All posts tagged: assistante d’anglais

Starting a Pen Pal Exchange

In my two years of language assistant-ing one of my favorite activities has been establishing pen pal correspondences between my classes and American students. Having worked for a year in an American elementary school, I had pretty easy access to teachers interested in participating, and this past year, I managed to hook up no less than six of my classes up with a U.S. counterpart! In primary schools, the concern is often that the students don’t know enough English to truly exchange with a native speaker, but I want to assure you against this idea completely! It’s not always simple, but my students have managed to communicate a lot to their pen pals, and I have never seen them SO excited to read new English words as when they received letters back. That being said, you do have to be strategic about the kinds of correspondence you propose in order to maximize success for all of your students! Luckily, basic things like telling your name and age and describing your family and physical appearance are …

Thanks / No Thanks

Well, all of a sudden I’ve been in France for a full month! Boy has it flown by or what?! Little by little I’ve been settling into Marseille, into my new job, into different expectations and realities, with help from so many people (and in despite of some others…) Thanks to my mom who dropped me off at the airport. No thanks to my 25kg suitcase (plus 2 other bags). Thanks to the AirFrance employee who let the extra 2 kilos slide with no fee. No thanks to the diva in front of me in the ridiculously congested customs line at Charles de Gaulle airport who yelled at me for apparently cutting her in line when I was merely trying to take the outside lane on a turn, rather than bottleneck all 3048302 of us through the inside curve. Thanks to whatever caused a ten minute delay of my TGV that allowed me to make it on with a few minutes to spare! No thanks to metros without escalators, train platforms with large gaps, cobblestones and sidewalks full of dog …

the vicious TAPIF cycle

Recently I found a notebook that I bought in Chambéry and used throughout my year as an assistant. Tucked among the pages, I found a cootie catcher/fortune teller, made in Turin and filled with ridiculous jokes and general absurdity. It contained fortunes such as: One of the richest men in Christendom will take a shine to you and marry you. You will return to Chambery and NEVER LEAVE. You will become the conductor of the little train. Like Hannah, you will be trapped in the vicious TAPIF cycle and shall be an assistant for the rest of your days. Turns out, those things are powerful. 22 months later, and I’ve just received a second French long-stay visa in the mail. Yes, just like Hannah, I found myself drawn back into the TAPIF cycle and am doomed to return to France again! Here’s what I know so far: I’ll be teaching in three (3) primary schools in the 9th and 10th arrondissements of Marseille. None of these three schools have ever had an English assistant before, nor …

Backwards and Forwards

So, I got some cool news today: After being placed on the TAPIF waitlist (as all returning assistants are) I’ve finally been accepted to teach at the primary level in the Académie d’Aix-Marseille! When I reapplied to TAPIF, I decided that I would only go back if it was for a good reason. Yes, it’s fantastic to be young and un-attached and travel and do whatever, which would be reason enough for some…but I’m getting to the point where I’m tired of living temporarily, figuring things out one year at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret a single thing about doing TAPIF the first time, and I wouldn’t change that year for anything. But coming back afterwards, I felt like I had taken a gap year from life and found myself pretty much back at square one in terms of being a poor, unemployed recent college grad, while many of my friends had a full year of ‘adulthood’ under their belts. I want to live in France again. I miss the language, …

Art Lessons to do with your Primary Students

One of my regular duties as an English teaching assistant was teaching weekly arts plastiques lessons for CP and CE1 (1st and 2nd grade). Their teacher occasionally came up with ideas, but she wasn’t very crafty (her words), so most weeks she left it up to me. Going off of various topics they were working on in other subjects, I came up with a number of fun crafts that we used to decorate the classroom, the hallways, and a few that they got to take home as well :). I also have a small amount of art activities I did in my preschool classes, which they loved! It took me a while to figure out how to do these kinds of lessons well, but I’m so glad I persevered, because doing a craft is so much more rewarding than just reciting vocabulary. It was sometimes tough, because the school (and I don’t think mine is an outlier in this) did not have the type of resources I am used to in American school art classes. I tried to use the available …

Quick Lesson Ideas for Primary Assistants: Flashcard games!

Here we go, current/future assistants, just in time for the start of your contracts. My favorite, easy lessons, with little-to-no prep involved!! Plus, see here for my favorite art activities! Flashcard games GALORE!!!!! Flashcards and other visuals are so important to teaching new vocabuluary. Your colleagues may have flashcards you can use, especially for basic things like the weather, days of the week, or emotions, etc. But if they don’t, you should ABSOLUTELY create some. Simple clip art or hand drawn faces/sunshines/rain clouds/animals are all you need. There are tons of games you can play with vocab flashcards….here are a few of my favorites: Show me – Very simple premise: ask a student to show you one of the vocab words. They come to the board and point to it. Or, you can pass out the cards and call out a word and the person with the corresponding card must hold it up. This can be fun with colors if everyone has scraps of colored paper and must hold up the color you call out. What is …

To TAPIF or not to TAPIF, that is the Question

Since returning home, I’ve felt more and more like I’ve been living a double life. In my first weeks back home, I was so surprised by the number of times I described myself as having “just graduated” which I suspect is because taking a year to teach English is France feels so unconnected to the rest of my experience learning and creating and teaching theatre, to the point where I feel like it didn’t even happen. I am striving now to find avenues to connect my professional and personal life to my experience in France, so I can feel like it was worth it, like it meant something in the greater scope of my life, but it’s not easy.