How to be an Alsatian!

Text read by Mary Peters

Monique & Bernard explain it to us.

The main thing about being an Alsatian is speaking the dialect. You are not a true Alsatian if you do not speak the dialect. But the dialect can change from village to village. In Seebach, the dialect is a wider “country dialect” but in Haguenau and Strasbourg, it is more a “city dialect”. By listening to the dialect, locals can hear where another person comes from. It is not important but just defines the region. 

In Strasbourg, when people hear our local dialect, they say, “Oh, they are farmers”. We simply smile and say nothing. Twenty years ago, I played football for Soultz. When we played against Strasbourg, they laughed at us. But not, when we won the match.  

When somebody in Paris hears us, then we are “German” for them. Again, we simply smile. “We talk as we please “. When we speak French, we have a slightly different accent. The funny thing is that a Provencal accent is acceptable, but an Alsatian accent is always commented upon.

A typical Alsatian likes tradition – folklore traditions, food & drink. He likes his house and garden. His mentality is “my home is my castle.” People are very house proud. 

Alsatians are extremely patriotic at a local level. This is typical of many French regions as well. But in the Alsace, it is part of our history. Over the centuries, we belonged to either France or Germany. We had to accept the government administration, education systems, language of each new “occupier”. Over time, that leaves an impression. 

We have a love-hate relationship with France. We are a rich region, we have our identity, we are conservative, very down to earth. We work hard. Germans like Alsatians because we work a lot, and we do a good job. The quality of our work is very high. 

We are stubborn. An outsider does not have an easy time in the beginning. An Alsatian is also suspicious of new people and things. The younger generation is the same. Over time, when we get to know the outsider, then we open up. But it is a slow process. 

Good food and drink, this is the most important. We are like the French in this. We like life, we like to have a good time. This means spending time with family and friends, going on holidays, visiting other regions, sitting in cafés watching other people. But we also like staying at home (because we have nice homes and maintain them).

We like our identity, our monuments, our symbols in the costumes, our traditions. We also like modernity. We are not backward, we use Facebook and modern technology, but it has to give us a positive benefit. We like structure and cleanliness. After a party, when everything is finished, we immediately tidy up. We were raised like this.

We do not like when the Germans win in football (or any other sport), then we are “French”.

Our region is full of history and beauty. This is what makes it interesting: there is a variety of landscapes, (plains and mountains) authentic villages (half-timbered houses) to large cities (Strasbourg, Colmar, Mulhouse), local cuisine, vineyards (Route du Vin), the architecture. We have many festivals, ranging from local village festivals to the gigantic Christmas Market in Strasbourg and other towns. You can visit many different monuments: churches, castles, monuments from WWII, the museums. The list is endless. 

Even the climate is perfect: it offers everything: winter snow to spring flowers, warm summer days and autumn colours. You can experience all four seasons.

Moving to another region in France? No! We have our roots here; life is good. “Why should I leave Paradise?” We like going away on holidays, but we love to come home again. Home is the best.

Tommy on Tour

Text read by Mary Peters

How did a small bear start a big adventure and what did he learn? Here is a story, based on some true events. 

Chapter 1 – The beginnings. How Tommy came to the Alsace.

In August 2020, a family in Brida posted this message in the Brida Journal:

“Lost a very tiny brown teddy bear, about 7-8 cm tall, somewhere in Brida South. Most likely on the beach. Please let me know if you found him. This bear is a very important member of our family. You will be rewarded.

 E-Mail: lostteddybear@brida.eu 

The family posted the message again in the “Welcome to Brida” Group on WhatsApp last week.

“Missing. Have you seen this Teddy Bear? If you have seen him, where? Please send a message.” 

The family posted a message on the Brida Journal WhatsApp group.

When Frank saw this posting, he commented on what had happened a few months ago. Chahira, from Bejaia in Algeria, wrote at the time: 

 “If he had been in my area, I would have helped him and taken him home first. Then I would have posted him on Facebook so that his pictures could reach the bear’s owner. The bear will inevitably remain sad until he finds the person he used to live with. By the way, he is so cute”. 

