Midlothian foreign language students settle in

Following the success of the French Modern Language Assistant (MLAs) last year, Midlothian has been lucky enough to employ six MLAs again this year.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 12th February 2017, 12:00 pm
Midlothian's six French Modern Language assistants - Andrea Pittoreau, Anne Larbre, Margaux Josi, Lorry Dubois, Bruno Bertagnolio and Melina Jarzabek
Midlothian's six French Modern Language assistants - Andrea Pittoreau, Anne Larbre, Margaux Josi, Lorry Dubois, Bruno Bertagnolio and Melina Jarzabek

They are working across all 32 primary schools, assisting with the implementation of the 1+2 initiative which means that French is being taught in all our primary schools from P1 to P7. Staff have already seen an increase in the confidence and language skills of teachers as well as enthusiasm and progress from pupils!

The MLAs completed a diary of their first impressions and experiences, excerpts of which are below:

Andrea Pittoreau, “I came to Scotland by car, me and another assistant drove all the way up to Dalkeith. The landscapes we saw after passing the border were so beautiful that I felt like I was in a fairytale. I sometimes encounter funny situations with the younger pupils. For example, when I asked in which country was the Eiffel Tower one pupil answered “Scotland!”. I enjoy learning everyday about the Scottish vocabulary like ‘wii (wee), ken, dunny (dinnae) etc.’. It’s like I am discovering English again!”

Anne Larbre, “My very first impression of Scotland was actually a thermal shock! Scotland is a very beautiful country and its inhabitants are just lovely people, always happy to help you! Everyone was delighted to meet me and I received a warm welcome. The children were really enthusiastic to meet me “a real French lady” and very keen to learn French. They asked me so many questions, some more unexpected than others! For example, one asked me, ‘Do you have unicorns in France?’ Finally, a P1 told me, ‘You look young!’ well actually he meant ‘Are you sure that you are able to teach us French?’ so it was really funny.”

Magaux Josi, “The day after that I started work in the schools. I was surprised to see how enthusiastic children were about learning French. They had all sort of questions about me, France and also things that had nothing to do with French (but still, it shows how happy they were and how they were willing to share with me). Scotland has amazing landscapes! I was also really scared about the Scottish accent but it turns out it’s not so difficult to understand people. They always try their best and make sure I understand them. I hope to discover more of Scotland in the months to come and to continue to have a good time teaching French!”

Lorry Dubois, “Here we are, in front of a beautiful landscape and sunset at the border of Scotland which can only motivates me to start this new year in a good mood. The first week here was great. I had beautiful sunrises at my window almost every morning, and quite a lot of sun which is unusual according to the Scots. Some people also told me about the Scottish accent which sometimes can be very strong. But for now, it is fine – except for my host’s husband who comes from Glasgow, so he has to speak slowly when he talks to me because sometimes it is really difficult!”

Bruno Bertagnolio, “I have spent great moments in Scotland and can already say that I love both the country and the function of French Language Assistant. If there is apparently nothing exceptional, the English verb ‘socialise’, of which there is no French equivalent, makes full sense since people are just so warm and welcoming. They (the pupils) sometime answer your questions in a manner you would never have expected and which can be both very cute and funny. For example, I have shown them a picture of the Mont Blanc asking where they thought the photo was taken. A P2 boy answered in Santa’s country. The said picture depicted the Mont Blanc and its reflection in a lake. A pupil asked me ‘why mountains are upside down in France?’.”

Melina Jarzabek, “Before attending this programme of assistantship, I had already taught to different audiences: migrant adults, children with special needs and refugee children. Every time I taught I felt like a superhero who helps people get a better life. This year I have to adapt my way of teaching and it’s a bigger challenge. We have to adapt our teaching according to their age, their school and their teacher. But it’s ok. I know I do a lot of mistakes but it’s the way to become a teacher.”