle aussi de leurs projets de sciences et de la journée citoyenne. Elle veut aussi remercier sa maîtresse, Régine, qui l’a beaucoup aidée depuis la rentrée et elle finit en disant que, même si l’Angleterre lui manque, elle trouve la France « super ». N’hésitez pas à regarder les photos ci-dessous (celles des châteaux ne sont pas les miennes !) et les liens et si vous voulez une traduction plus en détails, envoyez-moi un message. Merci !
I thought I’d give Elliot and Abigaël the opportunity to tell us about their schools and school life in Brittany. Over to you guys! (Although many are mine, we borrowed some of the photos off the Internet!)
Throughout this journey, I have learnt a lot, let me tell you all about it!
Well, this is pretty much the obvious: ever since I was born my Mum spoke to me in French as I grew up, although when I went to school I wasn’t using my French-speaking skills very often, so I have found it very difficult to adapt into the language. But so far, I feel that I have learnt more French than I’ve had in my thirteen years of living in England, so I pretty much have the hang of it by now. Yes, there is still some difficulty with Grammar and Spelling, but I’m getting there.
I have found the French food amazing. I eat at the canteen at school, which consists of a 3-course meal with bread and cheese! We regularly eat steak, fish, chicken, beef bourguignon, it’s all delicious. Everything seems to have a different taste here, even if it is something you can get in England (well, it won’t always be the same make). And don’t think that I have been stuffing myself with snails because I have no intention to! Besides, I’ve found that the French only eat snails, crab, lobster or frog legs (as shown left!) in fancy restaurants or for special occasions, not on a daily basis. Here, we also have a real definition of our ‘daily bread’. Dad often likes to pop down into our local bakery to fetch a fresh baguette or two. And it’s so much nicer than the stuff you get in ASDA!
Sports has been extremely interesting: since we live on the coast I have signed up for a sailing club every Wednesday afternoons (we have no school Wednesday afternoons, ha ha!) and we do catamaran, windsurfing, optimist and kayaking when there’s no wind! I now know how to sail and I love it!
Handball is very popular here and all over France, as well as football, tennis and basketball. I practice of all these sports at school and I’m part of the Athletics after school club: I really enjoy long distance track and field. Turns out, I‘m one of the fastest boys in my year in the 100m and long distance thanks to my excellent training in the UK!
Collège (Y7-Y10 Secondary School) has been fun ever since I started. All my friends have been very welcoming. We’ve invented a handshake called ‘La Tèque’: two taps on the right hand, a fist bump, and then a dab. I’m pretty much famous among the entire school (with about 400 students and 50 members of staff). In the French learning program, I find myself doing more theory. For intense, we need to re-read and memorise our lessons so that at exam time, we wouldn’t fail one question. They even give us surprise tests! A lot of questions about England from numerous comrades have come my way, and many are asking help for their English exams, so it is quite hectic! I have also proved myself an expert in Scratch programming in ICT and have been able to help my fellow students. I have also started a craze in the school – The Rubik’s Cube. I began learning how to solve it in October 2016, and soon others began to follow. My record today with a professional speed-solver cube is 29 seconds! Others in my school have done 20-25 seconds for a 3×3, and one of my friends can solve it blindfolded in a minute!
I have taken part in a talent show organised by the school, called « Carte Blanche ». I sang Seven Years, by Lukas Graham. I was encouraged to join after many praised my voice and I am now even more popular at school! We were suprised that out of the songs or tunes played that evening, all were in English! Nowadays French indeed seem to love using English words in their everyday life, but the thing is when they try to speak it, it doesn’t sound right. For example, they say ‘Zee old oos’ for « the old house », can you imagine? Once, I spent half of the Art lesson trying to make my class and teacher say ‘The Remake Project’. They still haven’t got it!
French literature is a little challenging, but I enjoy a lot of the comics, (very good comics, I might add), including Tintin, Astérix, Lucky Luke, Les Légendaires and Les Tuniques Blues. I have also discovered some French authors like Guy de Maupassant, Victor Hugo or Théophile Gauthier. But also a more modern one like Fred Vargas (« Part vite et revient tard »). I really enjoy French music too: I am a fan of Black M, a French rapper of North African origin who became famous all over Europe with his first hit ‘Sur Ma Route‘. Google him to have a look ;-).
Altogether my adventure here has been incredible because of all that I’ve seen. I’ve learnt things that I’d never thought I would (like sailing for example). I’ve grown more confident and I feel bolder to try new things as a result. It’s taken me a while to settle in, but now living here is awesome!
This is Pollen, our local poney
First of all, in France, we don’t have uniforms, you can get dressed like you want. Sometimes, I prefer to have a uniform because some mornings, I don’t know what to wear!
In sports, we have done dance and Acrosport, drama, handball and outdoor group games like la tèque (sort of cricket) or « Poules, renards, vipères » (Hens, foxes, adders).
