Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Joys of Magnetic Board Rubbers

You know how, in my last post, I said I'd try to post again before the end of the week? Well, fail.

But I'm back now, and that's what's important. (Unless, of course, no-one's reading this because you've all abandoned me from the lack of posts. In which case, come back! Please!) It's been a tricky week for me, for various reasons, so thankfully I've had plenty of things going on to keep me busy.

Now, I know of at least a couple of people who will flay me alive if I don't mention this on the blog, so ... I went to Paris last weekend. It was an extremely serene experience, and one which did not in any way involve going to the wrong train station, arriving there at the wrong time, and having to get a train to Disneyland Paris followed by the RER into the middle of the city.

Speaking of which, Disneyland Paris is weird. As soon as you leave the station platforms, you can see the monumental shadows of the park buildings through the windows, like some sort of monster threatening to devour the station. (Not that I'd know, of course. I've never been there.)

Finally, though, I managed to meet up with a friend of mine, who's studying at the Sorbonne on his Year Abroad. He's writing an excellent blog about the experience, which you can find here; it always reminds me how different our Years Abroad must be, even though we're within 45 minutes' train journey of each other. Courtesy of him, I got the full tour of Meudon, including a brasserie offering what was almost certainly the best couscous ever. Seriously, it was immense. The following morning, we met up again and headed into the middle of the city. We had lunch at one of the restaurants universitaires, before walking past the Champs-Élysées and onto the Petit palais. This was an art gallery where we'd arranged to meet some family friends, who happened to be passing through the city. We spent a lovely afternoon in the coffee shop there, talking about language learning techniques (thanks to Sue, the French teacher), before I headed back to Reims to take my classes on Monday.

In fact, those discussions we had in the coffee shop seem to have given my language teaching a real boost. One interesting thing of note was the principle that students prefer to talk about each other, rather than themselves; this makes quite a lot of sense when you think about it, especially if they have spent year after year answering the same questions of 'how old are you?', 'where are you from?', et ainsi de suite. With that in mind, I shook things up a little during my lesson about presenting yourself. Instead of asking pupils to tell me about themselves, I asked everyone to pick one other student in the class, and then describe them, with the others having to guess who it was. This of course has an additional benefit: it involves everyone, rather than just one person talking while all the other students fall asleep! *

Aside from that, though, my lessons this week have been fairly nondescript. Because I only have small groups of students at a time, and because I only see most classes once per week, I have to give the same lesson multiple times to different sections of a full class. That's meant that almost all the lessons that I've delivered this week were ones that I'd already done at least once; while that gave me plenty of opportunity to make changes where necessary, it wasn't exactly exciting (with the exception of the one new lesson I've made this week, which is for the premières and involved approximately half an hour of guillotining paper beforehand). Thankfully, next week sees me start at least some of those cycles again, so I'll have some new material to deliver. At least one of those lessons will be on superheroes, and thanks to another friend of mine I've been inspired to show my students clips from Avengers Assemble ...

Since it's Wednesday today, that also means that I went back to Régates rémoises. But not to cox, as it turned out - because crews haven't been set yet, I was asked to sub into a boat as a rower. Which was fine. I admit that sculling with three sixteen-year-old girls was not quite what I'd expected, but I didn't do anything too badly wrong. I've now got all the forms to join the club, and there's just the small matter of filling them all in. (This may take a while.) For the moment, I've been invited back regularly, which I can only assume means that they haven't seen me break anything yet.

All of this, though, pales in comparison to my most exciting news of the week. Since I arrived, I've been accumulating a collection of teaching tools: board pens, epic archiving systems (should I do a post dedicated entirely to my new folders?), and so on. Well, today the icing on the cake arrived. It's a magnetic board rubber.

I am inordinately excited about this. I mean, it sticks to anything! Look!


Exciting, eh? And guess what? Today's open question continues this theme:

* Oh, and Sue - would you be able to send me those links please? You can just leave a comment below, if you like.


  1. Have you thought of sticking it on one of those whiteboard things while you are teaching? You never know - it might be good for rubbing things out, too.

  2. Amazingly enough, it does indeed stick to a whiteboard thing! And rather well, too.

  3. Hi Edward
    Glad to hear our language learning café chat was useful! We are just back from our week in France, and I have found the following link for you:
    This is the blog of the Professional Development Consortium in MFL. Suzanne Graham and Ernesto Macaro of Reading and Oxford Universities ran a very inspiring workshop that I attended in May this year. In particular I suggest you have a look at the 'about' section for details of their research work, the 'principles' section for an outline of the eight key principles of effective language teaching and learning, and the 'other resources' section where you can download powerpoints from the workshops e.g. the 'oral interaction workshop' (focus on slide 18 onwards) which might be interesting for you to reflect on for your lessons! Enjoy.