Being an English Language Assistant
A POPULAR route into France, especially for those who have recently graduated from college or university, is as an English Language Assistant.
The role involves supporting the English teacher, sometimes in an individual school other times in a number of schools, but it provides an opportunity to get a real insight into French schooling.
Often there is the chance to be involved in projects and to take small classes, providing a real hands-on approach to teaching English in France.
In the UK the British Council handles the application procedure and on its website there is a wide range of information available, including first hand accounts from former assistants.
But by far one of the most informative articles on the internet about teaching English in France is written by one-time US assistant Jennifer Wagner.
Her guide for English Language Assistants in France provides advice on the US application system, but also tips on what to pack, surviving the first few days and information on the work involved in the schools.
The first few days at your school, you will mostly be doing paperwork and taking care of administrative things. You should have a week or two of observation before you actually begin teaching. But I have heard some schools make you start teaching right away, especially at the primary level, so you always need to be prepared. During my first two weeks, I barely worked at all.
Jennifer's article also features some of the lesson ideas and online resources she used whilst working in three different schools near Annecy, and her piece neatly rounds off with the paperwork involved once your time in France is over.
Also whilst I am writing about education I thought I would highlight a piece written on the Berry Deep France website that covers the creation of the French education system, but also how it functions today (just scroll past the large graphic to read the piece).