Teaching English in Nantes

When I was in Madrid, I did a lot of traveling. I did not take any local university classes, do any internships, or join any gyms. I just had fun exploring new areas and experiencing Europe. This semester, I decided I wanted to have some different and new experiences.

Being a Spanish and French major can be a great thing. You can pair languages with any field and it will make you more valuable. However, if you are like me who only likes to study languages, what do you do with two degrees in languages? As of right now, I can’t get paid to study a language, as cool as that would be. Unanimously I have heard three options: teaching, interpreting, or translating. I have tried all three but in an informal setting. This spring, I decided to look more seriously into these future career options. I took a class in translation and chose to do an English teaching internship.

My experience:

My program provided this internship opportunity, so I didn’t have to look far to be able to teach English. I was placed in a private school by the name of Saint Stanislas. I ended up teaching English six hours a week. I would teach middle school students between the ages of 10-14 for four hours on one day and engineering students my age for two hours. Before this internship, I already had some experience teaching basic Spanish classes to 2nd graders. I had also volunteered for a year in a bilingual charter school near my university. I knew this experience would be different from the others.

It was an overall positive experience that had some surprises. I enjoyed being able to teach about whatever I wanted to the middle school students. I was able to teach about topics that are actually useful such as pronunciation. I was also able to teach cultural lessons about the American school system and American regional food. I remember sitting in language classes and wondering why I was learning about some of the things I had learned about. I wanted to make this experience different not only for myself but also for my students.

With the students my age, I had less liberty. The teacher wanted me to do debates in small groups with the students. I tried to choose topics that wouldn’t make the students in the groups want to hurt each other after the debate. What surprised me the most about this experience was the fact that I thought I would enjoy teaching this group more than the younger students. I found the opposite to be true. I am not sure if it’s because of the freedom I had with the younger students or if it was because of the maturity level in the classroom. I found the French students to be surprisingly more disrespectful in class than American students.

The truth is, I did not get to teach the middle school students a whole lot because of trips they went on and their winter and spring breaks. However, I had not only gotten experience teaching them and students my age, but also being an assistant for a day in a Spanish classroom. It was very cool to be in a Spanish classroom setting in France, especially because if I go into teaching one day, I would not just consider teaching English but maybe Spanish in addition to English.

Tutoring:

One of the coolest experiences that has come out of doing this internship was the opportunity to tutor a high school student in Spanish. Upon meeting him, I asked him if he wanted me to teach him in French or Spanish since the class itself is taught in Spanish. He did not specify a preference, so I ended up teaching him Spanish in French. It was challenging to teach about Spanish subjunctive in French, especially considering neither of those languages are my native language, but doing this paid off. I did make a little bit of money on the side as a result of doing this but what I enjoyed the most was knowing that I was actually helping someone out.  After doing this internship and tutoring for a few weeks, I think I know a little bit more about what I want to do after graduating college and that, to a college student who is almost in their senior year, is a relief.

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