It was Monica in Dublin who saw the message in the Welcome to Brida group and she wrote:

“We have a teddy bear with your description in our classroom. Children were very happy to play with him and they even gave him a name: Tommy. Why? Because he has a big tummy, and he is hungry all the time. Is that your teddy bear? Please let me know so I can send him back to his family.”

Julia, over in Mannheim in Germany also saw the message and sent a reply. However, she also opened the door to an incredible possibility. 

“Oh no! I haven’t seen the teddy bear. But I hope it will be reunited with its family soon! When I was a child, I loved a book about a rabbit that got lost too. But he decided to travel the world and send letters to his family. Maybe you know him?” 

Frank combined Julia’s thought with Monica’s message and especially, her use of the past tense. He had to pursue this and so he wrote a message to Monica:

“Hmm, Monica. I’m a little curious. You said the children “were” very happy to play with him and then you continued “and they gave him a name”. Is he still there or has he moved on? You used the past tense.

Julia, I am beginning to think that he has read the book you mentioned and decided to explore the world too.” 

Monica duly replied and shared a little what about Tommy had been up to. 

“You are right, Frank. We have the teddy. He is still here. The big children went to big school and now Tommy is waiting in the library, in the company of some puppets. I think it’s better for him to travel back home.” 

However, by now, others in the group had become aware of Tommy’s situation. And they commented on it. Monique, from Seebach in France, wrote,

“I also think he must travel around the world. If he passes through France, he will be able to stop in our region. We will accommodate him for a few days and make him discover our beautiful landscapes. Maybe, he will not even want to leave again.”

And further east in the Bavarian town of Nördlingen, Walter wrote,

“I think we should let him have a travel partner so that he is not so lonely when he travels around the world.”

Soon, everyone was thinking about what to do with Tommy.

Frank wrote, “Tommy is originally from Brida, so near the French/Spanish border. I think Walter has a good idea. Walter, where should Monica send Tommy, the next destination? Bavaria, or to the Alsace, or to Mannheim so that he can say hello to Julia? Or, perhaps to Olivier to discover Paris? You choose!”

Walter thought Tommy should actually decide and also wrote what he could offer him. 

 “Ask him what he likes best. All of Europe is beautiful. I have beer and white sausages.” 

Monica, being pragmatic, took over the reins and made an announcement. 

“Ok, I am going to check the flights and announce the destination.” 

And so, Tommy spent another night in the school library, in the company of some puppets, completely unaware of his own fate. 

The next day, Frank had some thoughts and of course, some questions. First was, what advice could the group give to Tommy? He remembered that Julia had travelled far away and had gained valuable experience. Would that be something for Tommy? Frank posted in the group: 

Frank had been thinking and of course, had some questions.

 “Tommy will continue his travels from Dublin to a new destination. Julia has some brilliant advice for Tommy. Please share some of your advice so that Tommy can have a great experience.”

And he provided the link which tells the story of Julia’s exciting experience. You can read and listen to it here

But Frank was also curious to find out what Tommy had been up to in Dublin. He asked Monica a question:

“Monica, did Tommy write a diary or record his adventures in your school?” 

Frank also thought about Walter’s comment on finding a travelling partner for Tommy. Who could accompany Tommy? Then, he had an idea. Would a certain “Mr Cuddles” be interested? He sent another message.

“Hi Carolina, Would Mr Cuddles be interested in joining Tommy on a trip? I will explain in a minute.”

About an hour later, Carolina, who lives in Wissembourg, sent her reply. 

“Hi Frank, Yes, I think a trip is what Mr. Cuddles needs right now. Lately he has been feeling a little bored and he would like to meet new friends and experience new adventures. What should I pack for him?” 

 She also sent a picture of Mr Cuddles, lying on the sofa, basking in the sunshine. 

I’m ready for a new adventure

“I’m ready for a new adventure” was the caption. 

In the meantime, Monica had also replied to Frank’s question. 

“We had a penguin who went home with the kids every weekend. We wanted to do the same with Tommy. Unfortunately, with these COVID-19 regulations, we had to stop Tommy’s trips. 

The penguin also kept a diary with events, activities, drawings and pictures from the families he spent time with. But not Tommy.”

Shortly before 8pm, Frank received another message from Monica. 

“Let’s go to Alsace. I have packed Tommy in a nice, cosy box and posted it to Monique and Bernard. Hopefully, he will send a postcard. 

