Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day 22: A Day in the Life of an ESL Teacher (France edition)

OK, this one is a little bit harder than Korea. In Korea, I had the same basic schedule, being at school 8:40-4:40 every day, teaching 4-5 classes every morning, and deskwarming in the afternoons. I taught approximately 22 hours a week.

In France, it's different, because I only work 3 days a week usually (4 days max), 12 hours a week. I don't always teach 12 hours though, because classes get canceled for exams, or like yesterday, it was a snow day. Some days I teach 3 classes, some days 5, but the best part is no "deskwarming". I can leave when my classes are finished, and don't have to show up until they're starting. I do sometimes have downtime because clearly I can't leave if I've got an hour break between two classes, but there are computers in the teacher's room I can use to facebook and check my email. I also try and socialize with the other teachers in they're around. Of course, I also have to follow the train schedule on Monday and Thursday (Tuesdays I ride to and from school with a teacher) and some days that means I must arrive an hour early to school or wait an hour to leave because that's when the nearest train time is.

My schedule also changes by term (which are roughly 6 weeks), which is different from Korea because there my schedule was the same for the entire semester. Tuesdays this term are my long days. I work 9-5. I normally have 5 classes (although today I had 6!), so I do have some breaks in there as there are 9 class hours a day. On Mondays, I have 4 classes all in a row from 12-4 (with a 15 minute break around 3pm). On Thursdays, I have 3 classes between 8-12. Last term I worked the same days but had 4 classes on each day and they were mostly different hours/different classes.

I teach all the grade levels in collège (middle school), which in France is 6ème, 5ème, 4ème, and 3ème. These are equivalent to 6th-9th grade in the US. Their English levels all really vary, so I can't say I have a favorite grade level. One of my favorite students is in 6ème, a couple are in 4ème, and some are in 3ème. It's quite a mixed bag.  I have 6ème kids with English parents who speak almost fluently and 3ème kids who can barely say "He has got brown hair." (which is 6ème level learning) I usually take half the students for half the class period, but sometimes I stay in the class with the teacher, and sometimes I have smaller groups of students for a shorter amount of time. It really depends on the class and the teacher's preference!

I get along well with all my teachers, even though some of them don't let me know what I should do for their class until the day before. They all speak English pretty fluently (they don't know ALL the slang but it's extremely easy to have a conversation with them on almost any topic; except the one who's actually English, of course she's completely fluent), so I mostly speak with them in English although I try and speak to the other teachers in French. It's hard though because even though they're all older than me, they use quite a bit of slang and speak really fast so I get lost all the time most of the time sometimes. I was really proud of myself for making a doctor's appointment over the phone today, though, all in French and without any help!

One of the weirdest things to me is "faire la bise," the infamous double-cheek kiss. If it seems like they're overdoing it in French films, they're not; EVERYONE does it, including men with other men. At school, I bisou with some of the English teachers, but because I know them pretty well it's not too weird. I've gotten used to it anyway. Because I'm not French most of the other teachers don't bother to try with me, but occasionally one of the male PE teachers tries to bisou me and it really freaks me out! I just want to say, "DUDE I DON'T KNOW YOU YOU'RE IN MY PERSONAL SPACE BACK AWAY!" It's not even like he's old and ugly, it's just that I literally never speak to him ever at school so it's just super strange. I just sort of lean out of it if he tries to lean in, and usually I hear him mutter in French (probably about weird Americans) afterward. Sorry, I just can't. It's awkward. I need my face space, dude.

So that's about it!

On a completely different note, I've officially applied for my New Zealand working holiday visa and I've got an appointment for a new chest x-ray to accompany the visa in a few weeks (that's the doctor's appointment phone call I did all in French today). Fingers crossed!!

See you tomorrow,
xx Kaylin

1 comment:

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