Martin was a Language Assistant and intern in Paris and is now a lecteur and freelance journalist
My time as a language assistant was not particularly easy (we had a number of incidences of violence among the students, and several police interventions during the year), but was always interesting and often incredibly rewarding. I learned how to animate students who might not necessarily want to learn English and how to deal with difficulties in everyday teaching. Being faced with a class of disinterested teenagers can be galling, but it does wonders for your confidence! I developed a rapport with many of my students and some of us have remained friends. Working with French people obviously helped with my oral fluency too – staff room gossip might start as an unintelligible chatter, but after a few weeks I was launching in with my own opinions.
At Allociné I often worked in English, but was given good opportunities to practice translation from French as well. I also had the chance to conduct interviews with famous people, which gave me a great start for the career in film journalism which I am currently trying to pursue. Again I was working with a staff composed mostly of French people which helped my oral fluency.
I loved every moment of my year abroad, so much so that after my graduation I returned to Ile-de-France to do a second assistantship, which was equally fun and interesting (though once again not the easiest of jobs).
I am currently working as a lecteur at the Université de Paris (Paris 7 – Diderot), while studying for an MA by Research in French from the University of Nottingham at the same time. I am also working freelance as a film journalist, using both the skills and contacts I gained at Allociné.
This summer I worked at a summer school for French students in England, a job which I gained through my experience as a language assistant. My experiences on the year abroad have opened up new worlds of possibility in my life which I will forever be grateful for. We language students often describe the year abroad as the greatest year of our lives, and this is true in so many ways."
In partnership with the British Academy and University Council of Modern Languages (UCML) we gathered short reports from graduates on the importance that the year abroad has had for them, in terms of their skill set, their careers and their lives. These reports formed the basis of the Position Statement: Valuing the Year Abroad. Browse the reports below for inspiration, and select a tag within a report to read more on that theme.