I quickly learned the difference between lecturing to university students (adults?) and children. For the latter, one has to have lots of activities. I already have lots of ideas. E.g. showing videos of ‘Frère Jacques’ or ‘La Danse des Cannards’, doing the dance, cutting things up, sticking things in books etc. I’m creating a new page on my web site with links to these if you want to indulge your inner child and ‘apprendre la langue.’
It’ll also have more adult stuff, though. Found this wonderful video of Gilbert Becaud singing ‘Nathalie’. He was one of my favourites when I was living in Neuchâtel, (Suisse). I learned a great deal of French from singing along to his songs and those of other artists – George Moustaki, Michèl Sardou, Jean-Jacques Goldman etc. ‘Nathalie’ is a great way to get students familiar with French pronunciation, especially the ‘a’ which is not ‘ay’ but a short ‘ah’. It is set in 1968 (anti-capitalist student protest time) and is about a French student (Becaud) who visits Moscow and meets and falls in love with Nathalie who becomes his guide (pronounced ‘geed’). Check it out on the link below.
That was Tuesday morning. Tuesday evening I had my first adult class. Four of them. It reminded me of how easily teaching comes to me and how much I enjoy it. It also reminded me to slow down and focus on the basics. With the exception of Christine, a Scottish lady, they know no French at all. Not even ‘Comment ca va?’ or ‘Comment allez vous?’ On Thursday, I had Jo-Ann and her two sons (aged 10 and 14). They’re also home-schooled and have learned some French through the internet. Over the years, I’ve learned to be more patient, slow down and reduce my expectations of others. With the Woodstock children I got through a tenth of what I intended to and with the adults, we managed only one page of ten I’d prepared.
In between all this ‘Francais’, I went to Muizenberg to visit Tracey Farren. She had her first novel (Whiplash) published about two years ago and I was interested to learn about her experiences. Muizenberg lived up to its reputation – windy, sandy and full of surfing types. Tracey had chosen ‘Coffee Sha-bean’ for our meeting which, as the name suggests, has an African feel and flavour to it. Yet only the waiters were Africans, the customers were mainly ex-hippies and one half of the shop was a surf shop.
We talked for two hours solid, without a break. ‘Whiplash’ is about a prostitute who walks the Muizenberg streets and her struggle to survive. It was published by Modjaji Books under Colleen Higgs and the distributor was ‘Blue Weaver’. Maire Fischer was the editor. Maire has also been helping me with my book (on a freelance basis) and Tracey and I commiserated about the many re-writes we’ve had to do. We both realise it’s important but at the same time very hurtful when you are told to get rid of a character or reduce your text by 50 thousand words!
Tracey says Modjaji provided her with fantastic publicity. They employed Beryl Eichenberger from ‘Hippo Communication’. Beryl is one of my ex-writing mates in the Anne Schuster class. Check out an excerpt from Tracey’s book at: http://book.co.za/blog/2008/05/22/book-excerpt-whiplash-by-tracey-farren/
I have also been dealing with estate agents – quelle horreur ! But more about that later.
I think you’ll agree, a complex yet interesting week! Can’t wait to do more teaching next week. And when I get feedback from my readers on my third draft, I might actually do some writing!
Link to Gilbert Becaud’s Nathalie:
The French Resources page is now up.