English Language Assistant in France – A Day in the Life

Rebonjour à tous !

In my last post I mentioned that I was starting back work after les vacances d’hiver and that I would like to tell you more about what it is that I actually do on a daily basis here in France, so that’s exactly what this blog post is about. To refresh your memory, I work as an English Language Assistant for an organisation called the British Council. More specifically, I work with pupils aged 11-15 in two collèges in Toulouse.

The role of an English Language Assistant is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin – we are there to assist the English teachers by giving pupils an opportunity to learn English with a native speaker and to hear an authentic anglophone accent. Having said that, the tasks and activities carried out by an assistant can differ from person to person, depending on how the school wants to utilise your presence. For example, I work in two schools in the same town but my experiences in both are very different. In school A, I work on Mondays and Thursdays but don’t have specific hours so my schedule changes weekly depending on which classes the teachers want me to assist that week. Whereas in school B, I work on Tuesdays and Fridays with set hours that never change, meaning I see the same pupils every week. However, the main objective of both schools is to encourage the pupils to talk and hold conversations in English. With this in mind, the aim is for the classes is to be fully immersive which means we are not allowed to talk to the pupils in French. This can sometimes make things challenging as I have to find simple ways to explain tasks and concepts to make sure they understand properly.

Below is my weekly schedule at school B where I work with 6ème (11/12 years old) and 3ème (14/15 years old) pupils.

TuesdayFriday
 8:25-9:20 (6èmes)
 9:25-10:20 (6èmes)
 10:30-11:25 (6èmes)
14:15-15:10 (3èmes) 
15:20-16:15 (6èmes)15:20-16:15 (3èmes)

While I only work 12 hours a week for the British Council, I also do two hours of private tutoring a week so once you factor in the commute to and from work, a large chunk of your week is taken up. However, I do still have time to explore La Ville Rose and spend time with my friends. I documented April 1st to show you an example of how I might spend a day at work here in Toulouse.

A Day in my Life – April 1st, 2022

6:00 – Je me suis levée et je me suis préparée pour le travail.

7:30 – J’ai pris le metro et le bus. To access public transport, I scanned my ‘Carte Pastel’. It is a travel card which allows unlimited travel on all buses, metros and trams in Toulouse – all for 16 euros a month. It’s incredible!

8:25-11:25 – J’ai fait mes cours du matin. On this particular day, I was teaching the kids about food in Britain as the following week was La Semaine des Langues in France where the pupils would have the opportunity to try food from countries around the world from the languages studied at their school – English, Spanish and German speaking countries.

11:30-14:30 – Je suis rentrée à mon appartement pour manger. For lunch, I typically visit my local boulangerie on the way home to buy a baguette for 1 euro. I normally eat this with some soup and occasionally a mint green tea. I visit this boulangerie more than I care to admit – there are so many tasty pastries and goodies!

15:20-16:15 – J’ai fait mes derniers cours. On this particular day it was April Fool’s Day (known as poisson d’avril in France), so the pupils were a little overexcited and these fish could be found all around the school.

16:30-17:30 – J’ai fait les cours particuliers. On a Friday, I tutor a 3ème pupil from one of my schools. She is very shy and lacks confidence in English so her mum hired me, not to do grammar lessons, but simply to talk with her in English and bring her out of her shell. She has grown so much in confidence since I first met her, it’s really rewarding to see. I’m so proud of her!

19:00 – J’ai mangé dans un restaurant avec mon amie. I sometimes meet a friend for dinner on a Friday evening as a treat after a long week of work. On this particular night we ate in a restaurant called l’Entrecôte where there is only one thing on the menu – unlimited steak and chips with their ‘special sauce’. It’s slightly on the pricier side but we decided to treat ourselves as it was my birthday on March 27th, and I wasn’t able to celebrate as I had been stuck in isolation because I caught covid 3 days before my birthday (what luck!)

While not every day looks exactly like this one, it’s a good indicator of a typical day in my life on a work-day. I hope you all enjoyed getting a look into my role as an English language assistant in France. Perhaps it’s something you’d consider doing in the future if you want to spend time in France and improve your French skills. The pupils are always really excited to see me and it fills me with so much joy and pride to see their confidence and English skills grow every day – it’s certainly a rewarding job!

Thanks for reading, until next time!

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