Tatianna Thurik, English TA in France

Posted on December 7th, 2017 by

Studying French at Gustavus for four years just wasn’t enough for me. During senior year, I decided that I would like to continue learning French post graduation. So when I heard about the Teaching Assistant program in France, I started to research it. A few former Gustavus students had done the program and had really enjoyed it. The program is run through the French government and every year, they hire about 1,000 English assistants to teach English in French elementary, middle, and high schools for 7 months. In applying for the program, you are able to choose if you would prefer to work at the elementary or high school level and you can rank your preferences for which academic région in France you would like to work in.

After a lot of research, conversations, and many blog posts later, I decided that this was the program for me. I received my acceptance in April, and in the middle of July, I learned that I would be living in Saintes, France, teaching elementary school. I moved to France at the beginning of October and have been loving it ever since. I am lodged in one of the local high schools and live with a fellow English assistant from New Zealand. Every week, I visit four different elementary schools in Saintes. I teach kindergarten through fifth grade and have 16 different classes. Sometimes it’s a bit daunting, but I somehow manage to find fun new lessons to share with them every week. I’ve taught lessons ranging from as basic as « hello, my name is » to more complex lessons such as the American holiday Thanksgiving. Everyday I’m learning new things and how to make learning English fun and engaging for the students.

In addition to teaching in France, I spend a lot of my free time wandering the old Roman streets of Saintes and visiting markets. Saintes has a market almost everyday of the week. I like going to them and befriending the different merchants. Like this, I get to both use my French and feel more a part of the community. For me, these 7 months teaching English in France were exactly what I needed post graduation. So far, it’s allowed me to just enjoy being. It’s kind of an art of living over here in France, and I’m enjoying every minute.


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