The truth about being a language assistant in a lycée in France
Charlotte is studying French at Royal Holloway and is spending her year abroad as a British Council Language Assistant in Paris, France. Here she discusses the reality of being a language assistant in a lycée in France...
You will work more than 12 hours a week.
The contract that you sign says that you will work 12 hours a week but that doesn't take into account planning lessons, travelling time as well as packing up time as some students are pretty slow to pack up and may want to see you after class e.g. if you have taken their mobile phone away from them during class ;)
2. It's going to be hard.
For some reason whenever I went to a British Council lecture about the whole Language Assistant programme, the previous assistants had always said 'you have a great time teaching students and getting along with the other teachers'. However, the reality of being a language assistant is quite different. You may get along with students but there will be some who really don't want to learn English and may disrupt your classes. You've just got to keep going and hope things will get better but do be prepared for discipline issues regardless of their age. Also, the teachers are not necessarily friendly with you but you have to remember that you are probably teaching people that are about the same age as you and they see you like a student so aren't always so interested to get to know you. Language barriers make things worse. BUT this all depends on your school as a friend of mine got a welcoming party so it's all down to luck.
3. Be prepared for disorganisation.
# France is known for its administration problems and since I've been living here I can confirm that this image about the administration in France is indeed correct. You will be asked to sign many forms so be prepared! Also, along with this red tape there is a lot of disorganisation such as lesson changes and cancellations at the last minute. You just have to take things in their stride and not be too serious about things.
Despite this, please keep in mind that there are also good things such as allowing you to find out if teaching is a possible career for you and allowing you to discover a country easily due to the short working hours.
4. It's still really fun.
I can say that I am honestly really enjoying my time as an assistant but I wish I had known these things before I had started.