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30 things you will only understand if you teach French…

  1. Je m’apple. Jem apell. J’
  2. This question (usually following a concise set of instructions): ‘do you want us to do it in French, Miss?’!
  3. Pupil: ‘How do you say ‘got’ in French, Miss?’Me: ‘Got what?’ Pupil: ‘Just got?’ Me: Please excuse me, I need to find a brick wall to bang my head against.
  4. You write the date in French approximately 975 times a year. If only it were copied correctly the same number of times. More often you encounter a weird hybrid not unlike the following: date
  5. How seriously rich you would be if you were given a pound or even a penny for the number of times a pupil shouted out ‘the word I want isn’t in the dictionary Miss!’(Response-French words are at the front; English at the back). ‘It’s still not there Miss!’ Your eyes roll and a sigh escapes as you make your way over to point out that they are still one and a half pages away due to misspelling their word.
  6. Every September without fail when you meet your bottom set Year8s and are greeted with ‘Miss, Miss, do you know what enculer le poulet means?’!
  7. Hearing yourself for the hundredth time refer to the audio file as a tape. Then sensing the internal groans of the pupils as you attempt to drag yourself into the 21st century by quickly dropping the words ‘MP3’ and ‘download’ into conversation.
  8. Google translate. Enough said.
  9. You mourn the fact that wasn’t around when you did your degree.
  10. Ditto for what’s app and face time. You actually wrote letters to stay in touch with family and friends during your year abroad!
  11. Every non linguist’s reaction upon learning you teach a language ‘ooh, say something in French’.
  12. The ensuing 20 minutes during which  gems such as these are offered up by said non linguist as evidence that they know some French: ‘excusez-moi, où est la bibliotheque?’ and ‘un kilo de pommes de terre s’il vous plaît’! image
  13. This plea: ‘Can’t I just read it, Miss?’ (No). ‘But other teachers let them read it!’ (No). ‘Can I just write it out in full but in really small handwriting?’ (No).
  14. When your A* pupil is smashing his CA Speaking test and you are mentally punching the air when… the bell rings/ the door opens/a fight breaks out in the corridor…
  15. When the exam board tries way too hard to be cool, throwing in references to new technology. Anybody remember the bizarre ‘e-reader’ question circa 2012? They couldn’t say kindle because it is a brand but the word ‘e-reader’ bamboozled many a pupil (and teacher!!!)
  16. Your face when you heard role plays were making a comeback. image
  17. Your face when you heard translations were making a comeback.image
  18. BUT…no more controlled assessments!!! image
  19. #mfltwitterati is your Church; @joedale your God.
  20. Your obsession with catching any French film or programme on TV. Sitting back to enjoy but getting mildy p***ed off at the distracting subtitles.
  21. Then reaching for a pen and paper as you realise you are missing an opportunity for refreshing your slang!
  22. You say ‘school trip to Paris?’; the pupils say ‘Disneyland?’
  23. On personal visits to France, heading straight for  the sweet aisle of Carrefour and raiding all their bags of Carambar- for the pupils. Then eating all the strawberry ones before you reach the ferry terminal!
  24. Stressing out because no matter how good you think your French is, you still struggle to comprehend the jokes inside said Carambar wrappers.
  25. The bonus that end of term film time is totally justifiable from both a cultural and linguistic point of view.
  26. But certain films will always raise a few eyebrows and trigger a few giggles…kirikou
  27. Those members of staff who speak un peu de français who come up with any excuse to barge into your classroom with an unsolicited ‘Bonjour Madame, comment allez-vous?’
  28. Your faculty meetings are the bomb. Croissants and coffees all round. And your end of term lunches are the envy of the staffroom. No sausage rolls here, thank you very much. image
  29. You are probably regarded as the extrovert and eccentric ones. Which is probably quite true.
  30. But you are also undoubtedly the warmest, most gregarious, cultured and emotionally intelligent faculty of all.

Have I missed any classics? Please add them below.

Happy exam season! I hope you enjoyed a five minute distraction courtesy of

Betsy ‘if I had a pound’ Belle


37 thoughts on “30 things you will only understand if you teach French…

  1. How and why does “natation” always become “nation”?

    1. Teaching the verb “venir” is always interesting…

      1. Yes! Likewise for ‘moins que’!

    2. that moment in your career when you give up trying to correct pupils from saying “je suis excité” and other franglais that doesn’t quite work….

