Teaching through TAPIF is both a frustrating and rewarding experience (see: TAPIF: An Ugly Mess). This post is dedicated to the reasons why I plan on doing TAPIF again next year.
Reasons why teaching through TAPIF is Amazing:
It gives Américains (as well as other native English, Spanish, Italian, and German speakers from various parts of the world) a chance to live and work (legally) in France for 7 months.
It introduces assistants to a different educational system. Who knew that elementary teachers in France stand on a small stage when they write on the chalkboard? It certainly adds new meaning to the idea that ‘teachers are performers.’
It’s the best way for French immersion. First off, living in France will force you to speak French – even if you’re spending 12 hours a week teaching anglais, English. Secondly, most of the students will know very little anglais, so, speaking some French is often a requirement while teaching anglais. Especially, for those words that are hard to ‘show’ in the form of a gesture or an image.
It enables the assistant to spend time exploring France. 12 hours a week leaves some room for exploration and travel. However, it’s important to note that assistants spend a lot of time outside of class (aka. outside of the paycheck) preparing for lessons (I spend about 5 hours extra a week). With this extra work in mind, I’ve had time to explore other parts of France such as cities in the south around Aix-Marseille (Cassis, Carry-le-Rouet, and Eguilles… to name a few) and Montpelier as well as Tours and Paris (in the north).
It provides the assistant with adorable students! At the primary level, the students love you! They even draw you pictures, hug you, give you les bises, and try to show-off their limited English skills to you. They’re just so CUTE!
It provides the assistant with an ideal work schedule. Every assistants’ schedules are different; however, no one works the weekend (woohoo!). I work Monday-Tuesday all day & Wednesday until 11:30 (class ends at 11:30 on Wednesday’s and Friday’s). So, my weekend starts on Thursday, though, Thursday usually ends up being my “un-wind-from-the-work-week” day (I lounge around a good portion of the day).
It includes paid vacation time! Assistants get about 8 weeks of vacation during the 7 month work contract. That’s not including the random fériés (government holidays) that are placed throughout the school year. For example, there’s one on Armistice Day and there’s another one on the Monday after Easter (“Easter Monday”).
It enables assistants to work with a variety of French professors. This is an advantage because assistants can start building a network, which could help the assistant find more or better teaching (or anything) jobs in France. This is perfect for those assistants who plan to stay and work in France once the program finishes. I’m lucky that my colleagues are nice and inviting. I’ve already had some of them refer me for various English teaching/tutoring jobs throughout Marseille.
It prepares assistants for any type of “real world” work. Sure, assistants are only part-time; however, we have a full-time workload. I prepare lessons (for all elementary school levels) and then teach those lessons to about 200 students a week. I didn’t even have that many students when I taught French full-time in the US! Thus, the TAPIF program certainly prepares assistants for everything – whether it’s classroom management, working as a team or alone, or time management – the assistant is prepared for almost any type of work once the program finishes (often, other work outlets seem too easy). *On a side note, despite what Washington has to say about Américains working 2 years in a row, according to the CIEP, Américains can do the program 2 years in a row! Current assistants simply re-apply to the program by filling out this application on the CIEP website and then e-mailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailing it via post to:
Département langues et mobilité
Unité assistants de langue
1, avenue Léon Journault
92318- Sèvres cedex
The TAPIF adventure doesn’t end at #9 because I plan on working with this program again next year! I look forward to what next year will bring. The directeurs of my schools have told me that they will do what they can to get the CIEP to keep me in their schools next year, so, that’s a plus!
*Of course, my experiences with TAPIF are through teaching at the primary level in the Académie Aix-Marseille. Other académies may function differently, which is one reason why not every assistant‘s experience is the same.♦