All posts tagged: assistante de langue

Blog Update: TAPIF Timeline!

So, here’s the truth: that tangled web of French bureaucracy people go on about…didn’t seem to ensnare me very effectively, In fact, I had a fairly tame run-in with the infamous institution: my CAF subsidy came on time, I even got my carte vitale right after Christmas! So, even though I’m sure it was just beginner’s luck and nothing at all having to do with skill, I wanted to share my TAPIF timeline: when I booked my tickets, when I found an apartment, when I submitted important documents and how long the various processes all took. If you have more specific questions about anything, ASK in the comments and I will do my best to respond!!! And remember, my experiences won’t mirror yours: my experiences didn’t mirror the other assistants in my town, even when we went together to submit the exact same documents to the same people at the same time! I’m definitely not an expert, but I figure at the very least maybe this will put your mind at ease by giving you a modicum of an …

Today, I was 9 minutes late to class

The #4 bus has somewhat of an unpredictable schedule. Sometimes it leaves early, leaving me stranded on the sidewalk. Sometimes it arrives late, leaving me staring at my watch, foot tapping in anxiety. This morning it was the latter. When your commute is as tightly timed as mine, every second counts. Right off the bat, this put me 4 minutes behind schedule. I arrived at school to find the front gate locked. This wasn’t a surprise, as it’s been locked every day since the January attacks, the only immediately visible way the tragic events have impacted my daily life. It does add a solid 45 seconds to my routine though, as I don’t have a key and must rush around to the preschool to be let in. By then, I was 5 minutes behind schedule.

All of the Lights: Christmas in “secular” France

The Christmas season arrived swiftly in France. Although the French are as unaware about Thanksgiving as the rest of the world, they – just like any self-respecting American should – waited until all the parades and football games were over before blasting carols and decorating trees. The Friday night after T-day saw the illumination of hundreds of lights strung through the streets of Chambéry and that weekend the Christmas market opened! From what I can tell, there is a Christmas market in virtually every single French town of a certain size (I’ve seen them in Chambéry, Lyon, Grenoble and Montpellier), and there are certain elements that make every Christmas market: Dozens of tiny wooden cabins, called chalets, which serve as the individual stands of each vendor At least one chalet, but usually more, serving vin chaud (hot mulled wine – delicious!) and churros and marrons chauds (roasted chestnuts – also delicious!). A chapellerie, or a hat vendor. I don’t know why, but every Christmas market I’ve seen has at least one. Vendors of regional products: sausages, …

Well, this is nuts.

As of today, I have been in Chambéry for two months. This fact is especially remarkable because the last time I was in France, it was for exactly this amount of time. And yet, this has felt like a drop in the bucket compared to that summer. You know what they say….Time flies when you have no idea what you are doing. Here’s a statistical breakdown of my first two months: Museums visited: 4 Mountains hiked: 2 Movies watched: 6 Plays attended: 1 Crêpes eaten: 9 Dinners hosted: 4 Cities visited: 3 Students taught: 195 Pen Pal letters sent: 19 Postcards sent: 12 Official forms and dossiers submitted: 3 Countries my friends are from: 8 Languages spoken in any given outing: 4 Cows seen: impossible to count Times I’ve been baffled by the Celsius scale: every single time Times I’ve understood the metric system: none Times per week I get coffee (or tea) with friends in the same café: 5, at minimum Times per week we go for beer instead: depends on the week….. I could …

Observations, Thoughts & Impressions

I have now spent about 3 weeks at Ecole Concorde, observing, assisting, teaching, etc. Here are a few of my initial reactions to French schools (or at least my somewhat unique elementary school). The kids learn cursive right off the bat — even at the stage they specifically pointed out, “Yes, in France we use connected handwriting” as in, the entire country. This was actually something I noticed before, that the French collectively have a very particular way of writing that struck me as being “different.” Now, I have observed the naissance of this phenomenon!! The CP students (first grade equivalent) have handwriting lessons, and already have begun writing in cursive. Incredible. In the US, I never experienced an emphasis on handwriting, and certainly not cursive. I was required to write in cursive I think in the 2nd or 3rd grade, but that was more or less the extent — and mind you that was some 13 years ago as well! The kids seem to be very well-behaved overall, but the teachers take absolutely NO …

Je vous présente…

Let me introduce you to my school!! Name: Groupe Scolaire Concorde (The school is actually made up of two schools: the maternelle (preschool) and elementaire) Location: Barberaz, France. A 10 minute bus ride or a 30 minute walk from my apartment. Size: There is one class of 17-25ish students of every grade. I believe this is on the small side, though more or less average for the size of the town… Special Skills: The school is one of only 3 in the region (and possibly in all of France) to operate with a content-language learning immersion program. As I’ve mentioned a few times previously, this means that all elementary students have about half of their curriculum taught in English and half in French. The maternelle also has several hours of English classes each week. Schedule: I work for at least 30 minutes a week with each class. I assist in math, geography, art and earth science classes. In the maternelle classes, I have a little bit more independence in presenting cultural activities. This week I’m …

Almost Useful

**I am slowly but surely posting my way through the past few weeks…hopefully I will catch up this week and then I can start posting in the present tense! October 1st was the first day of our contracts as assistants. The académie de Grenoble required all 260-some assistants to come to the city of Grenoble for a two day stage, or orientation. The Chambéry assistants all met at the train station early in the morning for the approximately 45 minute train journey, which was exciting because it was the first time all the Chambéry assistants were all together….at least most of us… The day I arrived in Chambéry, I met up with a fellow American named Kevin. In the nearly two weeks after that fateful meeting, I remained the ONLY person to have met Kevin in person. When I would meet up with other assistants, they would ask after him since they recognized his name from the Facebook group, but no one else had EVER seen him. Obviously, this led to a lot of jokes about how …