Grignan, France (in Provence) on a tour around the tiny villages
How did TESL@TFLI prepare you for teaching in France?
I entered the TESL course at TFLI with no teaching experience, but I knew I wanted to teach abroad (in France specifically). I couldn’t have asked for better preparation in both teaching techniques as well as classroom management. The emphasis at TFLI is in creating a total immersion environment where the students are pushed to listen carefully and use what they hear in the target language. This break from the more traditional grammar-focused method was refreshing and worked especially well with children (whom I would be teaching in France). The practicum at the end of the TESL course was vital in taking what I learned in the classroom and putting it into action. Having that in-classroom experience made my entry into the French primary school classrooms much easier and boosted my overall confidence in front of a classroom.
What advice do you have for those who want to teach abroad?
First and foremost, approach an adventure abroad with an open mind. Beginning your journey like this frees you up to learn new things in all realms of life (not just teaching). You will be met with challenges throughout your time abroad as well. These challenges are usually great life-lessons in disguise, so take them in stride and know you are not alone. As far as logistics, make sure you research the program of your choice thoroughly (especially in regards to Visa requirements and what your worker status is in your chosen country). Ask as many questions as you can and be prepared for the adventure of a lifetime!
Tell us an interesting classroom story.
In France, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are an oddity. While you can find peanut butter in specialty stores, the combination of the two on bread is unheard of, and most French people have never even tasted peanut butter. Perfect teaching opportunity! I taught the peanut butter and jelly song to well over three hundred students and they adored it. Complete with choreography for smashing the grapes, crunching the peanuts, and spreading both of them, the children always cheered in excitement when it was time to sing. It still makes me grin from ear to ear when I remember walking through the hallways during their recess and hearing them sing the song as I passed by.
Do you have a favorite teaching experience?
The eight months I spent in Romans-sur-Isere, France, teaching in six primary schools through TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) has been, by far, the greatest experience of my life. With a TESL certificate from TFLI under my belt, I touched hundreds of children’s lives with the gift of language. Their excitement and enthusiasm from the moment I stepped foot in the classroom was rewarding beyond measure. Interacting with the French teachers and administration enriched the experience and allowed me to learn additional teaching techniques. Outside of teaching, I was able to travel all around France and Europe seeing magnificent sites and making life-long friends.