A few minutes later, Monique sent a reply:

“Hi together. We are watching out for Tommy’s arrival. We will keep you informed. See you soon.”

Later in the evening, whilst drinking her evening tea, Monica replied to Monique.

“Thank you, Monique. I know Tommy will be in good hands. Have fun.”

Now you know the story of how Tommy travelled from Brida to the Alsace, via Dublin, and possibly, Algeria. And who knows where else he had been?

Monique and Bernard have already started preparing an itinerary for him when he arrives here.

What did Tommy learn in Dublin? Well, apart from improving his English in Monica’s school, making a whole lot of new friends, he also learned that it might be a good idea to write a little diary about his new experiences.

And, I think, Tommy would like to share this with you all when Monique and Bernard and perhaps others, show him the Alsace. 

Let’s see what happens, shall we?

Would you like to show Tommy the Alsace and improve your English?
Write to Frank in the form below.

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The Story of a Song.

Text read by Mary Peters

How does inspiration become a song?
Jean-Yves Ragot has an anecdote.

Here is the story of a song. We go back…35 years! Is it possible? January 1985…

Once upon a time… there was a dishwasher and a rhythm that was running through my head. So, I started to sing this rhythm by tapping on the tray of the dishwasher. I had fun re-enacting the moment…Come on, smile 😉

Copyright Jean-Yves Ragot

Then, little by little, I began to sing “in yoghurt”. Singing “in yoghurt” is a technique that consists of singing a little bit of anything to a melody when you do not yet have the idea of a text.

 Wikipedia gives us this example:

During the composition of Yesterday, Paul McCartney had no lyrics and started by singing “Scrambled eggs…”. “(scrambled eggs)”.

There too, for my future song, I had fun reconstructing, with “yoghurt” which is meant to sound “English” 🤗 in

Copyright Jean-Yves Ragot

Once I had finished composing the music for the verses and the chorus, I had to replace the “yoghurt” with real words.

Ten years earlier, my sister had given me a huge, little book that had left its mark on me as it has on millions of readers all over the world: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, a descendant of the great Johann Sebastian.

It tells the story of a seagull that didn’t want to spend its life, like the others, watching for the fish it would eat, but that was constantly trying to go beyond its limits in ecstasies of gliding flights.

 A small book of about forty luminous pages, a poetic parable and philosophical tale, full of quotations that have become classics such as: “You can rise even higher because you wanted to learn”. “You must strive to see the true gull – the good one – in each of your fellow creatures and help them discover it in themselves. This is what I mean by love”.

In my song lyrics, I then choose to highlight Jonathan’s determination to always start over, to try, to remain faithful to his deepest aspiration, even if it means being mocked by others – in the book he will be excluded from the clan.

 At that time, with Michel Gangloff on keyboards and rhythm programming, and Claude Ruff on guitars and flute, we were giving concerts all over Alsace. Very quickly, the song became a key title in our repertoire. An unforgettable memory linked to this song. We arrived in the large hall – where the Haguenau Youth Forum was to be held – to settle down and adjust the sound. And there, on the doorstep, the three of us remain astonished and amazed: creative hands had secretly made an impressive seagull that covered the whole wall of the stage! May they be forever thanked!

And this song, we quite naturally placed it at the top of the B-side of our LP, released some time later.

A song that I have always kept in my repertoire. Like under this link, at the moment, with my accomplice Chris. Good listening!

 So much for the story of a song.

Let’s move on to the announced BONUS, to make you, I hope, smile in these gloomy times.

Rémi Boos is a prodigious pianist – don’t hesitate to look for other videos on his channel – and a fabulous joker. He was my accompanist for a few years and he remains a friend with whom I sometimes cooperate on certain occasions. Four years ago, he came up with an idea for a children’s song (not especially for children) that would take the opposite tack to what we hear, and expect, most of the time. I wrote the text, he did the music and the arrangement. And he did the drawings and the editing for this video. As for the voice…it’s mine…yes, it is!

                    Good (re)discovery below!

     Wishing you well.

                 And like Jonathan…

                                    Jean-Yves


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En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.

Tour de France,Stage 11 – Lyon.

Text read by Mary Peters

Geneviève guides us through France’s second city.

