When I applied for TAPIF in the fall of 2010, I had some knowledge of the program but no real idea of everything I was getting into! The application for next year, 2013-2014, has just been made available online and can be viewed here and more information about the program can be seen here.
For all of you new, interested applicants, here’s what the timeline of my application process looked like…
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.
Ohmygoshyouguys. I’m going back to France on Tuesday! How, you ask?
When I bought my ticket to come back in May, I basically decided to buy a round trip ticket from Paris to New York and chose a random date in August for my return flight. And it’s Tuesday!
I still haven’t heard if I’ve been renewed for the assistant position. Technically, I could hear anytime up to mid-September (it’s ridiculous). If I was renewed, I would come back to the US to get my visa and be back in France by October 1st, but my hopes aren’t high. So, this time my visit is meant for pleasure and a bit of job hunting. I’ll stay with the boy, relax outside in the garden with my tiny French coffee, ride my bike in the Hazebrouck countryside, and stroll down the (one) shopping street in town.
I’ve been reflecting on my TAPIF experience lately while I am waiting to hear back if I’ve been renewed or not. For all of you newcomers, here are some tips that I wish I would’ve had before I headed over to France.
Finances depend on the city you’re placed in. I lived in a city of 40,000 people about 20 minutes outside of Lille. My apartment was provided by the high school I worked for and cost me 96 euro/month, all inclusive. I paid 26 euro/month for my cell phone plan (with internet). Once I took care of my monthly payments, that left me with around 600 euro/month to play with, meaning I was able to travel on holidays, go out with friends, and eat out when I wanted to. Remember, you’re working as a teaching assistant so you’re living a teaching assistant’s lifestyle. Ask your referent to help you find a place. If you’re working for a high school, ask if they have an assistant apartment! Look at the average price of apartments in the city where you’ll be working and subtract it from your paycheck – can you make it work? I hope so!
Yesterday was a great day for many applicants to the TAPIF program! Congratulations on those who were accepted to be an assistant for next year, keep your head up for those of you who were put on the waitlist, and for those who were denied a position – there are other ways to get to France!
I remember that day, when I finally found out that yes, I would be in France next year. It was a good feeling considering that I got my first choice and would be headed towards the north, working for the Academie de Lille. This exhilarating moment was then followed by more waiting, until I received my arrete de nomination later in July, which finally told me exactly what school and what city I would be working in (it wasn’t Lille, but rather 20 minutes away by train). The waiting was terrible, but in the end it all paid off. The program has been disorganized at times but extremely rewarding at others.
Once again, I am still playing the waiting game. As a renewal applicant, I should find out sometime during the month of April if I have been offered a position again. At least this time I know that I will definitely be in the Academie de Lille (renewals can only work in the same district after having done the program once already), but if I am accepted, I’ll have to wait until late summer to know exactly where it is that I’ll be working for the school year to come.
So, congratulations to all the new assistants (and especially to those placed in the north)! You’re on your way to France!
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.