All posts tagged: English Assistant

What to Expect as a Primary English Assistant : 8 Questions and Answers

After my first TAPIF placement in Chambéry, I noticed that much of the TAPIF blogging community focuses on assistants in secondary schools. This is completely normal, as there are far more people placed at the secondary level! There are many commonalities between the expectations and experiences of primary and secondary assistants; there are also many specifics that are quite different. So, I wanted to create a resource specifically for primary teaching assistants, since teaching in elementary schools comes with its own challenges and circumstances that aren’t talked about as often. I’m about to start my third year teaching primary level English, and in that time I’ve experienced many different types of classrooms, colleagues, and schools. I thought now would be a great time to update my initial Primary Assistant FAQ post to include some of the new insights and tips I’ve gained in my two years as a teaching assistant in the académies of Grenoble (Chambéry) and Aix-Marseille (Marseille), as well as anecdotes from the many primary assistants I know and have worked with. This …

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 …

Is TAPIF a “real job” ?

For the past few years, April has been a grab bag of various bittersweet emotions… In 2014, I was about a month away from graduation, in the midst of several intense theatre projects, and then was accepted to my first year of teaching English in France! Bitter: leaving school, my friends, my family, my country. Sweet: Uhhh…France?! In 2015, I was on the last legs of that first contract, pretty sure I wanted to stay in France, but desperately waiting for news of a contract renewal. Bitter: saying goodbye to Chambéry, unsure about returning. Sweet: staying hopeful… In 2016, after a year of hustling 3 part-time jobs at home, April saw yet another acceptance to TAPIF!! Bitter: again leaving behind friends, and a taste of the “real world” Sweet: do I really need to say it? Which brings us to 2017. After 7 amazing months working in three schools with great, supportive colleagues and funny, sweet students, I am once again preparing to say goodbye. But this time, only for a few months. Against all …

22 mars – crash course

They say that the best way to learn something is to teach it, and I have really come to know the true meaning of this expression in the past few months. Though I am an English as a Foreign Language teacher, I am not necessarily an expert on all things English grammar. I am a native speaker, so beyond comma and semicolon usage, I was never explicitly taught many of the rules. In my primary job as an English interventionist in several elementary schools, we don’t spend much time on grammar. The students learn how to use vocabulary in context (I am 10. I have two sisters. Can you swim?) but that’s about as complex as it gets. Recently, however, I’ve begun privately tutoring two new students- an 8th grader and a senior in high school. At first, tutoring really intimidated me. One-on-one lessons are a completely different beast from lessons with a class of 30 second graders who take 10 minutes just to write their name on a paper. Some days the hour ticks by …

7 mars – English is hard

English is hard. Well, sometimes it’s easy: no crazy verb conjugations, no gendered nouns to memorize and accord with adjectives, no difference between formal or informal “you”. But then it gets complicated: pronunciation that has absolutely nothing to do with a word’s spelling, exceptions on exceptions on exceptions, not to mention all of the variations of English spoken around the world. This last one is what trips me up most often in my job. Overwhelmingly, British English is preferred over American English by my colleagues and those of my friends. Students are exposed to both, but by and large, BE is the rule. Things I’m asked to teach that aren’t natural to me, an AE speaker, include: Have you got brothers and sisters? I’m wearing trousers and a jumper. It’s 23 past 4. Today is Tuesday, the 7th of March Take out your copybook and rubber. François is a CM2 (5th grade) teacher who loves to teach English. In his class, I co-teach with him, rather than intervene on my own. He is teaching his …

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 Next Adventure!

Hello World! Guess who’s back?! That’s right, I’m resurrecting this blog for my next exciting chapter! Beginning in October, I will be acting as an “assistante d’anglais” or an English teaching assistant in France! I got the position through an exchange program run by the French Embassy and French Government, the very creatively named Teaching Assistant Program in France, popularly known as TAPIF. To chronicle this exiting new adventure, I’ve made some major updates to the blog, including a name change! But, Anne, you cry, Why oh why did you choose “Present Perfect” as the new name for your blog? Well, I answer, I honestly am so terrible at naming things and all the obvious things about Americans Abroad seemed taken. So, I used the name of a beloved English verb tense, which also seemed to appropriately idealise how I feel about returning to France: At Present, Perfect!! (Ironically, the French have no Present Perfect tense…….eh, details) So, where will I be this time? While I would love to be back in Paris (and you better …