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FrenchMargaret at Eiffel Tower

Margaret Kohler,

Practice or play: French at home

“Boy, those French! They have a different word for everything.”
― Steve Martin, American actor

Today, we blog. But 17,000 years ago people posted something even more awesome: fantastic cave paintings, with colorful animals galloping wild across the rough contours of underground walls.


4th level French students have been exploring, acting out, and wondering about the prehistoric artists who created the paintings in the Lascaux caves of southwest France — and about the French teens who accidentally discovered the caves in September 1940 with their dog, Robot. History is so interesting as we re-imagine its stories…

The common conception of “a caveman” is challenged by the beauty and intelligence of these earliest works of art. Ask a 4th level French student to tell you how they imagine a trip back 17,000 years.

Note to Doctor Who: would the Tardis please come pick up 4th level French for a field trip?


Kindergarten French had their first lessons this week! They learned some greetings and a few things France is famous for. Bonjour, Ours Brun! Ca va?

2014-06-24 12.05.11

We love the beach in Nice!!

We ran out of adjectives to describe our fantastic trip to France!

West Side Middle Schoolers, LENA, Claire, Jami, Rachel and Libby, and French teacher Margaret Kohler spent two weeks exploring Paris and southern France in June. From the Louvre to beaches in Nice, it was fun, cultural and a great language immersion experience.

Just how tall is the Eiffel Tower?

Just how tall is the Eiffel Tower?

Orangina, anyone?

Orangina, anyone?

Notre Dame at sunset was... luminous!

Notre Dame lit up at sunset was… luminous!

A ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris honors the unknown soldier.

A ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris honors the unknown soldier.

The trip included a week immersed in the language — and the life — of a French family.  Each student stayed with a different family, and had a host sister of about the same age. During this week the students attended middle school at Collège Jean Guéhenno, in Lambesc, just outside of Aix-en-Provence.  They went to classes in math, history, French, science, phys-ed — all in French, of course!  In English class, to the delight of the teachers there, our students made wonderful presentations about their home city and school, answering questions and helping the French students carry on English conversations.

At school with host sisters.

At school with host sisters.

Conversation in English class... everything from your favorite music to the virtues of Cedar Point!

Conversation in English class… everything from your favorite music to the virtues of Cedar Point!

Just what was so amazing about France? Paris…Nice…Aix…the picturesque small-town life in Lambesc, the welcoming people, the wonderful food, the sun, the gorgeous scenery, the conversations & friendship…  so many great memories!

View of Marseilles

View of Marseilles

Delectable...mouth-watering, fresh... words just don't do justice to French cuisine!

Words cannot describe how good this place was.

Margaret's host, the phenomenal Mme Faidix, English teacher extraordinaire and a wonderful cook, singer and host :)

Margaret’s host, the phenomenal Mme Faidix, English teacher extraordinaire and a wonderful cook, singer and host :)

All the students felt they increased their fluency in French and had a cultural experience that changed how they understand and look at the world.

Let's pack our bags and go back!

Let’s pack our bags and go back!

The West Side kids were poised and confident travelers. Their Middle School going-out experiences, natural curiosity, and years of speaking the language at West Side prepared them to take advantage of every minute of this special experience.

With their love of learning and abilities in French, it’s sure to be a springboard to future travels.

A big thank you to the families for their support and participation!




Welcome back – Bienvenue!  Another great year has begun.

Some highlights from the end of last year:

– college student Justine from France & Belgium came to West Side from April through June! She helped give lessons in all levels of French classes from K to 8 and also assisted in the Sassafras Room.  We miss you, Justine!

– 6th-8th level students entered the National French Contest for the second year.  Jami S. led the pack with a Silver Medal, with just one point off a perfect score. Students earning Bronze Medals were Claire K, Leen Y, Malak Y, Libby S, Benjamin T, Zaynab L, Emilie W, and Emma M.  Students earning Honors Certificates were LENA H, Janaki P, C.J. L, Wyatt R, Michael T, Parker C, Rachel G, and Sean F. Students earned both national and Ohio chapter recognition, and many received prizes of French books. Congratulations to everyone!

– Middle School students Claire, Jami, Libby, LENA and Rachel accompanied me to France.  It was a wonderful experience!

– We fully implemented the AIM program with students in level 5-8. They put on the plays:  Les trois petits cochons (The 3 Little Pigs), Salut mon ami (Hello, my friend), l’Arbre Ungali (The Ungali Tree) and Le garçon qui joue des tours (The boy who played tricks).  The fluency level in our students has increased substantially with this excellent new curriculum.

The 4th level French put on a fruit market and invited all the Lower El French students to come buy fruit from them!

The Kindergarten had a singalong of all their songs from the year.

The end of the year was packed with excitement and learning at all levels :)

A bientôt!  See you soon,





Students are crazy about les crêpes and many beg me for them mercilessly.

You can easily make them at home! You need a small frying pan, a food processor (or beat by hand), and a spatula. You can double the recipe if your food processor is big enough. This is supposed to make 15-20 dessert sized crepes.

I find that using organic everything just tastes better and none of those nasty GMOs. I use real organic butter, not margarine, unless I’m making vegan crêpes, which are wonderful, too.

In advance: bring the eggs to room temp, melt the butter and let it cool a bit, sift the flour a couple of times. If you’re in a hurry you can bring the eggs to room temp by putting them in a bowl of lukewarm water for a few minutes.

Throw all this in the food processor and whip it up:

  • 2 eggs at room temperature (largest eggs you can find)
  • 1 1/4 cups of milk (also better closer to room temp)
  • 1/4 stick (2 Tablespoons) melted, unsalted butter (or if you use salted, leave out the salt later)
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract. (If it’s for adults you can substitute Grand Marnier instead for a light orange aroma.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of flour (Should be light and sifted. Don’t pack it down.)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar

After running the food processor for about 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the food processor and pulse a few times. Pour batter into a bowl.

Heat the pan on medium heat. Sometimes I put a little butter in the pan — and you’ll definitely need that if you don’t have a nonstick pan. The first crepe isn’t usually that much of a success, especially if the pan isn’t hot yet.

Pick up the pan in one hand. With your “pouring” hand, pour a few tablespoons (I fill up a 1/4 cup measuring cup halfway) directly into the center of the pan in a plop. Swirl the pan. Batter should cover the bottom of the pan in a circle smoothly. If it’s too thick, add a little more milk to the batter so that it runs smoothly. Don’t try to swirl the batter with your pouring hand — just pour it directly in the middle of the pan and swirl the pan in a circular motion, then set on the stove.

Let cook until the edges start to brown — depending on how hot the pan is, that might take a minute or so. Flip the crepe over and let cook a few more seconds.

Just pile them on top of each other. Wrap for later or serve warm.

As you may have noticed, there is only 1 Tablespoon of sugar in a whole batch. When you put a topping on a crepe as well, be sparing! Just a sprinkle of sugar, a smidgen of jam or chocolate, etc. You don’t want to pile up a crepe. Put on your topping, fold in half over it, then in half again. (You don’t roll a crepe unless you plan on using a fork because the toppings will come out the ends.)

Pick up with your fingers and enjoy! Bon appétit!