Parenting and entrepreneuring: episode 3

I’ve decided that I’m going to change the name for what I call « my son taking care of himself while I work. » I’m going to call it: free play time.

Why? I think the name works better, it makes me feel better, and honestly? It’s really not so bad for him. Child specialists the world over toot the advantages of free play time for children. So why not call our Wednesday mornings that?

Our kiddo spends basically all of Wednesday morning playing on his own. At the moment, I’m pretty sure he’s drawing something. Maybe ten minutes ago he was playing with his toys, and before that, he got himself a banana to top up his breakfast. It’s 10am and he hasn’t even asked for TV or the tablet yet! I’m sure the time will come, but so far, I’m impressed.

So what’s the point of this post? Don’t feel guilty for letting your kids play alone! There is nothing wrong with your child spending time using his or her imagination and inventing games for him/herself. In fact, it’s good for them. It helps them become more autonomous, develops the imagination and shows them that they’re not the center of the universe.

To me, this last point is super important. My kid needs to understand that when I’m on a call, he has to be quiet, he can’t talk to me unless he’s « dying » and he needs to figure things out for himself. It may sound harsh, but he has to learn how to wait. Patience is a virtue, right?

I opened my business so that I could spend less time at work, make my own money (more than what I was making previously) and spend more time with my family. However, I didn’t open it to become a stay-at-home mom. There is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home parent, but it’s a different ball game.

So, if you have to work, forget feeling guilty. Organize your day so you can set aside family time, but when it’s your work time, guilt has no place. Your company is important, your well-being is important, and your kids need to learn to respect that; it’ll serve them in the future.

Parenting and entrepreneuring: episode 2

It’s a quarter past 4pm, the baby-sitter will be back soon with our son, and we have nothing to eat, and I need to get to the cash machine to pay her.

The eternal question: what on earth is for dinner today?

Quesadillas? Why not… But what to put in them that our 4 year old will deign to swallow?! Urgh.

Of course, into the mix flies the Newsletter I haven’t written yet, and the fear that there is a typo I’ve missed in my publications today. I can’t afford typos, I’m an English teacher. But I’m human, and I always miss things! I have to read them 10 times to be sure, yet I still come back to work I’d done a long time ago and see mistakes.

Is this due to inattention? Sloppiness? Fatigue? A lack of time? Does it matter?

On Wednesdays (today) and on strike days (yesterday) my son has to fend for himself (only in the mornings on Wednesdays though, yay). It sounds awful, considering he’s only 4, but he’s pretty cool about it, so long as I can tolerate the noise emanating from his make believe universe. And he makes up some awesome stories! There he is, sometimes, building a spaceship that looks like a banana, or playing with his pirates when suddenly Ninjagos and superheroes come to save the day! But oh no! The cars are falling off the precipice and falling into the abyss of the floor! AAAAHHHH!

Okay, I don’t think he actually says all of those things, but it sounds like it, and the few phrases I catch from his adventures make them enviable!

On a more serious note. How do you organize yourselves? Particularly those of you homeschooling young kids? When do you work?! I’m so glad that tomorrow school picks up again. And so is my little guy. No more TV while mommy is in a class. No more Khan Academy while she’s in a meeting.

Yesterday, he came with me while I was giving a class at a local high school. He was so well behaved I bought him a chocolate ice cream right before lunch to say thank you!

Parenting and entrepreneuring: episode 1

A few days ago, I got a big exercise ball to use as a desk chair. I’ve heard they’re better for you than regular office chairs, and apart from struggling a bit with keeping my balance, I’m inclined to agree.

My 4 year old, however, thinks this is his new toy and tries, at various times of the day, to use it as a soccer ball, balance ball, and just generally enjoys rolling it around our (smallish) flat. This would be fine, I suppose, if my desk wasn’t a make-shift kitchen countertop resting on one trestle and a bookcase propped up with a few books I don’t read anymore. It isn’t wonderfully stable.

My home office.

That being said, I’m rather proud of my DIY desk and will include a picture of it here.

The home office in a smallish apartment is a challenge, particularly when you don’t actually have a room dedicated for work. My desk is in our front room, which doubles as an office, a dining room, a dance floor and a play area. The least that can be said about it is that it’s versatile!

