Presentation on theme: "DEGREE: Psychology with French Language at the University of Glasgow"— Presentation transcript:
1DEGREE: Psychology with French Language at the University of Glasgow Isobel Phillips talks about her experiences as a language assistant in Nîmes.Why did you choose to be a Language Assistant with the British Council?I was given the opportunity either to study as an ERASMUS student in a French university or to apply to be a language assistant. The language assistantship appealed to me much more as I knew that I would immediately be required to speak French and would be able to learn much more about French culture through this experience. I had heard that quite often when studying abroad it is hard to meet groups of local people and fit into the local environment. I wanted to make the most of my experience and the opportunity I had whilst abroad and the British Council programme provided me with that. It also was the perfect chance to get some useful work experience for when I finish university as well as providing an insight into teaching as a career.What type of school or institution are you teaching at?I worked in two primary schools, in Nîmes. Whilst they were both in the same town the pupils came from very different backgrounds so the teaching experience was varied between the two.Who did you teach? (e.g. 5-7 yr olds, yr olds, mature students)I taught students in Cycle 3: (aged 7-12 years). Altogether I had 10 different classes across the two schools, which I saw either once or twice a week.What does your teaching involve on a day-to-day basis?As I was working in primary schools I was primarily the English teacher, not so much an assistant. So, I would plan the lessons in advance at the start of the week so that I could be flexible if I needed to and wouldn’t run out of material. I had a set of routines that I did with each class and a range of activities to keep them speaking English as much as possible. In each school I had 5 classes so I would spend 45 minutes with each. With primary students, the bases need to be covered and encouragement to speak is vital so a lot of singing, games and partner/group activities were good. Not much writing was advised, particularly with the younger children – so we just played more games!What is/has been the most enjoyable teaching experience?I think during my stay the most enjoyable teaching experience I had was accompanying the children on “classe transplantée” (school camp) for a week. Whilst I wasn’t really teaching English to them at the time it was a great chance to spend time with the children and the teachers outside of the school setting. Also it was encouraging for me to see that they were still curious about English in a different place, asking words or phrases, or telling me English sentences they knew that applied to the present situation.NAME: Isobel PhillipsDEGREE: Psychology with French Language at the University of GlasgowTEACHING LOCATION: Nîmes, Montpellier, France
2“DO IT! I would, in an instant.” How have you integrated with the local community and experienced the culture?During my time in France I stayed with other Assistants on the scheme, so we all made a conscious effort to integrate into the local community. One of my flatmates and I took up salsa dancing, which then led to a great group of friends similar age to us who we spent most of the time with for the rest of our stay. I also played tennis with one of the teachers at school at her local club, and gave English lessons at the local “English” pub. These activities enabled me to see how the French live and really helped me to fit into the local community. When my contract at school finished I got a job in a restaurant, leading onto several private tutoring opportunities.Do you feel that your language skills have improved? If yes, why and what ways would you recommend to others?My language proficiency has improved enormously. I would recommend to anyone else who is going out to spend an extended period of time in another country not to be shy. Have the courage to talk even if what you say is wrong, you won’t be judged – people will be impressed that you tried and will offer you more support. When I arrived I took French for Foreign Speakers classes for the first couple of months. It was just an oral class with people of advanced language skills already but there were other groups of other standards and it provided the opportunity to understand some of the grammatical structures that don’t appear obvious at first. I would also suggest doing all the small and perhaps obvious things such as reading magazines or listening to the radio in the foreign language, it’s amazing how much you pick up without realising.Have you taken part in activities which you wouldn’t normally have done?I was lucky enough to have discovered a lot of activities and taken part in many things I may not have otherwise had the chance to do. For example, salsa dancing wasn’t anything I had considered doing but it was an easy way to meet people and have fun and I have continued doing it since. Also, where I was staying was largely influenced by Spanish culture and bullfights are traditional in the town. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to see something like that, and although it is a controversial topic, I was able to see a spectacle before forming my own opinion.If you were to recommend the British Council Language Assistants Programme to someone else what would you say?I would definitely recommend the scheme to anyone. It is the perfect opportunity to better your language skills whilst acquiring brilliant work experience and having one of the best years of your life. The advantage of“DO IT! I would, in an instant.”“The whole experience was incredibly enriching, both in terms of language but also in terms of my own confidence”
3the British Council Programme is that, as you are teaching, you have a lot of support if you should need it – which is comforting at the beginning when you are finding your feet. Also, the opportunity to meet new people and experience a new culture is incredible.What advice would you give future assistants?Definitely get in touch with former assistants that had worked in the area you will be working, they have invaluable knowledge: from where to stay to where to eat to phone contracts etc. Other assistants that are working with you are good to contact as well as together you can support each other when you arrive and it is always nice to have someone you know living a similar experience to yourself. I would also advise ensuring that you have paperwork, such as your birth certificate properly translated, and money issues sorted before you go.What is the most important or most valuable result the experience has given you so far?The whole experience was incredibly enriching, both in terms of language but also in terms of my own confidence. I have no hesitation in returning to France for a long period of time and I have made friends there that I am sure I will have for many years to come. As well as this, the thought that I have potentially inspired young French pupils to continue studying English and helped them see that English doesn’t have to be boring is a lovely thought.Any other comments/experiences you want to share?DO IT! I would, in an instant.