      “but they all speak English miss”

      1. Or correcting ‘je suis chaud’!

  2. Titters when the class clown insists on answering the register with ‘Oui Oui’

    1. and la piscine!

  3. EVERY time you reach la page soixante-neuf of ANY text-book from 3rd year onwards.

  4. Working out what they looked up in the dictionary to produce “Je joue au écraser”… or indeed “Ma mère est technicien de clou”

    1. technicien de clou is BRILLIANT!!!!!

  5. 31. The Yr6 eyes rolling when you wish them “bonne piscine” and the rest of the school can’t believe you are soooooooooooooooooo rude!
    32. Making Carambar influenced jokes: Yr3 stone age display, has acquired a speech bubble: “Je m’appelle Pierre!”
    33. Destroying every pupil’s first name by “Frenchisising it” ! Exception: Conrad and Peter!
    Combining 29 + 33 language teachers have the most fun EVERYWHERE as well as on the dancefloor and the most embarrassing parents to have! Sorry, kids!
    Great post!

  6. ‘Ils peuvent’ always raises a giggle ?

  7. cheveux or chevaux can be interesting!

  8. I always enjoy ‘ on bidon aller’ ( or’ on bidon faire’) when it makes regular appearances in writing controlled assessments! !

    1. I actually struggled to work this one out for a second! ???

  9. J’habite à Tache et je voudrais aller en Porcelaine.
    I live in Staines and would like to go to China.

    1. Too funny!!! Merci ?

  10. My best one “j’ai in frère qui s’appelle confitures” in the early days of Google translate (I have a brother called James)

  11. Oh the pitfalls of dictionary misuse and not understanding how language works.
    This, in answer to the question: qu’est-ce que tu ferais si tu étais riche?
    Je bois magasin caisse je goutte.
    Took me a while to work out!

    1. I wood shop till I drop? Excellent!!!! Truly excellent. Thanks for sharing x

  12. I now predict GCSE grades based on my students’ ability to spell ‘mercredi, chien & devoirs’!
    ‘Moins que’ even makes me smile. Always used to be ‘la banque’ that raised a snigger or three, now it’s ‘fatigué’.

    1. How did I forget to include this one in the original list??? X

  13. My favourites
    1. Je vais prep la plage
    2. Je mange des èbrèchures ( merci google)
    3, en vacances je suis allé en dinde ( well of course a capital letter can make so much difference!!!)

    1. Prep la plage- a classic! I admit I had to google translate number 2!x

  14. Je ‘comme’
    To express their opinion ??

  15. Je voudrais une chambre avec une averse – from the days of GCSE role plays with dictionaries.

  16. On arriving at French market to buy picnic: “Sir, what’s French for Brie?” and “How do I ask for cheddar” (to which the answer is: you don’t!)

  17. not about students but staff: having to correct other staff’s English is what really annoys me. Are MFL teachers the only ones capable of using apostrophes correctly and practise/practice?

  18. 1) or vwah and variations to say goodbye
    2) French letter as title

  19. Cependant! {usually think I’ve said condom- haven’t told them there’s a place called that!]
    Some classics, which I took a while to work out:
    j’ai maths allume mercredi [accent on e – can’t get one on!!]
    je velomoteur le plancher
    and, “what is croissant in french?”
    Love it!

  20. Je testament aller

  21. Name : Alfred
    Form : ça va !!!

  22. Pendant Les vacancies, je suis aller à bottes de caoutchouc.

    (I live in New Zealand).

  23. Children who just write the English mid-sentence when they don’t know the French.
    Dans ma chambre j’ai un bunk bed avec deux duvets parce que I get cold in the night et…..

    Also the Year 7s who return the homework beautifully done and very detailed,……but in English

  24. Je vais duvet la rue
    Je joue au grillen

    As I teach Spanish too, I’d like a euro for every partygoer who says ‘Spanish eh? Dos cervezas por favor’ oRIGinal, NOT.

  25. What does J’habite en ville mean? … I live in a village… so what does un village mean ? TOWN?
    So many classics!

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