These are not my biggest challenges though. One biggie is figuring out how to make sure that the noise from my apartment doesn’t seep into meetings with clients. I try to schedule meetings and classes during school hours, but this isn’t always possible. So, I have purchased a pair of headphones with a noise-cancelling mike. I have tested it out a few times and it seems to be doing the trick, even if my interlocutors can still hear the occasional screechy voice from a cartoon character on the TV, or my son’s screams of delight or anger when something, anything, happens.

My dream is for a world where it’s ok to hear the sound of children in the background during work hours. I love having my kiddo around during the day, even if he makes it a little harder to concentrate. And then, when I think about, he doesn’t make it too much harder to concentrate, he just reminds me that I need to take breaks. He reminds me that my mind is fresher after I come back from a walk, or a card game, or a few minutes spent swinging on the hammock.

Modern society has taught us that we must sit on our butts all day, in the office and work work work! That this is productivity. But it isn’t, is it? Who among you is capable or sitting for 4 straight hours and actually get good work done? Then take a quick break and sit for 4 more hours. We’re not designed to do this. Our brains, just as our bodies, need action, diversity and challenge. Sitting like brainless zombies in front of a computer because we have to won’t make us more productive. Having our children around will not (necessarily) make us less productive.

I have noticed that I get as much work done in a 4 or 5 hour day as I do in a 6 or 7 hour day. My mind is fresh, ready to take on new challenges.

This is why I chose to be an entrepreneur, to risk it, to take on the challenge, to put myself out there and change the way I work and organize my life. It isn’t easy, it is stressful, but it’s rewarding and challenging and fun!

What are your current challenges?

Oatmeal cookie recipe!

Hi everyone! 

So, today we’re going to make oatmeal cookies. Yum! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • flour (1 ½ cups)
  • baking powder (half a sachet)
  • salt (half a teaspoon)
  • 2 eggs
  • butter (half a cup) softened
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1 banana
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3 cups of oats

You will also need utensils: 

  • 2 big bowls and a little bowl
  • a whisk
  • a spatula 
  • a fork and a bowl to crush the banana
  • a baking pan and baking sheet

So what’s the process?

  1. First, mix the softened butter, vanilla extract and sugar until it has the consistency of wet sand.
  2. Add the crushed banana and mix together.
  3. Add the eggs and mix.
  4. In another bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder.
  5. Add the flour mixture, bit by bit, to the sugar and butter mixture and blend. 
  6. Add the chocolate chips.
  7. Add the oats.
  8. Let it rest in the fridge for two hours.
  9. Place little balls of dough on the baking sheet about an inch apart and bake until the edges begin to take on a golden-brown color.
  10. Set aside to cool.

And there you go, a batch of delicious oatmeal cookies! 

Groupetude Newsletter: week 19

Weekly English Fix

Rain, rain, go away!

By Klaudyna Piatek May 10th, 2021

Oh what to do on a rainy day? On a rainy week? 

How about card games! We’ve recently rediscovered some great card games to play with friends. Board games and card games are super popular in France, and many people have got a nice collection for every occasion. 

Lately, we’ve been playing Smile Life and Mini Ville. They’re lots of fun, even if there are only two players. If you’re learning French, this is a great way to practice without feeling like you’re studying, and the language in the games will really help you with everyday vocabulary. 

Learning English? Why not try scrabble online. If you’ve got someone to practice with at home, then you could even order the English version of the game. 

Don’t forget to join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/groupetudecommunity

THIS WEEK’S

TOP STORIES

Spring and painting and Normandy, interview with David Hockney:

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/may/10/david-hockney-on-joy-longing-and-spring-light-im-teaching-the-french-how-to-paint-normandy

The colors of spring, beautiful paintings, Normandy, and an interview with David Hockney, why not?! 

The myths you shouldn’t believe about the rights of Brits in France after Brexit

https://www.thelocal.fr/20210423/the-myths-you-shouldnt-believe-about-brits-rights-in-france-after-brexit/

It’s always good to keep afloat of important info concerning your status. The Local dispels a few myths for you in this article. 

