Is it worth working extra hours on top of the Language Assistant programme?
Charlotte Aitken is studying French at Royal Holloway and is spending her year abroad as a British Council Language Assistant in a Parisian high-school. She decided to supplement her income from this job by finding two other jobs: English tutoring and assisting teachers in a primary school to teach English. Charlotte says, "I work an average of 35 hours a week including my Language Assistant job and here I will weigh up the pros and cons of working extra hours on your year abroad."
5 reasons you should work extra hours
1. Extra money
This is probably the main reason that I started working extra. Even though the language assistantship is very well paid for only 12 hours a week, Paris is a very expensive city so honestly every little helps. The extra money will definitely help you live comfortably during your year abroad. English tutoring rates vary but you can make about €20 an hour if not more.
2. Makes you practice your language
Your amount of practice of the foreign language you study will depend on where you are being a language assistant. For example, I teach at a high school and I am told not to speak a word of French to my students. Obviously over time I have had to speak in French in order to communicate as some of the student’s level of English is terrible, but on the whole I don't. Speaking to teachers doesn't usually last long as they don't see any point in getting to know assistants who will leave in a few months. However, if you do private tutoring for example you are more likely to speak French to organise lessons or talk to students whose level of English isn't that good.
3. Extra experience
If you want to go into teaching then tutoring is really good for you as you will get more experience by having more practical teaching time and also it may enable you to teach a different age group compared to the one you currently teach. Also, if you do another kind of job it may point you into the direction of the career you want or at least give you skills to help you further your career.
4. Ensures you get out
My worst fear when arriving in Paris was not having anything to do as I didn't have any friends before coming. Extra work may ensure that you have something and will let you explore Paris by making you travel to places you may never have been. For example, I had clients near the Eiffel tower, which was perfect for me as I could go and admire the Eiffel tower on a weekly basis.
5. Makes you feel a sense of pride
Getting a job isn’t easy but if you manage to get a job in a foreign country then you will feel great as you will be able to support yourself with the money that you make. It’s a great feeling to be able to support yourself financially.
5 reasons you shouldn’t work extra hours
1. Makes you tired
It's very easy to accept working extra hours because you are motivated for the money or the experience but make sure you don't work too much as you risk making yourself too tired and ensure you have free time to enjoy yourself as after all it is your year abroad.
2. Sometimes not very profitable
Although, working extra jobs will give you that extra cash, it’s not always worth it. What I mean by that is that some jobs do not pay well enough. In particular avoid babysitting jobs that want native English speakers as they are unlikely to pay well. Also check the location of the potential work place as you may end up travelling two hours there and back for only one hour of work paid.
3. You may not make the most out of your year abroad
Make sure to not over work. After all you only get to experience it once so ensure to not force yourself to work if you don’t need to financially and make sure you allow yourself to settle in before working.
4. Extra stress
Moving abroad is a pretty stressful experience; it is not necessarily healthy to give yourself extra pressure from a job. Ensure that you are comfortable with your current schedule before accepting extra work.
5. You still have your dissertation/year abroad project to write!
For those doing their year abroad as part of their language degrees, you will probably have some kind of report to write up in the target language you are being immersed in. If you work too much you may not be able to complete this as quickly as you would have wanted to and will maybe end up working on it during your summer break. And seriously, who wants to write a very long essay during the holidays?
Overall, make sure you get a good work-life balance so that you can make the most out of your year abroad.