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lundi 31 août 2015



At this time of the year, when I was still working and that Summer was drawing to an end,and back-to-school days floating around, I used to wake up in the middle of the night, all in a sweat, my heart pounding and with a tight knot of fear in my stomach.Well, maybe not really fear, but let's say a kind of stage-fright. Yes, even though I was a teacher, I must confess that all throughout the very first week, getting into new classrooms and meeting new crops of students made me feel like Daniel walking into the lions'den !
I guess for me the kick-off of school year was just like the three knocks at the theatre, for actors.You know, sweaty palms, racing heart and a feeling of dry mouth or butterflies...
Fortunately, once the curtain up, I didn't get the chills any longer. 
Working with adult learners has always been a bundle of laughs, and now I often happen to miss those early September feelings !
Thanks again to all those who have kept in touch, and read this blog every week. I do hope I bring you as much as you do to me !!

Anyway, Summer 2015 is nearly gone, and I am quite happy because I have achieved what I wanted. Of course,I didn't have lofty goals, yet they were absolutely uplifting.
Spending time with longlife friends ( we have known one another for nearly 60 years), remembering the good old days (oldy but goldy), drawing plans for an old people's home ( just for the 15 of us) was really great fun !
Celebrating special dates with my relatives was also cheerful and so emotional : my mother's two brothers singing a song my father had taught them 65 years ago ( when coming back from Indochina) was a pure purple of patch !!
Oops, I was about to forget all the treats ( sometimes a bit too boozy) which helped my top muffins to settle..

Now, Winter is just a few short months away, and it is high time to pick up apples, make apple sauce jars and freeze them.
No blackberry jam this year, but instead crème de mûres. Yes, I have decided to take the plunge ! Don't get me wrong : even though I am drowning in fresh and super ripe berries, I won't open an off-licence in Audierne. I just want to make the most of this year's surprisingly good blackberry harvest, and, treat my guests with a a home-made kir.
So, guinea pigs are welcome !!

Cheers !

lundi 24 août 2015



Some days ago I got an email from a former student of mine telling me he found my weekly posts quite useful because they help him to expend his everyday vocabulary.A bit of buttering up probably, but I must confess I was absolutely elated. I guess it was the highest reward blogging had bestowed upon me since the early days of The Adventures of Dany The Perky Busy Bee.It really made my day !
It is true that all throughout my posts I try to use new words,new phrases, because most adult English language learners I've taught said they were constrained by a lack of vocabulary, and were often stuck for words. I also manage to arrange frequent encounters with new words. According to a recent survey, four exposures to a new word are necessary to remember it :

. You never saw it .
. You have heard of it, but you don't know what it means.
. You recognize it in context,it has something to do with ...
. You know it.

In my opinion, the more exposures students have to a word, the more likely they are to store it and use it properly.

Indeed,the size of your vocabulary matters when you want to talk about this and that. Low vocabulary can turn into a trap.That's one of the very first things I noticed when I started teaching adults. So, let me tell you how.

I had been teaching for hardly one year when one Friday my boss asked me if I could stand in for another teacher who was on a sick leave.I agreed to do it, so he gave me all the instructions for my one-week mission starting the next Monday.
As soon as I read the information, my heart started pounding,my knees shaking and some butterflies went through my stomach : the week after I had to give one-to-one tuitions to Kellogg's Human Resources manager,four hours a day from Monday to Friday !
The only thing I knew about Kellogg's was the cornflakes I put on the breakfast table every morning. My knowledge of cereals stopped there !!
I was scared because, first, Human Resources managers are not people you can clap on the back, and secondly, my food-processing vocabulary would not hold water over one hour !I was in a fine mess !!

I spent the whole weekend cramming for my " impossible mission ". I learnt all  I could about wheat,buckwheat,oats,maize,barley,rye and so on ...I spent two hours in the nearby supermarket reading the English lists of ingredients on packets of cereal bars, fruit-flavoured snacks, etc

On Monday morning I was so sick of all those cereals that I let the children help themselves with their favourite ones. All the way to Kellogg's headquarters I was all at sea !
My knocking at the manager's door was just like " For Whom The Bell Tolls ", but what else could I do ? Take a French leave ? My boss would have fired me.
So, there I was, expecting the door not to open, but of course it did !

To my " Good morning, Sir ", the man answered in French and explained that apart from food-processing vocabulary, he was hopeless at English, and , to top it all, at the end of the week he had to entertain his American bosses every evening, treating them with good meals and showing them around Paris.
He was really stressed out, unlike the Perky Busy Bee who perked up in 
a wink.
The first hours were a real nightmare for him : he was as red as a beetroot and all in a sweat, but little by little he gained confidence, got used to paraphrasing when stuck for words, and last but not least, stopped 
preparing speech in his head before speaking !
I hope after that intensive training he could enjoy Paris by night with the
American team ..

Anyway, for me that was a kind of trigger for my teaching methods and I hope it is still useful.

Enjoy yourselves and make the most of the last days of August !

lundi 17 août 2015


Chapter twenty-seven

To make sure to never run out of ideas and stay consistent in blogging, I had decided to update " The Adventures of Dany the Perky Busy Bee " weekly, I mean once a week. Playing with the big boys and posting twice or three times a week was a task I didn't feel up to.

My weekly routine suited me perfectly. From Tuesday to Saturday, while walking the dog along the Breton paths, I used to weave my next story. I just paid attention to stick to my own demands : write something funny, true-to-life and with expansive vocabulary.Then, you know the rest..

Unfortunately, my smoothly-running method froze up nearly two weeks ago and left some of you somehow puzzled. 

So, first, let me answer your questions :

I was not off on holidays : Audierne is too gorgeous to leave it. Its motto is :
Audierne, love it or leave it !

I was not healing my sunburns ! Among my readers, there are some malicious tongues, aren't there ?

I was not babysitting for Mrs Deer. The fawn has grown up, it has little horns,and is a cheeky boy ! It has turned the hazelnut leaves into lace !

I was not overwhelmed by gardening. the showery weather has kept me inside and the wild garlic and wild carrots have given room to four-leaf clovers. I hope that if I let them enjoy the place, they will bring me good luck. It is said that the first leaf is for faith, the second for hope, the third for love and the fourth for luck ...

Last but not least, I was not stuck for ideas. There is always something nice going on around.

SO, WHAT ???

Well, over a fortnight ago, I was about to chew the first bite of my dinner, when suddenly I felt a kind of swelling under my lower jaws. In a wink the perky busy bee turned into a gloomy toad.
It wasn't that painful, but not really attractive..
After a sleepless night, tossing and turning in bed, I rushed to my GP who diagnosed a salivary gland disorder . What a plague for a chatterbox like me!
I was on antibiotics for five days, but looking like a toad or a hamster was not my cup of tea.
Fortunately, that misfortune had already happened to my best friend's husband and she gave me an efficient tip : a mouthwash of lemon juice ! It really worked !! It blew off my socks ! In a split second, the wonder juice had deflated my unattractive swellings ! ( What a pity it didn't remove my jowls, as well !)/

So, now you know why the Perky Busy Bee was as silent as a grave !

Looking forward to answering any questions about vocabulary, grammar or busy bees' way of life.

In the meantime, enjoy yourselves !