Africajarc 2014

Africajarc will soon be upon us and this year we are going! Not only to the market but also to experience some of the wonderful African music that finds itself at the small riverside town of Cajarc. Last year I blogged about how we always made it to the market during the day but have never made it to the evening concerts, or managed to catch any of the free concerts throughout the weekend. This year my parents have kindly agreed to babysit so that Andrew and I can take a long awaited night out to see Houria Aichi, Sena Dagadu and Angelique Kidjo (who I currently have on a Spotify playlist.) Hopefully the weather will hold out as it's an open air concert and in previous years it has been cancelled due to storms.

What Summertime concerts/festivals are you going to?

Becky x

Do You Want to Join my Choir?!

Many of the activities we've been taking part in have now stopped for the summer break. The choirs, basketball, French lessons, and most of my teaching will start up again in September ready for the new academic year. This summer however I'm gearing up for the exciting new venture I announced back in April, that I was asked to conduct a new beginners adult choir for Voices.

Since that announcement I have been choosing my repertoire, which will be a mixture of French and English songs, and recruitment has started. Check me out in the local paper! I'm looking for at least 15 people, both male and female voices as the choir will be split into Sopranos, Altos and Bass/Tenors. I'm hoping there will be enough interest to get the choir going in September.

The last Voices choir concert we performed was part of the Fête de la Musique, a festival of free music which takes place all over France on the 21st June. We sang our repertoire in Villefranche in the 'Chapelle des Pénitents Noirs' which I first sang in with the Parisot choir. It was a small concert which was recorded and here you can listen to Petite Marie, Armstrong, Michele, and Ma Reverence.

If you're interested in joining the new Voices choir in September you can find details here. I hope you'll come join me!

Becky x

Picture of me singing taken from here.


Sports Day at Parisot Lake

As an expat it's important to find ways to integrate into your adopted country. Recently there been a lot of ideas floating around about ways that we can integrate better into our local French communities. It's not hard to put on an event here. If you have an idea and can gather up enough volunteers anything is possible. The kids have broken up from school but not too long ago, just before the end of term, 'Sportilac' was held down at our local lake. There are loads of sporting activities available for kids in our area of France, but the idea of a sports day, like the ones held in UK schools at the end of every school year, is not something that our local school offers. The event was organised by a local British expat who thought this event would be great for the kids, but also hoped it would be an event well attended by both French and British families.

It was a fantastic afternoon. There was mini basketball, Zumba and Urban Dance demonstrations, African drumming, a cake stand to raise money and a BBQ. There were races for the kids such as egg and spoon, sack race, an obstacle course and all the kids won medals for competing. The tug of war and welly throwing was popular with both kids and adults. There was a 'Miss Parisot' competition for men which after a LOT of encouragement 3 very brave (English) men dressed up in women's clothes and paraded themselves in front of everyone. To end there was a very amusing raft race between a very professionally made raft, with welded together barrels, planks of wood, topped with bunting and a flag, and Andrew's team who just about got away with 6 blown up lilos and a ladder of wood. I'm surprised they made it there and back without sinking into the lake!

The event, if it continues year on year, has the potential to grow into a great day out for all the family. There was a good turn out from both French and English families (possibly slightly more English than French to begin with?) and though there were some events that only the English took part in it may just be unfamiliarity with the whole sports day idea as to why others didn't get involved. It would be great if the local schools got involved as anything that encourages kids being active can only be a good thing!

Are you an expat? Have you ever organised an event to encourage integration?

Becky x

Like our Facebook Page to see more pictures of Sportilac!

Work In France - Teaching English

Since October 2013 I've been teaching English to children at the Chambre de Commerce in Cahors. It's been a little bit far being an hours drive there and another hour back, but I took the job when I had no other work started up and felt I couldn't turn down the opportunity. This week it's my last week with the children and we'll be performing a little 'spectacle' for the parents and I'll be giving feedback about the progress of their learning.

It's been a small group of only 6 children but it has not always been easy. There were two lovely girls who were engaging, well behaved and keen to learn. Then there were 4 boys who individually were a pleasure to teach but together it often became a challenge trying to contain their energy for an hour.

I planned each class around a theme and there were two websites I found to be really helpful. Kids Pages has lots of free printable flash cards and worksheets all based around different themes. Activity Village again has lots of free printables from bookmarks (which I give to the kids to stick their end of class stickers on!) colouring sheets and lots of fantastic craft ideas.

The whole experience has been eye opening and I have a huge respect for teachers who do this daily with large groups of children. I won't be returning to the position next year because the travel time is not worth the cost and on top of all the printing I've done at home I've probably lost money rather than gained. I am instead concentrating on setting up English classes for children more locally. Mini Monde is all about making learning fun for children and I'm currently working on an activity based programme for teaching English as a second language to children.

Have you ever taught English as a second language? I'd love to hear about your experience.
Becky x
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