F is for first

First come, first served.

First things first.

One German translation would be “eins nach dem anderen” — one thing after another; break it down. The other would be “das Wichtigste zuerst” — the most important thing first; prioritize. I don’t think there is an equivalent phrase with both meanings in German. Wow: yet another example of how much we leave unsaid and up to context in English, whereas you tend to spell things out in German.

Trying to get through deadlines and Christmas preparations, maybe you’ll enjoy this cute little motivational sketch as much as I did.

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Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

5 thoughts on “F is for first”

  1. Oh, Chris, if you could only see my long, long list of f-words… It was, in fact, the length of that list, commensurate with the length of my to-do list, that inspired this post!

    Dr. Seuss is, of course, Genesis. Hmm, may have to rethink “S”.

    PS: Have rethought “S”. Thanks :)

  2. Anne,

    Your videos seem to have great resonnance in me. This lovely one reminded me straightaway the great story I use in class as a starter for discussion : “les gros cailloux” http://mazzaroth.ca/textes/page26/page26.html
    But I could only use this with my more advanced learners. Your video says the same thing without words : merci !

  3. Thank you, Alice!
    Your comment got me thinking. The video works very well as a silent movie, but actually, there is quite a bit of text in it. Here is the text I see:

    Charlie’s Dilemma
    9:00 am Monday morning….
    What’s this?
    Looks like another big project!
    Your week, fill me
    1. Everything has to fit!
    2. You figure it out
    Where to begin?
    Important client
    Community service
    Major project
    Oh no. There’s not enough room.
    Put the big rocks in first. – Penelope
    First, I’ll pour out the small stuff…
    …then, I’ll put the big rocks in…
    …after all, the small stuff fills in.
    Is there room for one more?
    Penelope 555-1389
    What big tasks can you put first?

    One could put these bits of text on labels and have students sort them / talk about them.

    For your students of French: Do they have some basic, at least some passive English? Then they could rewrite the short English labels in French, perhaps, or write their own.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. You are right, there is a lot of text in it ! Thank you for having written it down for me!
    Well, yes, a lot of my students of French have basic English, a lot of them are native speakers of English, and some of them have no English at all! so no, I never use English in class, for this reason but also because I think going constantly back and forth between languages slows down the learning process. What I could do with this film is add French captions to it, just translating the captions you’ve so nicely already noted for me!

    Bon week-end,


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