Teaching in a ‘normal’ way

After 2 years of disrupted learning it is great to be back and teaching in a ‘normal’ way. I’m sure we have all discovered that the simple things in life really are the things which make us happy and I am no different to anyone else. Year 7 are delighted that we can play face to face games again and it is a joy to see such fun in the classroom whilst practising their French.

One of the most difficult aspects of teaching during the last 2 years was that I regularly had to move out of my classroom as it was difficult to maintain the distancing regulations. This year I am back in my room, with its beautiful view over the sea towards Ravenscar and of course my bird table. The pupils really enjoy seeing the birds come to feeders around the school and we have regular visitors to the French department each day. Of course, we are learning the French words for the birds as we see them and we even have names for one or two. Jean Pigeon is a favourite, although he does have a sneaky habit of tapping on the window now if there is no food, and staring in at my classes. The nuthatch (la sittelle), the blue tit (la mésange), the robin (le rouge-gorge) and the chaffinch (le pinson) are less demanding but do keep us entertained as they dart backwards and forwards from the gardens to the bird table.

It has also been wonderful to welcome so many new overseas boarders into my classroom and to show that language learning in the real world is so important. We share similarities and difference in language daily. Today my year 11 group learnt that the word for hurricane is the same in Russian and French (l’ouragon) but recently we all learnt that sometimes the only way to find the correct word is to ask a native French speaker. Luckily, we have a couple at school but I still have contact with a former French teacher at the school now living back in France, who helps with obscure translations like the word for the top of a Russian Orthodox Church! Thank goodness for instant messenger and the proof that there is still a place for technology in language learning. It is such a valuable lesson to learn that the word in Spanish is similar to the word in French, or that the German word is so close to the English word. We can all teach each other so much about language simply by sharing our own.

It is certainly the little things which make a difference to my day and I am so pleased to be teaching in a ‘normal’ way once again.

Cathy Hornung, Head of MFL, Teacher of French, Y11H tutor