Expat life, United Kingdom

My professional life in my adoptive country :

My classroom at the end of the year


Today, I am coming back with another article, an idea from Hélène of A french in Mexico, which coincides with a category I wanted to add on the blog : #theteacherdiaries. So I could talk about my hard and good times, and disucss about the job of a teacher (or an assistant) and reflect on what this year brought me at the end of my contract.

As you may have guessed, today we will talk about my professional life in my adoptive country and assistantship. I will try not to go too deep on this subject so I can explore it later with more details for the new category. You have to understand I am also a baby expat; I only have been living in UK since September,  so I am really far from other bloggers of the Histoires Expatriées rendez-vous who have been living in their country for such a long time sometimes. Moreover, this job was actually my very first real professional experience so I didn’t take a step back yet on my professional experiences to speak about it fully.

As my many participants, I am a teacher. Well, a language assistant. What is the difference? To be a teacher you need an adequate diploma. I guess a foreign diploma could work if you aim for a public school, but a PCGE is prefered for both public and state schools. (an equivalent to our French CAPES/ Master MEEF). And I haven’t any of these. Generally, an assistant have an undergraduate degree (which I do) or a postgraduate and decide to teach in another country that hi/hers in secondary school. (for college it is a different scheme and I am not concerned yet.)

A nice french club, isn’t it?

As far as I know, in France, there is two ways to become an assistant, and it should be the same for you if you want to apply to teach in France. Most people do it via the CIEP (International Centre of Education studies) but you may also do it on your own. If you apply via the CIEP, it is with a partnership with your university. I may do a full article on the process one day if you want me to.  Personally, I chose the second option, applying to schools via LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster or their own websites. Only one replied to me, and it was the one.

For obvious reasons, I can’t tell you the name of the school I worked in, but if you know Canterbury a bit, it is really not hard to guess, as we are pretty much everywhere.  I do think there is as much assistantships experiences as schools taking assistants, testimonies of language assistant being so different from one to another. Back in last june, I was offered a one-year contract in Canterbury, as one of the two French assistants of the school, a fix classroom and a part-time schedule (which is not really part-time) and also an apartment next to the school. Meanwhile, CIEP offered a job in Northen Ireland which I would have loved, but in three different cities near Belfast and four different schools. Adding a three hundred pounds gap between the two offers and a furnished flat, it was really easy for me to choose one over the other.

the nice city I live in.

What was my role in the middle of all of that ? I took care of middle and secondary scholars, with five different school programs. Most of the time, I had class with Year 11 (Seconde, in French) taking their (I)GCSE at the end of the year (our French Brevet, taken in year 10 in France, but less hardcore than the British one.) I also coached bilingual and non bilingual Year 12 students (Première in French) for the first part of their A levels (Baccalaureate in French). Finally, Year 13 students for their exams at the end of the year. With those groups, we worked mostly oral exams, and when I could, I also helped them for orthography, syntax, verbs endings… when I knew the answer.

This was the difficulty. I found amazing to have native assistant for the conversations (Conversation are oral tutoring sessions with two or three students tops.) Being French, it was sometimes hard to explain to non bilingual students something that seemed simple and logical for me. For instance subjunctive, that is so abstract in English language.

I will not explain too much so I can write a full article on the subject later on.

Other classes were for bilingual Year 12, taking the B2 as well as their GCSE. B2 is a proof of a certain level – Intermediate –, a kind of Cambridge test or also Big Challenge (a very French/not so English test where you could win dictionaries. How exciting?) Finally, my favourite: translation classes (French-to-English/ English-to-French) for the oldest students.

This job was a wonderful opportunity that I will never regret and that already opens me new window. I couldn’t dream for a better firs job experience. I am already starting a new chapter, as I decided not to renew my contract even if I could. Stay tuned, I will soon announce some crazy new adventures abroad…

Did you like this year theme ? What about your professional life in your adoptive country? If you liked this rendez-vous, I would be more than happy to launch The Teacher Diaries category with reflections on GCSE, A levels, my relationships with students, the schools, exam, personal life…

This rendez-vous is Lucie’s idea, come and play with us every month!





1 Comment

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