Experiences as an ELA (Part III)

Our final account of a year as an English Language Assistant comes from Ellen, who found herself in Sarreguemines in the Moselle region for her year:

‘Last year I applied to be a language assistant in France in order to improve my understanding of the French language and culture. During my time abroad I saw lots of France, discovered the culture, practised and improved my French but I gained so much more. Being a language assistant gave me the opportunity to try teaching for the first time and I have realised that it is a career that I would love to pursue in the future.

2016 Ingram Photo 4

I arrived at Lycée Jean de Pange in Sarreguemines (Moselle) last September and I had no idea what to expect. The school was very welcoming when I arrived and was keen to give me information about the area and help me settle in. On the second week I was thrown into the deep end and was given groups of pupils to teach (on my own) about Scotland and Scottish culture. At first I was terrified but very soon I became comfortable in my role and enjoyed leading the classes.

Throughout the year I spent most of my working week at the lycée teaching students up to the age of 22. I spent two hours a week at Collège Fulrad teaching pupils who were as young as 10. It was difficult at first to find an appropriate style of lesson for each age group but with the help and advice of the teachers and spending time with the pupils I soon became more able to create suitable and (hopefully) interesting classes. I had one class a week with the BTS which was something that I never really got used to as it was really strange to teach people who were older than me, especially when they referred to me as ‘Madame’.

2016 Ingram Photo 2

My main aim was to teach the pupils about Scottish and British culture in English so they could learn more about the country as well as improve their language skills. I made lessons about Scottish pop music, films, history and events and celebrations. On St Andrews day I told them about the history of Saint Andrew and it is celebrated in Scotland by teaching them some Scottish dances and letting them try some tablet and shortbread. I found it really rewarding when my lessons went well, especially when the students told me that they enjoyed it. Over the year I also got the opportunity to assist marking course work and CV’s as well as helping with speaking exams. I learned more about the role of a teacher as well as the French education system in general.

Working at Lycée Jean de Pange and Collège Fulrad was a fantastic experience which was made possible by the support from the teachers and students at both schools. At the end of the year I was sad to leave especially after receiving lovely gifts and messages from the schools. On my last day the 6è class performed ‘Hello, Goodbye’ by the Beatles which was really sweet. A week after finishing the assistantship, I got to join the pupils and teachers on the school trip to Edinburgh which was a really strange but rewarding experience. It was so nice to see the students get to see places that I had taught them about over the year and remember stories about particular places and historical events.

2016 Ingram Photo 1

Overall, I had a brilliant time in France and learned so much. I would encourage anybody who is considering applying to be an assistant to go for it as for me the experience has been something that I could never regret.’