A Week in the Life: A Language Assistant in Paris

A Week in the Life: A Language Assistant in Paris

This article was written by Charlotte Aitken, published on 26th October 2015 and has been read 3859 times.

Charlotte is studying French at Royal Holloway and is spending her year abroad as a British Council Language Assistant in Paris, France. Here is a week in her life!

I arrive at my school at 09h20 to meet with my supervisor teacher and my boss to discuss my time table as I start teaching today but I still have no clue where and when I am meant to be teaching. After half an hour of discussing, I find out that I start at 11h30 in Room 310 where there is nothing but a chalk board so thankfully I have brought my tablet so that I can show my students my PowerPoint presentation that I have prepared.

My first class consists of 5 students, which could be considered a nightmare. I think to myself ‘What if I don’t have enough material for one hour?’ but it turns out that the group of 5 students are a bunch of chatty girls who are real foodies. In fact, they’re so into their food that they invite me for out for lunch. I feel a bit weird about this proposal as after all they are my students but they are also about my age (17-19). I tell them that I have plans to eat with the teachers but we can do it after the holidays.

I then head to the teacher’s room/staff room to meet up with my English teachers to have lunch with them. We go to a Vietnamese shop to buy some yummy sandwiches. After having my lunch with the teachers I go home as I have a two hour break before my next lesson. My next two lessons are rather strange as my expectation that having a bigger class is better is soon shattered. The first group of 10 students aren’t really motivated to learn English and I nearly run out of activities to do with them, whereas the next group of 10 students are much more chatty, which makes me feel more relaxed. At 17hr30 my first day of official teaching is over wahoo!

A slightly early start to the day for me as my first class takes place at 10hr30. I begin with a very timid class, which make some concerned as whether my day will be bad if I cannot motivate students. However, I soon meet chattier classes :) I realise that the ambiance within a class can change my mood significantly. For lunch I then head to the Vietnamese shop again where I try the pork sandwich. My next classes begin again straight after lunch and I don’t finish until 17h40 (Oh what a luxury it is to finish school at 15h15 in the UK).

When my day is finished I head straight home to have dinner and then head out to a rock dance class with my French friends. The dance class is extremely crowded with about 100 people and my tiredness doesn’t help as I am sure to be doing the dance moves incorrectly. The dance teacher keeps coming to find me too correctly and I feel very embarrassed but I continue until the end. Feeling exhausted, I head to bed.

Today I don’t have any classes at my school but I have got 2 classes to give privately. My first private English class starts at 9 and finishes at 10h30. The girl I teach is 12 years old but super motivated, which makes her a pleasure to teach.
I then go to meet my friend with whom I practice the dance moves that I learnt yesterday. We then have yummy pizza for lunch and then visit the Mont Valerien fort where the Germans shot the French resistants during world war two. I feel super sad thinking that this is the place where people would have spent the last minutes of their lives when they had fought for a good cause. I feel really grateful to be alive.

With this positive mindset, I go to teach my next class. I have prepared some activates based on superstitions. This lesson is quite important for me as it is the next lesson that I plan to teach my students at the school so I use this lesson as a practice to see what works and what can be improved. After my lesson, I clean my flat and spend the evening relaxing.

Thursday is another one of my days off but of course I make plans to teach privately and see my friends whilst discovering Paris. I give my first class at 09h30 to a 30 year old woman who is very friendly and has a beautifully decorated Parisian apartment. Next I go to explore the Parisian ‘China town’ in Choisy with my friends. We hang out and drink an Asian speciality: bubble tea. Later on in the evening, I give another lesson to a young 16 year old girl.

Today I have two hours of teaching and speaking with other assistants has given me the idea to introduce a vocabulary game at the start of the lesson to encourage even the shy students to participate in my classes. 

My classes are pretty nice today and I do not have any disciplinary issues and I bring smarties in to motivate my students. Finally my working week is over at 15h30. I go to the staff room to wish the other teachers a good holiday and head home.

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