Thursday, October 21, 2004

English is Coming!?

English is coming back to France according to Le Monde today, although I'd argue it's already here. A new report recommends that, starting in grade 3/CE2, English should be obligatory for all children in French schools because it is currently the language of international communication. If this is the case, then it will be impossible to speak French in Paris. You all better come to visit now if you want to practice your French!
Last night, Halloween came to Paris for a handful of families. My friend organized her 5th annual trick-or-treat party. She knows how to throw a good party and this year was no different. She invited 65 kids, including my children and my son's best friend. We arrived promptly at 4:00pm expecting to start trick-or-treating around 20 minutes later. Well, as soon as we got to her building foyer, the sky opened up and it poured for the next 2 hours. We waited for the lightening to stop and the rain to subside a bit and then headed out to the 15 stores lining one side of Ave Victor Hugo. The store clerks couldn't see the outfits because most of the kids were covered in raincoats and umbrellas, but I have a picture of some of the group.

Most of the stores we entered were made for 3 or 4 customers at a time. Small, high-end stores where you could buy a 150 euro baby onesie or 5000 euro fur coat. Imagine 65 kids with wet sneakers walking in to a store. Now to be fair, only 20 or so could squeeze in at once (believe me, more tried... they were getting candy after all), but these clerks didn't really understand to give each child one candy and send them on their way. The French love the deguise/dress-up and many clerks wanted to see the outfits. In the end, all the kids were happy, if wet, and couldn't wait to dump their candy on the floor of their apartment and start eating. A little slice of Americana.
Today was the Halloween party at the school. Have I mentioned before that there is a line between school and parents? Parents are discouraged from participating in French schools. One mother returning to the US was scared to get her child a recommendation from the French school because one of the questions was "how much does the mother participate in school activities?" In France, it would be high praise to say "she doesn't participate at all." The mother was worried that the US school would think she is a very bad mother.
Anyway, to get back to the point, my son was in a Halloween play today. No parents were allowed to come to school to watch the play. No pictures were taken. That's just too weird to think about. He told me he said his lines well and about the kid who was too shy to say his lines. More than this I do not know.
Other than that, the older kids, like my son, handed out candy to the maternelle children (3-5 years old). Both kids came home with lots of candy to add to the booty from last night. It's only a little bit of the feeling of Halloween in the US, but it will have to do.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
1:41 PM



Auntie M-

While I am deciphering what a chimney sweeper is trying to say to me, you are off trick-or-treating. I am very jealous.

People keep telling me that the French love to dress up in costume. I was invited to a party on the 31st, but I will not be able to attend, because I will be in Spain, but now I really want to go and see how people dress.

Having lived in the West Village of NYC for the past couple of years, I have seen some pretty wild costumes.

As for the parental involvement in schools... One parent was telling me that her child came home one day to tell her she had been on a field trip. The mother was perplexed, because she had not signed any form giving her permission. When she called the teacher to ask why she had not gotten a form, the teacher said "Form? We don't need your permission to take the kids on a field trip." The mother was shocked.

As I always try to remind myself. "It's just different here. Not better. Not worse. Just different."

Have a great weekend.


# posted by Anonymous : 11:14 AM  

When I was an assistant in Primary schools a few years ago, it was planned that all children would have English lessons from about the age of 5 upwards. Unfortunately the lessons are often given by their own teachers so they aren't always too successful. they get three quarters of an hour twice a week if they are lucky.
I went on quite a few trips with my children's classes but it seems the fashion now not to invite parents along because the children of the parents don't always benefit totaly from the trip. (Keeping an eye on Mum!)
I gave lessons at our local 'maternelle' for about 9 years on a volutary basis (twenty miutes on Saturday mornings), then there was that awful hostage taking in a school and these kind of things were dicouraged.

# posted by Anji : 1:58 PM  

I like a lot about the French school system, but I do miss the American way of participating once in a while....with a holiday party or special project. When I first arrived I offered to have an afterschool program of English storytelling, but was turned down. The French always complain that there isn't enough English at our school and I thought I could help out, but was turned down.

# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 2:10 PM  

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