We also do a lot of free activitites which we call « Tap » on Tuesday afternoons, organised by the local council: so far I’ve done sailing, stamp collecting, mountain biking and I have even learnt a few words of Esperanto!
Wednesdays, we only have school in the morning and in some schools, they have school Saturdays too! Fortunately, I don’t! Now I am in a school with around 70 students! I like having a small school because you know everyone, it’s like a big family. I eat at the canteen at lunchtime and we have a 3-course meal every day. Once a month the meal is based on a fairy tale, for example for Cinderella we had pumpkin soup.
In my French school I have learnt a lot of Grammar (always on Mondays), to learn about the different elements of a sentence. We do conjugaison on Tuesday: in French, verbs change not only with tense, but also with each person who speaks, so there’s a lot to learn! On Thursday, we do Spelling and I have to learn a set of new words every week. Finally every Friday, we do Vocabulary, which teaches us how to choose the accurate word to describe what you want, for example: « whispering » or « yelling » instead of « speaking ».
We need to learn one poem by heart each month so I have learnt a few by now. Here is an extract:
« Le long du coteau courbe et des nobles vallées,
Les châteaux sont semés comme des reposoirs
Et dans la majesté des matins et des soirs,
La Loire et ses vassaux s’en vont par ses allées. » Charles Péguy « Les châteaux de la Loire »
We are also learning many songs at school and I have discovered the Kids United group: there are 5 singers aged 10 to 16 and they are a real phenomenon in France. They support Unicef.
As for Maths, I am actually ahead because I have already learnt how to multiply with decimals and to divide 3 figure numbers. Sometimes I still calculate in English, but I’m getting used to counting in French.
For a month we had a trainee teacher from University who came to teach us about plants: he brought some microscopes and we looked at leaves and petals and we learnt how they breathe. We also learnt that they take the carbone dioxyde in the sunrays and turn them into oxygen (photosynthesis).
Every time we start a new project our teacher Régine shows us a video of a French programme called « C’est pas sorcier ! » (It’s not rocket science!) We learn a lot through it as it is especially designed for chidren and they explain science with practical examples and jokes. For example, with the Loire chateaux, they show us how people used to dress and what they used to eat and how.
With Mummy and Elliot, we love how the French pronounce English words. For example « Star Wars » is pronounced « Staar Waarz » and they say « Gam of Trôn ».
One Friday with my class we went to see the local Waterworks plant, the Police station, the fire station and the War Memorial. My favourite bit was meeting the firemen because they told us how they deal with emergencies and we saw their equipement and vehicles and learnt what they were for. Their lorries were much bigger than in the UK and I think they are better equipped.
I recently went to Val de Loire with my classe of yr 5/6.We spent one night in Blois (but not in the castle!), I was a in bedroom with 3 other friends. We travelled by coach and it took us four hours to get there. I loved it and I can’t wait to go back with my family to discover some more! We went to see Chambord, Blois, Amboise and the Clos Lucé. Before we went, we learnt a lot of their corresponding period of history, « la Renaissance ». This has become my favourite subject because I have learnt a lot of interesting facts about it! In fact our guides couldn’t tell us that much because we already learnt a lot and they really enjoyed being with us!
Chambord is the biggest chateau of the Loire and was built in 1519:
François 1er (French king at the time) only built it to show off, he didn’t actually live in it. When at war in Italy, François 1er met Leonardo Da Vinci and invited him to live in France. He offered him to stay in le Clos Lucé chateau, where he could work in peace on his paintings and multiple inventions. There is a chance that Léonardo da Vinci actually designed Chambord before he died.
There is a famous painting of François-Guillaume Ménageot showing François 1er holding Leonardo on his death bed: actually, this is a legend because the king was not there at that time. There are 2 versions: either he was with his wife about to give birth in St Germain-en-Laye, or he was at the baptism of his son, Henri III, the future king! This painting has recently been brought back at Amboise castle, where Da Vinci died on May 2nd, 1519.
Amboise was built by Charles VIII on a hill to be able to see enemies coming, even though it wasn’t a chateau fort. There at 27 years old, Charles VIII died by bumping his head violently on a door. Unfortunately, today, a lot of Amboise has been destroyed.
In Clos Lucé, there were loads of little (and big) models of the machines Da Vinci invented: le pont tournant (swing bridge), la mitrailleuse (machine gun) etc… that we could play with. It was fun!
What is most spectacular about Blois, is that it is 4 different castles in one! The Charles VIII wing, the Louis XII wing, the François 1er wing and Gaston D’orléans’ wing. It used to be a chateau fort.
Overall, French school isn’t as bad as I thought it would be at first: I’ve made lots of friends and my teacher Régine helps me a lot to understand when I am struggling. I am becoming fluent in French and learning a lot. I still miss England but living in France is great!
I love our family bike rides!