While it seems like everyone around me has already been contacted by their schools, I am still waiting to hear something from mine. It won’t make any difference if it’s today or if it’s a month from now, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not anxious to find out!
I’m thinking more and more about the job that we have been hired to do. It goes without explaining that I am super stoked, but at times I get a little bit anxious. What will my classes be like? Will they be as excited to learn English as I am to teach it? How do I make learning it fun? How do I prepare for this?
Reading through other assistants’ blogs, I am gleaning some tips here and there about the best and worst parts of the job but it seems like the consensus is that you won’t know much until you’re there. For one assistant, their class was divided into small groups and they worked with a different group each class period; and at a different school they were in charge of the entire class. How you run the class will differ based on how the main teacher divides it up. “Assistant” could be a misnomer.
I worked as a Supplemental Instructor for French for three years. We were not allowed to call ourselves tutors, but that’s really what we were. I attended class with my students and then held three hours of out-of-class sessions each week. I did not teach new material, but I was available to help clarify concepts, to help with homework, and to most of the time re-teach the class. I created mini-lesson plans and printed off hundreds of worksheets over the course of those three years. However, I never had a group of more than ten students, and we all spoke English.
So, I have some experience that will help me when I go to France, but for the most part it will be a new experience for me and a chance to learn how to teach English to non-English speakers. I read one blog where the assistant learned that teaching was not for her. I don’t think that will be the case for me, but I am excited to learn what does and doesn’t work when teaching English.
I read our job described as focused on facilitating conversation in English through activities and showing them our culture. That’s so vague, I’m not sure what to expect! Will we be doing grammar? Every foreign language class I’ve taken has focused more on grammar than anything else, but the method is completely different in the US than it is in Europe, I’ve heard. If we are not teaching grammar, then what do we do if our students don’t even have a grasp of the basics? Since I will be in primary school, I am imagining that that will be the case. So where do we start with teaching them?
On that note, what and how do we prepare? I read a recommendation that we bring photos and things related to our national holidays and how we celebrate them, and I imagine we will go over vocabulary related to that, but other than organizing American-y things, how do I prepare? When I think about this, I start to feel so overwhelmed. Any tips would be appreciated. I want to prepare as much material as I can before I arrive in France so that maybe I won’t be quite as overwhelmed.