THIS WEEK’S

TOP TIPS

Long Term Improvement

As I already mentioned above, play some games! They’re really lots of fun, and will help so much with ease and fluency. Try Smile Life, really, it’s fun! If you play once a week with your partner, in French or in English (depending on what you’re trying to improve) I promise you will improve your vocabulary and confidence! 

Vocabulary

Learning French: confused about whether a word is feminine or masculine? Check the dictionary or type it into Google, it’s a quick and easy way to get it right! 

Learning English: Have you been following our Word of the Day? If not, do so! Every Tuesday and Thursday on the blog, on Facebook and on Instagram! 

Grammar Spot

Learning French: it’s sometimes possible to determine the gender of a word depending on its ending. Here’s a website which helps you with that! https://wwwling.arts.kuleuven.be/alfagram/nom/desc/genre/inanim/fter.htm#:~:text=noms%20masculins%3A%20%2Dage%2C%20ai,%2C%20%2Disme%2C…

Learning English: follow the next few weeks’ posts about grammar where we explain the rules surrounding modal verbs. You’ll find them on the blog every Monday! 


Ok, do you have any questions? Drop me line, I’ll get back to you ASAP! 

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Groupetude SARL

21 AV Jean Giono

13090, Aix en Provence

Word of the Day: paperback

Améliorez votre anglais avec notre mot du jour !

I love a beautiful hardback edition, but paperbacks are just so handy! You can always fit them in a bag, and they’re light and easy to carry.

When I’m faced with a decision between paperback and hardcover, I always have to ask myself if I plan on taking the book with me to read outside, or if I’ll just keep it on my bedside table for before bed. Hard choice!

So to be clear, a paperback edition is a small, flexible-covered edition of a book, like the one in the picture on the left.

Incidentally, I really enjoyed Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom when I read it years ago. I’d recommend it for someone learning English because it’s got lots of dialogue and the language isn’t overly complicated.

What’s your favorite paperback? Let us know in the comments! Have you read this book? Tell us what you thought of it!

Jeudi, je dis: « J’ai rien capté! »

« J’ai écouté le prof et j’ai rien capté! ». Vraiment? Vous n’avez rien compris? (Cela n’arrivera jamais chez GroupEtude!)

Pas besoin d’être hors connexion pour ne rien capter! Cela peut vous arrivez dans tout un tas de situations.

« Capter » signifie en français familier « comprendre », « saisir ». On entend souvent « je capte rien » pour dire « je ne comprends pas » (I did not catch anything.)

Vous pouvez l’utiliser pour exprimer votre étonnement devant une situation. Cela signifie « je n’ai rien vu venir. »

Bien entendu, au sens propre (au sens premier), le verbe « capter » signifie « recevoir », « recueillir ».

« Elle capte toute l’attention! » = tous les regards sont tournés vers elle.

« ça capte pas par ici! » = le téléphone ne passe pas, vous êtes hors ligne.

C’est bon, vous captez?

Improve your French with a cook book!

A few years ago for his birthday, I got my husband a cook book, and it was a hit! He loved it, and as it turns out, I loved it too. Inside were the key recipes to learn for every region of France. Since we had embarked on an adventure to learn how to cook properly, cooking our way through French regions seemed like a great idea. Another reason we had for trying this method was the TV5 show Echappées Belles, which makes us salivate each and every time!

Since then, I’ve stopped eating meat, which has made this process somewhat more difficult, but with an adjustment here and there, it’s also possible.

So what’s another bonus of this? I learned so much more French vocabulary in the process! The nice thing about cook books is that they’re very clear, they don’t beat about the bush, and they’re authentic. These aren’t French as a foreign language (FLE, acronym in French) books, but real, French guides used by real French people.

An alternative is also watching a cooking show in French, though beyond Master Chef, I don’t have any good recommendations. Do you? I’d love to hear about any good cooking shows out there. I tend to go on You Tube to look for videos of simple recipes, particularly in terms of baking, so that I can really see what the chef is doing!

