I’m Basically An American Now (A Sappy Thanksgiving Post)

Today is Thanksgiving … well, sort of. Canadian Thanksgiving came and went weeks ago, but this was the first year that I didn’t celebrate at all. On October 12, I had just recently arrived in France and was thousands of kilometres away from my family; more importantly, since I didn’t have a single friend in France yet, I had nobody to celebrate with. In the end, Canadian Thanksgiving went almost unacknowledged here in Domfront (except for my attempt at making an apple crisp without brown sugar. Trust me, it’s better with brown sugar).  Continue reading

19 Things I’ve Learned as a Teaching Assistant in France (Part 3)

15. You will be a sort of local celebrity, especially if you’ve been placed in a small town.

In a town of only 3770, people generally know who I am right away. This can be a good thing – some people around town, such as the librarian, are chatty and always ask me how it’s going at work – but it can also be a bit weird. My students, especially the younger ones, are always eager to report a “Julia sighting” when they see me in class … “Madame, I saw you yesterday in front of the school/at the library/at the grocery store/at the cinema!” It’s especially awkward when I realize that I saw the student in question there too, but didn’t recognize them from class and didn’t say hi!  Continue reading

19 Things I’ve Learned as a Teaching Assistant in France (Part 2)

[Here is Part 2! I’m taking advantage of my temporary wifi connection …]

8. You will need to use your French at work …

You only need intermediate French to become a teaching assistant in France, but I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for me if my French hadn’t already been very good when I got here. Yes, I speak English when I am teaching, but to speak to school administrators, teachers who don’t teach English, and anyone outside of the school, it really helps to have a good grasp of French. Even though I make an effort to stick to English in front of the students, sometimes when you’ve explained an activity five times and the students still don’t get it, it’s better just to explain it in French to avoid utter chaos. Even the English teachers for whom English is their second language prefer to speak to me in French outside of class, which kind of surprised me!  Continue reading

19 Things I’ve Learned So Far as a Teaching Assistant in France (Part 1)

[Note: I haven’t been able to update the blog in a while (still no wifi connection in my apartment, and limited high-speed data on my phone), so not only is this post long-awaited, but it’s also very loooooong. As such, I’ve decided to start with just the first part today … which is still really long. Enjoy my ramblings, anyway!]

I’ve been working as a teaching assistant for about two months now, and let me tell you what a journey it has been! Before arriving in Domfront at the end of September, I had zero teaching experience, no knowledge of how to manage a classroom whatsoever. Many, if not most, of the English teaching assistants in France are in the same boat as me; a teaching degree is not one of the prerequisites of the TAPIF program. Still, the thought of standing up in front of a classroom full of kids and conveying the assurance of a qualified teacher was more than a little nerve-wracking, even though I was looking forward to trying my hand at it.

Now, near the end of November, I’m still finding my footing in terms of the whole teaching thing. I’m settling into both of my schools, getting to know the students and staff better, and gaining confidence as a teacher, and yet each day presents new challenges. At the same time, teaching is perhaps one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever done, and I never finish a day of teaching without at least one funny story to tell. My experience so far has been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, and it will be interesting to see where it takes me over the next five months!

For now, here are a few of the many things I have learned as a teaching assistant in France … Continue reading