For my friends and family I’m in touch with regularly, you already know some of my thoughts, frustrations, and negative experiences working as a language assistant in a French middle school and high school through TAPIF.
So far, the main things I do like about this experience include getting to live in Strasbourg, meeting and working with some very great people, speaking lots of French, and traveling during my exorbitant amount of vacation time. But the teaching part isn’t all terrible either, and this post I will be focusing on some of the positive/amusing aspects of this job.
1. My youngest students (10-12 year olds) are generally adorable, excited, and hilarious at least sometimes. They also frequently say “Haylo meees” to me in the hallways, and then run away giggling.
2. I have relatively free license in many of my classes to make up lessons about whatever I want and however I want. Some of my better lesson topics I’ve adapted from other blogs, other teachers, or created myself:
-English Idiomatic expressions
-very basic environmental hydrology lesson
-analyzing political cartoons
-MLK Jr bio and speech extract
-planning a backpacking trip in the American Southwest
-climbing in general, Alex Honnold free-soloing
-Getting the students to act out a scene from one of the Friends christmas episodes
-Using the Grinch song and video around Christmas….so many excellent alliterations
-Simon says (this is far and away the #1 most popular activity with the younger students)
-helping the students write to English-speaking penpals
-Women on 20 dollar bills
-ordering food at a restaurant, practicing a dialogue
3. Students say funny things all the time. They frequently ask me questions like, “Do I need to respond to these questions in English?” I either sigh or have a good laugh, and then they look very indignant when I say “yes.”
4. I have gotten to chaperone some field trips including 2 excursions to the movies, one trip to the Musée Zoologique,
and next week I am accompanying a class to a very strange-looking play/ballet called Les Ombres Blanches: http://www.tjp-strasbourg.com/les-ombres-blanches/
5. I have developed a slight post-meal coffee habit. I don’t know that this is a positive thing. But it’s very tasty. The lycée in particular has excellent expresso for only 60 cents. Plus teachers occasionally buy it for me.
6. Every once in a while, I have a class that goes shockingly well for whatever reason. That’s a nice feeling.
I write only about my experience, and this is not meant to discourage or encourage any future TAPIFer. There are tons of other TAPIFers who are having a much better time of it, and some who hate every second. It depends on which students you have, which schools you work at, which teachers you get, and how you handle it all! I’m striving for improvement.