The whole reason I was in Europe in the first place was because I got a job as a Language Assistant in France. This was a very interesting experience, to put it simply. Overall I loved it. I had some really great students and a lot of fun times. But this is not to say that it did not come with its difficulties.
I was assigned to a lycée in the small town of Blois. My first week was a week of observation. I met the teachers, sat in on some of their classes, and had a brief introduction to the students. When I was looking over the list of my students, I noticed that some of them were actually my age or older, which surprised me. I decided not to let this be known to the students, as I figured it may make me less of an authoritative figure if they knew I was younger than them. This proved a bit difficult as many of my students, especially the guys, wanted to know how old I was. I told them I was 100.
Other than my age, the most frequently asked question by my students, when they found out I was Canadian, was about maple syrup. Literally every single one of them wanted to know what maple syrup was like, its taste, its texture. This overwhelming interest in maple syrup made me laugh really hard, and when I told them I didn’t actually eat it very much they seemed very surprised.
One of my classes was just boys, about 20 of them, and they were the rowdiest group I’ve ever come across. They were not easy to handle, and were, needless to say, not my favourite class. But besides them, the majority of my students were really quite lovely and tried hard to participate in my lessons.
I had a lot of fun making lesson plans. I tried to make them as interactive as possible. My main goal as a Language Assistant was really just to get the students talking in English as much as possible, so I came up with as many ideas as I could of things for us to talk about. One of my lessons was about superheros and villains. This was probably my favourite lesson, and was one of the easier lessons to get my students participating in (in some of my classes, getting participation going was like pulling teeth). The final activity of the lesson was to create their own superhero/villain, and this was where the students really started opening up. One of my classes got so into it that they drew pictures of their superheroes/villains and gave them to me at the end of class, which I adored. Getting to hear all the elaborate backstories they had come up with for their creations was hilarious.
I’m really happy that I got to have this experience. It was something that I’d wanted to do for a long time, and it was nice to feel like I’d somehow maybe made a difference in someone’s life. I got to see my students improve and grow more confident, and it was really nice.