Ah, you must set foot in one of the largest renaissance old quarters in Europe. Welcome to “Vieux Lyon”. At the end of the middle ages, Lyon had a thriving silk industry. During the 16th century, there were around 180 000 looms in Lyon! Merchant families from all over Europe settled here. These wealthy merchants built marvellous renaissance style houses. Today, about three hundred of these remain in the Saint-Jean, Saint Georges and Saint-Paules quarters. 

The demands of the silk industry required a network of renaissance passageways called “Traboules”. These underground paths in the Croix Rousse area (“The hill that works”) allowed silk workers to transport their merchandise quickly and easily to the Saône River. Today, there are around 40 which you can explore. The best place to start your adventure is around the Quai Fulchiron Rolland and the Rue des Trois Maries.

On “the hill that prays” is the famous “Fouvière Basilica”. It soars eighty-five metres and is thirty-five metres wide. Although built at the end of the 19th century, the architecture is a mixture of Byzantine, Gothic and Romanesque styles. It has four towers which are almost fifty metres high and represent the four Cardinal Virtues. 

The Basilica of Our Lady of Fourvière is made up of two superimposed churches. The first one, made entirely of Italian pink granite, Carrara marble, green onyx or ebony and ivory, has three superb domes with six stained glass windows that let the light in. Everything is supported by sixteen columns. There are eight chapels, each lit by glass windows as well as beautiful mosaic panels.

When you visit this church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, you can admire the altar. It shows the Holy Virgin freeing Adam and Eve from hell. There is the Virgin of Millefaut in the baroque style, the monumental red marble staircase of wisdom with the Statue of Wisdom which welcomes visitors.

North of the town centre is one of the largest urban parks in France, the “Parc de la Tëte d’Or”.  It is the foremost botanical garden in France with over 20,000 different plants. Go and look at the graceful 19th-century greenhouses! In spring, you can admire the international rose garden. For families with kids, the park is a must-do. There is also a zoo. On the “African Plains”, you can see zebras, lions and giraffes and other African fauna. 

The “Presqu’île” is a finger of land between the Rhône and Saône rivers. In the 18th century, engineers drained marshes and connected the island with dry land. The undertaking was huge and today you can enjoy 19th-century architecture, wide plazas, shops, cultural institutions, restaurants, cafes, bars, and nightclubs. The Lyon Opera House and the Town Hall are also located here. When you are hungry, choose a restaurant in the Rue Mercière.  

A Gallo-Roman theatre, the “Ancien Théâtre de Fourvière”, is on the left bank of the Saône River. It was rediscovered in the late 19th century and restored. Built two thousand years ago, it is still used in the summer months for the “Nuits de Fourvière” theatre festival. The modern Odeon theatre is next door.   

Cinemagoers should pay homage to the Lumière brothers. At the “Institut Lumière”, you can enjoy “moving pictures” (movies, documentaries, and cartoons). The main attraction is the lovely art nouveau mansion with its elegant rooms. It was built by the father of Louis and Auguste Lumière in 1899. You can study the ingenious creations from which we benefit today. It was the “cinematograph” which changed entertainment forever. 

You shouldn’t leave Lyon without exploring Lyon’s murals. There are around 100 large paintings on walls around the city. You can try to discover them by yourself. Or, book a private (and expensive) tour with a guide. But you can download an App onto your phone. Lyon’s original fresco is “The Canuts Mural”. It tells the history of the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood. 

The food market in “Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse” is named after one of France’s culinary giants. Do your food shopping and get a delicious Lyonnaise meal and also buy regional specialities to take home. 

Which leads us to “Lyonnaise Cuisine”. Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France. You should have a meal in a typical local restaurant, a “Bouchon” or go to a Michelin starred restaurant. In a Bouchon, chefs prepare meals usually eaten by workers. It is food “that sticks to your ribs”. Marinated deep-fried tripe, usually served with a garlic and herb sauce. Or the “Andouilette” which is a sausage made from tripe and cooked with onions. Do not worry, it is not all tripe! The “Coq au vin” is also traditional here. Recommended are Lyonnaise potatoes, which are sliced and pan-fried with onions and parsley. 

