Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Lost in translation

Back in school, I have been teaching the ten and eleven year olds about the history of the modern Olympics, in French.  This has been no mean feat for me, as I have had to master saying numbers like 1896 and saying 'Olympique' with a Gallic flourish (thank heavens for my own personal tutor at home at the moment, in the shape of our French work experience student, Elodie).

Having picked apart various powerpoint slides related to the re-birth of the Olympics and Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the children were doing supremely well, using words and phrases they already knew, along with educated guesses based on words that are very similar in both English and French.  

We had reached the end of Coubertin's life, signalled with a quick slitting of my own throat and the solemnly-spoken sentence, 'Baron de Coubertin est mort le 2 septembre 1937'.  Death was in the air and the children were with me, keen to learn more. 

The next sentence was, 

'Son corps est enterré en Suisse.' 

Given the written similarity between 'corps' and 'corpse' and the gruesome nature of many of the children, I felt there was a more than even chance of us picking apart the meaning of this sentence, which indeed we did.  The children soon understood that de Coubertin's body was buried in Switzerland.

The next sentence was,

'Mais son coeur est enterré en Grèce.'

A little mime for 'coeur' gave the children the necessary hint that this sentence was about the Baron's heart. A sea of enthusiastic hands waved in the air. 

(OFSTED please note: we do try to discourage the whole 'hands up' thing.  But there are times when the children are so pleased to have worked out an answer (not necessarily the right one) that they just can't restrain themselves and do the whole 'tap-your-own-shoulders-to-let-me-know-you -want-to-speak thing.)

I chose a child to answer.

I waited with baited breath.

The chosen child spurted out,

'But his heart was buried in Greece!'


The children, judging by their contemplative faces, had understood the sentence and were thoughtfully mulling over what this last wish of the Baron's tells us about his love of the Olympics, and all its ideals.

Then a hand shot up.

I nodded in the child's direction, giving permission for him to speak.

'But what KIND of grease was it buried in?'

PS Day off today (to recover my composure...) so I am hoping to find time to blog-hop in a way I have not blog-hopped for ages!


  1. Completely brilliant, you can always depend on children for a hilarious take on life.

  2. Haha, there's always one isn't there! Sounds like you have the patience of a saint, am full of admiration! Have a lovely week, Claire xxx

  3. Lovely post and so funny what children can say!

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Ahh, loved this. Made me smile. M x

  5. Loved it! Kids think so literally.

  6. Classic! That made me chuckle.
    Carol xx

  7. Absolutely brilliant!
    Made me laugh

  8. Kids do say the funniest things lol :)