Know the song ? One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow … OK so it is one woman here and not one man but other than that, spare a moment or two to think about mowing the lawn.
My dear late dad was a stickler for a straight line on the lawn. It was his life’s work – or that is how it felt to me, as a kid. Now that my boys have flown the nest, mowing the lawn is back down to my husband and me and today, for the first time in over ten years, I turned my hand to mowing the lawn. Well, if my dad is looking down on my efforts, I hope he can spot my attempts at a straight line. Lines are so much better than circular, in my humble opinion. And whilst you are concentrating on that, well, you don’t have much head space for anything else, so it is great for helping to forget about whatever else you had been worrying about up until then !! So, as the sun shines and the rain falls, let it grow, let it grow, let it grow !!
Judith Kerr, author of the wonderful Mog stories and also of “The Tiger who came to tea” and “When Hitler stole pink rabbit” was firmly on my bookcase as a child (and still today !!). She has sadly passed away, aged 95. You can read about her life in this obituary in The Guardian. Check out her books – lovely and warming. And hopefully many of my primary trainees (and perhaps their own pupils) will remember Mog’s Christmas Calamity !!
Christmas and New Year are great fun, but once the party is over, the party poppers have all popped and the balloons have all deflated, it is our task, as teachers, to get the students back to work. We all know it is a hard slog to get back into work mode after a two week holiday and I have always found the Christmas holidays particularly arduous as the very nature of the break means we switch out of our usual routine.
As a child, I always ended up in tears on the night of December 25th, having been worn out by the excitement , the hype and the anticipation, the thought of it all being over for a whole year was just too much to bear. Of course, Christmas holidays are not like that for everyone. I did, obviously, grow out of it and I promise I did not cry this year at Christmas – well, not for that reason anyway !!
Back to school for teachers and back to school for pupils. The majority of kids will not have thought about school for two weeks and will have switched out of school mode completely. Our job is to get them back in school mode. Not an easy order !! Especially when we are struggling with it ourselves !!
I always advise my trainees to start off after Xmas as we started in September – brisk, business-like and as you mean to go on. I would advise giving homework from the get-go, as you did in September. This indicates firmly that the holidays are now OVER and it is time to get back into work mode. February half term will come round very quickly and after that, time flies by until the end of the year, particularly in lycées.
You can afford not to start a full-on sequence right on the first day back. Why not take some time to talk about what kids did over the holidays ? Of course, not all our pupils will have been celebrating Christmas, but they have all had two weeks off from school. What did they do ? This is an ideal opportunity to work on the simple past. My collège group, do you remember the Christmas with David Beckham that we worked on ? We worked on a powerpoint with Pat, Rod (or was it Bud) and Astrid. This would be ideal.
Diary Verbs – after the Christmas break could be an ideal time to introduce Diary Verbs. We discussed this in the collège group.
Lycée group – an activity that works after a holiday is Mystery Word – 5 words on the board and the students have to form Yes/No questions to ask you what the words correspond to. You can crank it up a notch by adding some lies into your package that the students have to identify. As a rule, they will be quite curious about your activities – do not feel you have to tell the whole truth. No one will check !! You can then get the students to prepare their own for an extension activity in pairs or groups.
Looking back over 2018 in pictures works a treat with lycée students and particularly the older classes. Great chance to revise V-ED too. You will find a selection of photos by googling “retrospective 2018” – try this one Photos de l’année We offer the images, the pupils have to comment on them as much as they can. It can be done in groups or in pairs. The pupils could choose their own images for a different slant on the activity.
New Year’s Resolutions : the lycée group worked on this one. We identified a series of language points that could be useful :
I intend to V / I am planning to V / I am thinking of V-ING etc.
Don’t forget the idea of getting the pupils to make resolutions on a piece of paper and hiding them away until June. We have done that – you will be able to open the box in our last lessons before the end of the year.
Check out Audiolingua – see if there are audio files of interest. Here is a link to a B1 level file on New Year’s Resolutions : Paul
Any other ideas to share ? Post up a message on the REMIND group. Enjoy the remainder of the holidays and see you soon.
As a teacher in schools, I love Christmas as it is a time of excitement and warmth. Fond memories of singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in school in the UK, many years ago and of teaching the very same song to many classes in France over the years. I wonder if my students remember ??!!
Merry Christmas to anyone who is reading this blog post and very best wishes for health and happiness in 2019.
I see from my site stats that I have been getting some traffic on here from Senegal and Ivory Coast. That is fabulous as it means I am not forgotten in this part of the world, so dear to my heart. I led training workshops in Dakar and Abidjian for 9 years running and so met a huge number of people and worked with some great colleagues. If you recognize yourselves in this, please be assured that I have not forgotten you and what I learned from my time spent with you – the warmth, the laughs and the same desire to do our best for our kids, to help to bring out the best in them. If you were one of the participants who learned all the verses of The Court of King Caractacus, I hope you can still remember them (!!) and you might enjoy a sing-along to this video.
If you had the ultimate pleasure of singing “I am the Music Man” and learning to dance to the bagpipe music of “Scotland the Brave”, I am sure just the mere mention of it will bring a smile to your faces. As we always did a Friday special on the final day of the course, there you were, in all your Friday finery, boogie-ing your way down along with this :
I no longer work in West Africa – sadly, as I loved those yearly trips – but I continue the teacher training and still maintain that desire to bring fun and enjoyment to the world of language learning. Please feel free to “Like” this post, if you are one of my West Africa friends …