Bon voyage, Powell by EAB on September 30, 2012

We will be without one of our favorite teachers this fall, but we look forward to his return home to Biarritz at Christmas and his return to English at Biarritz in the new year. Powell will be missed by his students, adults and children alike, not to mention by his fellow teachers, and we wish him an enjoyable and profitable trip. Bon voyage, Powell!

Here is the news in his own words:

As some of you know, I wear several hats, English teacher being one of them. If you came to our school’s year-end cookout and celebration in June this year or last, you know that tap dance teacher is another! In addition, I play an active role in my local church, the Eglise Baptiste Biarritz. In fact, it is this church which has opened up its facility, the Salle Migron, for the activities of other associations during the week, including English at Biarritz and my tap dance classes.

My involvement in the church includes occasionally leading the Sunday morning worship service or preaching a sermon, teaching in home Bible study and prayer groups, and ministering to the homeless. Now that I have been living in France for nearly two years and have put down some roots in Biarritz, I want to set some time aside to grow in the knowledge of God and to be further equipped to serve God. To that end, I am participating this fall in a 3-month training program designed to prepare young people for Christian ministry. After several weeks of vacation in the US to see my family and friends, I’ll return to France to Bourg-St.-Andéol in Ardèche for a few weeks, and then the program continues in Thumeries near Lille through December. I’m looking forward to devoting a season to prayer, studying the Bible and worshipping God.

To my students: I will sorely miss the wonderful children that have been in our Wednesday morning classes as well as my private students and my Friday adult conversation group. The capable staff of English at Biarritz will take up the slack for me, and I look forward to seeing the progress that will be the result of your classes this fall. Work hard, and be nice to Audrey! I’ll see you in 2013!

It’s a wrap! by EAB on August 8, 2012

We’ve just concluded 4 weeks of our annual summer English and surfing program. We thoroughly enjoyed the participation of several of our school’s year-round students and were blessed to get to know and teach many children for the first time. The students this summer came from Biarritz as well as from other regions of France. Families from Paris, Bordeaux, Pau, Toulouse, etc., coming to the Pays Basque on vacation heard about English at Biarritz and our summer program and liked the idea of “vacances utiles”, a profitable vacation. The kids loved the surfing, of course, but they also had a blast learning English, believe it or not. Some of them came back for a second and even a third week with us!

We developed our own syllabus and printed our own spiral-bound booklets for different levels of English ability. Many of the games, songs, and activities that we have created or adapted for our school-year program were included. “Simon Says” was a big hit as always as well as several brand-new activities such as “20 Questions” and “Tumbleweed, Texas”.

Our growing partnership with Biarritz Paradise Surf School at Marbella beach in Biarritz also proved successful once again. The children always love the instructors and enjoy the occasions when Audrey and Powell join them in the water. This year, the surf school had CDs available for purchase with photos of our students in action on the waves. We feel fortunate to be able to work with such a friendly and professional surf school.

We’re already thinking about next summer and the changes we’ll make so that our English and surfing program will be better than ever! Of course, what makes it so great for us is the wonderful kids we get to work with. We are so grateful to them and their families for such a blessed summer!

Another holiday weekend! by EAB on May 18, 2012

May in France is full of holidays, it seems. So far we’ve had Labor Day on May 1st, Armstice Day on May 8th, and yesterday we celebrated the Ascension of Christ. When a national holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday as it has in this case, stores and businesses are closed, and many workers also take a day off from work on the Monday or Friday in between the holiday and the weekend. The commonly used expression in French for this is “faire le pont”, to make the bridge. The result is a 4-day weekend!

What is the Ascension holiday all about? The religious observation of Jesus’ ascension into heaven following his resurrection always falls on a Thursday, 40 days after Easter. Why is that? Here’s the story as told by a couple passages from the Bible:

After his suffering [the crucifixion], he presented himself to them [the disciples] and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God … “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” … While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

Ten days later, the disciples were together in Jerusalem when Jesus’ promise about “power from on high” was fulfilled as the Holy Spirit fell on them on the day of Pentecost. So that means we have one more holiday to look forward to in May!

Our school appears in Biarritz Magazine ! by EAB on May 9, 2012

In last week’s blog entry, we wrote about our English and surfing classes, and now, a blurb and a photo about the summer Learn and Surf programme appears in the May issue of Biarritz Magazine, arriving this week in every mailbox in town! To see it, click here, and then click on the cover photo and turn to page 29. The word is spreading!

Summer English and surfing programmes for youth by EAB on May 2, 2012

After an April of solid rain, May is off to a sunny start, and aren’t we all glad for that! Spring has scarcely come out of hiding, and already our thoughts are turning toward summer. Around Biarritz, it’s a constant subject of conversation, only natural when the town multiplies ten times in population during peak summer season.