Lyon’s gastronomic reputation dates back to antiquity. The city, then called “Lugdunum” had a monopoly on the wine trade. It also boasted a famous chef named Septimanus! However, in Lyon, gastronomy was a woman’s responsibility, and the local cuisine owes much to the women known as the Mères Lyonnaises. They originally cooked in bourgeois families, but soon started their own restaurants. The city’s chefs give ample opportunities to discover everything from simple cooking to “haute cuisine”. 

Now, after so much city atmosphere, it is time to head back to the Alps. See you there! 

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Education 3, When I went to school.

Carolina, who lives in Wissembourg, went to school in Lisbon.

I went to a school in the suburbs of Lisbon from 1997 to 2010. We usually had classes Monday to Friday, from 8.30 am to 5 pm with 2 afternoons free. Always Wednesday, the other one changed every term. There were about 30 of us in a class.

In the beginning, when we were between 6 and 10 years old, we had Portuguese, History, Social Studies, Maths, Geography, Music and Sports.

Then, when we were older, up to about aged 15 we learned Portuguese, History, English, French, Art, and Sports.

Then in the final three years, things changed. I could choose from different options. I chose the Science and Technology path, (Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, Portuguese). For me it was easy, I liked maths. The other options were not for me. I was not great at Maths, but even worse at humanities. And for the future, it was better to go this way. 

For the core subjects, you had 2 lessons per week of 90 minutes each. The other subjects: only 45 minutes. For the most important core subjects, we had 3 units.

My best friend chose languages. So, I was alone in my group. I did not see her that often, we did not have the same interests either. But we are still in contact today.

Until the last 3 years, the teaching was very theoretical. There were PowerPoint presentations, we had to ask and answer questions and do group tasks. It was interactive, with a lot of dialogue and a lot of homework. In the beginning, on the weekends, we had so much homework, that I met my friends in the library. We studied and researched together. We had more contact and not everyone was at home with Google.

In the last 3 years, we started to get our hands dirty. We had a lab, a lot of biology and chemistry lessons. We did experiments, calculations, and interpreted the results, and wrote reports. We spent a lot of time outside for our physics lessons and completed simple experiments and measurements. It was fun.

For Portuguese, we read Portuguese literature. But because it was not my thing, I always looked for summaries from other students. One book did capture my attention. It was The City of the Blind, written by José Saramago. I read it when I was 15 but did not quite understand it. It’s good, very deep, I wanted to read it.  

I had average marks. It was enough to get through. Grading was from 1 to 20 with 20 being the highest score. You needed a 10 in all subjects. I had 10 in maths and sports. It was the minimum to get through. I did not have much motivation because my learning environment was difficult. I did not want to go home. My teachers just said I had to concentrate more, work harder. Others tried to motivate me, but I did not understand their message. During my school years, I lacked a healthy learning environment.

I graduated and then I started university and studied physiotherapy. My grades were average, I was not motivated, unsure of my choice of subject, so I decided to quit after one semester. I took some time out and had time for myself. My motivation returned and I caught up on everything, repeated my A-levels. I studied on my own, at home. I had an average score of 18 points. I did not do all subjects, just focused on science. Then I was accepted in the science faculty and I started to study Energy and Environmental Engineering.

Teaching materials? Some teachers used PowerPoint, but often it was a normal textbook and a board. We had notebooks and something to write with. For science, the school provided the material.

For me, school alone is not there to prepare one for life. One learns how to think and how to solve problems. I did not have that expectation. Today, for my work, I probably apply around 20% of what I studied at University. However, our teachers taught us how to think, find information and apply it outside of the classroom. The role of teachers should be to show us which tools are available and challenge us to implement them on a daily basis.

My favourite teacher was a Russian woman who taught calculus and algebra. She was cold, militaristic, polite, and extremely disciplined. Her intentions were good. Despite the subject being difficult, it was fundamental because it served as the basis for our lessons in the future. It was clear to me that she wanted the best for us. She tried to do her best. She challenged us and I love challenges.

I cannot say much about schools today. I have too little contact. But, I have the impression that many of today’s children spend a lot of time in front of screens. Adults are partially responsible for this. Children have more difficulties with social interaction.

I liked going to school. I have fond memories of this time.

To stop learning? Never!


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En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.