About a month and a half to two months ago, I decided to do a pen pal letter exchange with two of my classes here in France with some classes back in the States. My classes have only written two letters so far, because it does take much time for them to be sent. Not only do I enjoy this because it’s a great way for them to improve their written English, learning new vocabulary and improving their grammar, but it’s also a great way for them to directly learn about my home culture.
Many of them really enjoy it. They absolutely love meeting someone who is very different from them in some ways but also very much alike in others. It’s a fantastic way for them to have their minds opened up a little more about the world.
However, they aren’t the only ones that are enjoying the process. As their English assistant, it greatly delights me to see them so excited about using their English skills to have cultural exchanges. I really feel like I’m succeeding in getting them excited about learning my native language and about my native culture. However, I’d be lying if I said that this is the only reason I’m enjoying it. No, I also copy the letters that they’ve written before I send them to the States so that I can correct their spelling, their grammar, their vocabulary, and their syntax. After all, they need to see where they’ve made their mistakes, but what I absolutely love the most about this experience is getting to see their minds in action, trying to use English to the best of their ability. Sometimes though, it comes out super funky and provides some of the absolute best laughs. So, I wanted to share some prime examples for all of you back home. Maybe it will give you some laughs too.
Example #1: My students absolutely love to give their usernames for all of the their different social media: ”Do you have network? I’ve facebook, instagram, and I’m ashamed of my snap. Oh My God, it’s horrible!” I’m not sure what this particular student meant by that, but it did give me a good laugh.
Another social media example: ”If you want to see my face, I’m subscribe on Facebook with my name.” or another variation from a different student: ”I you whant see my face, I subscrite on Facebook with my name.”
Example #2: When talking about their siblings: ”I have one sister, and her name is….She is a stool pigeon and a show off.” I wonder where they get these things.
Example #3: When talking about traveling: ”I want to visit so much country who Australia and Thailand.” ”Do you go in France often?”
Example #4: When talking about pets: ”I have a little cat red.” ”And my three cats called Coquette, Brioche, Bouboaille. The best names for all the animals.”
Not only are sentences such as these entertaining, but I think I laugh so much because it reminds me of what I was like when I was their age trying to learn French. I can only imagine the type of things I said in French when I was 15 years old, trying to express myself in a foreign language.
I really find joy in my job, not only because my students make me laugh because of what they say or their thoughts about certain subjects, but I can really see how much they are trying. I can really see where I’m making a difference in their learning, getting them excited about getting better at their English and wanting to learn about someone else from a different culture. It makes me feel as though I am succeeding at the job that I came here to do.
I can leave at the end of my contract knowing that I came here to do what I intended, knowing that I did make a difference, even if it was something as little as telling them that we don’t actually say things like that in that way in English.
I’m really loving this adventure every day, especially when it provides some laughter.