What we at English at Biarritz are most looking forward to in July and August is our programme for French children and youth, ages 8 to 15, combining surfing with English lessons. We are pleased to partner again with our friends from the Paradise Surf School whose accredited surf instructors are always a big hit with the children. Last year, in addition to great conditions for learning to surf, we enjoyed a wonderful four weeks of English lessons and fun activities around town, with many of the kids signing up for multiple weeks. Most of the children’s families live in Biarritz, Anglet, or Bayonne, but we think this would be a great opportunity for parents coming to vacation in the area who want some time to themselves during the day.

The programme runs from 10 AM until 4 PM, Monday through Friday beginning July 9, 2012, and each Monday thereafter for four weeks. Depending on surf conditions, we may start the day in the water, return to the school to have lunch together (each child brings his own), and then have English class in the afternoon, or go surfing in the afternoon and learn English in the morning. The language lessons don’t just take place in the classroom either. We may take trips to the market, to the chocolate museum, to the park, etc.

We’re looking forward to having fun with our students this summer! For details, see our Learn and Surf page where you can download the sign-up form and the promotional flyer or contact us with your questions. Bring on the summer!

We’re on television! by EAB on April 25, 2012

We have appeared in a nationally televised rugby news show! Check out Audrey, the director of our school, in action teaching French to several of the rugby players of the Aviron Bayonnais who come from New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. The Aviron Bayonnais is a professional team from Bayonne just north of Biarritz which plays in the elite Top 14 rugby division in France. In this video, Joe Rokocoko, a star player from New Zealand is interviewed, and Audrey’s class is in progress behind the reporter. She teaches half a dozen professional players at the team headquarters twice a week. Most of this interview is in English subtitled in French. Watch it here!

New Youtube video for summer programme by EAB on April 21, 2012

If you haven’t seen it yet, English at Biarritz recently uploaded our very first YouTube video!

On a beautiful, cool February day, Audrey and Powell gathered some students for an afternoon video shoot with Fabien Le Boulluec of Seven Angels Films. Fabien shot Powell teaching a class at the Domaine de Migron in one of the two rooms we use, and then we piled into a few vehicles and reunited at the Côte des Basques for some shots of the students talking and laughing. Next, we went down to the Grande Plage, which is the central beach of Biarritz in front of the Casino, where we gave a quick surf lesson to two of the girls and sent them into the water. Finally, Fabien filmed our director Audrey describing our summer programme for English-speaking students from abroad who would like to spend a week or two on the Basque coast learning French with the option of taking surfing lessons too. Fabien also captured some footage of the local surfers who were enjoying the great surf conditions and the sunny, warmer-than-usual winter day.

You can see the results of our afternoon here: YouTube channel
See below for some “behind the scenes” photographs of the filming. Our thanks go out to Fabien for his excellent work shooting and editing, and likewise we express our gratitude to our friend Josh Menning who laid down a groovy guitar riff for our background music. We hope you enjoy the video and share it with your friends who might be interested in coming to spend some time with us this summer. Whatever your current ability in French, there can’t be a more enjoyable way to take it to the next level!

The Cup Game by EAB on January 7, 2012

The cup game became popular in church youth groups in the United States in the 1980′s as a fun activity for young people and has since spread to other countries through children’s television shows, music videos, and more recently YouTube.  It is played with sturdy plastic cups, one per person, turned upside down on a table top.  Players around the table tap the cups, pick them up, put them down, and clap to create a drum-like rhythm.  There are several variations, but in the most common one, players complete the rhythmic pattern by passing their cups one person to the right.  Combined with the other movements, this creates a sort of “dance” of the cups.  It can be done to music to add an interesting beat or all by itself where the group starts with a slow tempo and then gradually increases speed to see who can keep up as it becomes faster and more difficult. 

Powell, one of the teachers at English at Biarritz, played the cup game during his childhood in the US and has introduced the game to our students.  This activity teaches action words such as “clap”, “tap”, “grab”, and “pass”, in addition to exercising motor skills, coordination, and musical ability.  Most of all, it is a lot of fun and can be enjoyed by all ages!

Thanksgiving 2011 by EAB on December 23, 2011

The origin of the American holiday of Thanksgiving is most commonly associated with a harvest celebration by colonists at Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts in 1621.  The colonists, commonly known as the “pilgrims”, were English Protestants who came to the New World for the freedom to practice their religious beliefs without persecution.  During the 3-day feast along with their native American neighbours, they celebrated God’s blessings on them through their first year and their successful harvest.  Early American presidents regularly proclaimed days of prayer and thanksgiving, and Abraham Lincoln finally created an annual national day of thanksgiving in 1863. 

Today, Thanksgiving in the United States is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.  Along with Christmas, it is the most significant family meal of the year where traditional dishes include turkey with bread stuffing and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, green been casserole, and pumpkin pie.  In the stereotypical American family, the enormous meal is followed by watching American football on television, notably the Dallas Cowboys.  English at Biarritz has participated with the Association Protestante Baptiste de Biarritz in sharing the annual Thanksgiving meal with our community.  Parents, children, and friends, up to 70 guests on one occasion, fill the festively decorated Salle Migron for this taste of American culture and cuisine.

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