So, to summarize, here are some great reasons to cook in French:

  • It’s pretty useful in terms of learning all the different names for kitchen utensils.
  • You’ll be able to find alternative products for things you can’t find here, and learn their names!
  • Especially if you’re in the south, there are many vegetable varieties that we don’t necessarily have at home (I’m from Toronto, Canada, so the varieties here in the south are really wonderful).
  • It can be fun, and certainly a different way of learning.
  • France has really got some great regional dishes so you’ll have a wonderful meal for every day of the year!

Do you practice French while cooking? Let us know below!

And don’t forget, you can always join one of our cooking workshops on Thursday evenings!

Groupetude Newsletter! week 18

Weekly English Fix

May

By Klaudyna Piatek May 3rd, 2021

I always love the month of May. Doesn’t everyone? It’s spring, flowers are in bloom everywhere, and the warm weather becomes a more regular visitor. 

So what’s on the menu this month? 

We are going to be organising a series of Facebook Lives for all of you lovely people. Yes, you read that right, we’re giving away lots of learning tips. However, we need your help! Join our group, Groupetude Community, where the Lives will be hosted, and post your questions! There will be two threads, one for English and one for French learners. We will use these to organise the Lives and do our best to answer as well as possible. 

So get ready, we’re starting the week of May 17th! 

THIS WEEK’S

TOP STORIES

French Réunion: the postmen of the peaks

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/03/french-reunion-the-postmen-of-the-peaks

This is an island I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. Interested in La Réunion? Read about the postal workers who scale peaks to collect and deliver the mail. 

EXPLAINED: Do you have to pay duty if you bring furniture from the UK to France?

https://www.thelocal.fr/20210416/explained-do-you-have-to-pay-duty-if-you-bring-furniture-from-the-uk-to-france/

I’ve read a lot of questions concerning this issue on various expat forums, so check it out. The article breaks down the most popular questions, hopefully it’ll help you or someone you know! 

THIS WEEK’S

TOP TIPS

Long Term Improvement

This one is going to seem so obvious, but, make a friend. It’s so much easier to learn when you’ve got someone to talk to. You get free practice and have a good time all the while. If it’s hard to figure out how to make a friend, join a club; anything you enjoy doing really, and you’ll meet people that way.

Vocabulary

Learning French: Here’s a site I found for French vocabulary. Let me know if you like it, it seems to be quite useful! https://www.transparent.com/word-of-the-day/today/french.html

Learning English: check out https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/ it’s fantastic because it’s a dictionary for English learners and gives you a new word each day, along with the level and pronunciation. 

Grammar Spot

Learning French: When I was learning French I had trouble remembering when to use the verb être in the past. Here’s the House of être, useful as a memory tool and the website has some explanations on it too. https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/french/french-i/french-i-the-passe-compose/the-passe-compose-with-etre

Learning English: if you want to compare two things that are the same, you can use “as”. For example, Mary is as tall as John. The melon is as big as my head. You can also do this for the negative, when two things aren’t the same: my tea is not as hot as yours. 


Ok, do you have any questions? Drop me line, I’ll get back to you ASAP! 

Don’t want the newsletter anymore? Just reply with the word “unsubscribe”.

Groupetude SARL

21 AV Jean Giono

13090, Aix en Provence

Lecture du moment en français: Le Dieu du carnage

Vendredi lecture! Cette semaine, je vous recommande ce livre étudié récemment avec des élèves de lycée: Le Dieu du carnage, par Yasmina Reza.

Il s’agit d’une pièce de théâtre moderne et divertissante. C’est très facile et agréable à lire dès le niveau A2.2 / B1.

La situation de départ est simple: 2 couples de parents se réunissent suite à une bagarre entre leurs enfants afin de régler la situation à l’amiable. Mais au lieu de trouver une solution, l’atmosphère va petit à petit se dégrader; la situation va dégénérer et le vrai caractère de chacun va être révélé!

L’avantage d’un texte de théâtre contemporain: l’accès à un français oral! En effet, les paroles des personnages sont très authentiques et vous allez apprendre des nouveaux mots de français familier et des expressions idiomatiques. Sans oublier l’aspect culturel.

Autre avantage: quand les théâtres rouvriront, vous pourrez aller voir la pièce jouée sur scène! En attendant, vous trouverez sur internet une captation du spectacle.