Exactly one year ago, I started my first day of work as an English teaching assistant in Douai, France. If things would’ve worked out as I was hoping for, I would be doing the same thing today! Unfortunately, that’s not the case – but when I look back at this year and everything that has happened, I am like whoa.
I spent 8 months in France, teaching 12 hours a week to French high school students. I definitely had my ups (like my great class of senior students who always greeted me with a smile) and downs (like that one time that I ended up yelling in French at my sophomores who didn’t want to listen to a word I was saying), but I definitely learned a lot. If I ever have the opportunity to do the assistantship again, I would take it.
I lived in a small city but made great friends from all over, including my roommates from Spain, Italy, and Germany and my other assistant friends living nearby.
The time of year has come to France, when thousands of foreigners enter the country to begin their year abroad as a language teaching assistant. Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans, Spanish, Italians, and many more have been placed in elementary, middle, and high schools all around the country to serve as a cultural and linguistic link to their respective country and language, and I so wish I were participating in this program again!
But, I was unfortunately not renewed for the job and am therefore continuing to hang out in France, trying to find some form of employment!
I am now giving private English lessons to 4 clients, who are all very different. It’s nice because I am making a bit of money on the side and getting to practice adjusting my teaching methods for different students at different levels with different needs. I am working with a 10-year-old whose family is moving to the States next year, a girl my age who is preparing for an English airline exam, a boy my age who is getting ready to travel abroad, and a businessman whose company just went international who will need to be able to express himself in English. Each lesson is personalized, so that means I’m preparing a lot on the side, but getting a lot of experience teaching in varied situations.
It’s been three weeks since I came back to the north of France!
In the past week, I’ve looked for work in Lille, visited Paris for two days, participated in a traditional cousinade, and started giving private English lessons.
The job search scene has been full of ups and downs, but I am trying to feel optimistic. I finally called the Parisians to see if I had been renewed for the year, and their answer was no. In fact, they informed me that they weren’t renewing anyone for the year because of the 20% decrease in assistant positions. This is totally false, because I know some British assistants who were renewed, but whatever! They also told me that I could call the Académie de Lille to ask them directly starting on September 3rd. This way I can check with the school district itself to see if there were any assistants that pulled out last minute and I may be able to take their place.
Last week was my first round of observations, and I must say it went rather well! In several classes, I’ve stood in front of the room and the students asked me questions about myself ranging from “What is your name?” to “Out of the seven deadly sins, which one do you identify with?” Haha! I can certainly identify with the grammar issues that most students have trouble with. I remember when I was just starting to learn French; I was timid to speak and I definitely made silly errors. I can easily understand the mistakes they are making, thanks to my knowledge of French, which helps me naturally explain what they’ve done wrong.