The magic school bus

Our first concern when we arrived in Canada in November was to enroll the kids to school as soon as possible. While the school year in Brazil is from February to December, the following school year which is from September to June had already started here! The twins were only finishing their first year of primary school in Brazil, but they had missed the first months of their second year (Gr.2) here in Canada! And Uriel had missed his first months of primary school (Gr.1)… I was afraid that their reading skills would be behind from the rest of their peers.

Another concern was the language. They had started to read and write in Portuguese and had  adjusted rather well to the Portuguese language. I was completing their education with some French lessons at home and French is also the language we speak at home. However, they’d had little to no contact with the English language before coming here. What would happen now?

In Southern Ontario we discovered that there are four publicly funded school boards, English public, English catholic, French public and French Catholic. Free education of good quality (and free school buses!) was after all one of the main reason we came back. I’m loving it! 🙂

The choice was hard for us. On the most practical side, there is an English public school two blocks from our house. The other option was to send them to a French catholic school a little further away, but with free school bus service. Should we drop them in the English language and see what happens (we know how kids learn fast, right?), or ease the transition and look into a French school (their oral skills are obviously good, but the writing and reading in French in not as… intuitive).

We ended up deciding to send them to a French school for now. The idea is that they will hopefully learn to read and write the harder language first, be exposed to the French Canadian accent (which is not a bad thing in my opinion — they are French and Canadian after all!), then pick up English along the way (most of the kids in school speak English at home and behind the teacher’s back!).

Another fun fact: taking the yellow bus to school is a (very exciting) daily adventure! Their first thought was probably that they would step into the fantastic world of one of their favorite series. In truth, the ride that would take only 10 minutes if I would drive them directly to school takes them around 30 to 40 minutes… (not that they have anything else to do anyway, ha ha)

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Magic school bus

 

Anúncios

Hexalingual

Shortly after my parents visit, the boys started their school year. First year of primary school for the twins and last year of kindergarten for Uriel. It is their first time going to different schools so I was a little apprehensive, but once again I can’t see why because they all went off joyfully to school. No cries, no stress, nothing. Pretty cool. Luckily both schools are a few streets away from home (in different directions), so we all get a healthy walk (or run) before and after school (double for me). Why pay a monthly fee for a gym when you can simply walk your kids to school? 🙂

After I left off, last time I wrote, the language school called me back asking if, in addition to the French classes, I could also teach German (!!!)  “Yes, of course” I replied, while thinking that I certainly didn’t see that one coming. Seeing that I speak six languages apparently greatly impressed them, and in their logic I can certainly teach all of them. They seem not to understand, though, that teaching French for one hour immediately followed by an hour of German is not a great idea. In the first 10 minutes of German, my brain does not compute and it seems to have wires crossed… All the Portuguese, French and German files want to say “hello”, stumble all out of my mouth at the same time, and I get funny looks from my students. Luckily they are aware of my hexalingual status and are too amazed themselves to complain about it. So we all have a good laugh and go on with our lesson! Ha ha.

I am obviously enjoying the teaching job greatly. The school provides the teacher with the teaching program (thus reduced preparation time), facilities (classroom and white board), and students (the secretaries take care of the payments), but in return the teacher gets paid only a little fraction of what the students are paying for lessons. I would definitely earn more if I were giving private lessons. At the same time, most adult students are only interested in evening classes, so that greatly reduces the possibilities of more hours. I only teach from 7PM to 9PM, from Monday to Thursday. I told them that they could give me younger students at earlier hours, but I think that they reserve the English groups for all the rest of the teachers (there is a much greater interest in English, and consequently more English teachers — I am their only French and German teacher for both schools). It is also a great motivation for me to freshen up my German skills (lesen, reden und schreiben — reading, speaking, listening). I review the grammar and try to understand it in such a way that is easy to explain. Easier said than done, especially for me who has as very intuitive way of learning languages, but definitely interesting.

This is all the fun stuff.

Then there is the other side of the coin that makes hubby and I constantly wonder if we haven’t made a huge and expensive mistake moving from Canada to Brazil. There is too much I would like to say about this, it will probably be for another post. It saddens me and exhausts me too. I don’t want to move again so soon.

Our spiritual  and financial struggles are weighing down on us.

Papi et abuela

The car we use at the moment is not ours. A friend from church as lend it to us for as long as we need until we can afford something, or an arrangement has been found by the church. Usually the Lutheran churches (from our domination) (in Brazil), own a car to be used by the pastor, and a house for his family. But not the church here. They are renting the house where we live now, and don’t know what to do about the matter of the car. So, meanwhile, we use this car, an old car, which is ok for small errands in town, but we don’t feel super safe in it to go on long trips.

So when papi and abuela (my dad and mom) arrived on my birthday (Dec. 28th), I had a driver pick me up to go welcome them at the Guarulhos airport and drop them off at the hotel where they are staying (our house is only big enough for our family of five). I felt like a very important person, with my very own chauffeur in a big black car! 😉

My dad arrived from France (via Portugal) and my mom from Argentina with only one hour difference between the flights. That was rather well planed. It gave us the time to hug, chat and walk across the terminals. I had not seen my dad since last time he visited us in Canada. The twins were toddlers and my youngest only a baby. Five years ago. My mom, of course, I had just seen in August, for my grandmother’s funeral. But as for both my mom and dad together it had not happened since before I was married. Fifteen years ago?! Yeah, all these numbers give me a headache too. Let’s just say that I’m happy to see them, and glad that the kids finally get to meet their grandparents in person.

Sadly, the weather has not cooperated. We’ve had rain, after rain, and more rain after that. The locals tell me that summer storms are normal in this season, generally at the end of the day, but so much rain every day, morning day and night, is uncharacteristic. To me it is very much like the rainy seasons we had in Rondônia. A pain to hang dry the clothes.

The first few days were leisurely spent at the hotel  the side of the pool from the hotel. The boys had never been in a real pool before. So many things that I thought would be a given when coming to live in a tropical have simply not happened where we used to live!

The days are exhausting. We all want to enjoy the precious time as much as possible, so they come pick us up (the kids and I — D is not on vacation) late morning before lunch and we come back after supper around 9PM (everyday except Sunday — to my great chagrin my parents don’t go to church). After the first day with the boys, my parents both looked at me in wonder asking how do I do it. Ha! Well, when at home I don’t usually spend all my waking hours playing with them. Just looking at them play is exhausting! Especially Natanael who has so much energy he could climb the walls! No joke, I’m seriously thinking of finding a rock climbing club for him.

Thankfully, once the kids were familiar with their grandparents, I let them spend days together without me. When my body gets very tired doing unscheduled activities, I tend to sprain my ankle. Last time it happened was years ago, so that’s not really a regular thing, but it happened TWICE in the last weeks. No big deal. Just a sign for me to slow down.

In the mean time, I sent my resume to all the language schools in our neighborhood. When I didn’t receive any feedback (they were probably closed on vacation), I also sent it to the one school that is right around the corner from the hotel (farther from home). Luckily, it just happened that they were looking for a French teacher! It’s a big franchise of language schools in Brazil of which they have three branches here in SJC. So I will be teaching two classes in the school close to the hotel and one class here, closer from home. It’s not much, only six hours per week, but it’s a start. They know that I’m willing to teach English too, so we’ll see. The pay is not the greatest either, but it will make a notable difference in our family’s budget. Plus, hopefully, it will be an interesting job to get out of the house for.

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