Teaching English as a Foreign Language
What’s your vocation? Maybe you haven’t found it yet, in which case I certainly hope you do. As for me, I find that it is impossible to fully describe the fulfillment and joy I have gained from teaching. While studying abroad as a student enrolled in the CIEE Rennes Liberal Arts program, I have had the good fortune of participating in CIEE’s Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) program, and I hope that in sharing my experience I can perhaps inspire some of you to do the same.
Every week, I look forward to my hour-long English class at Saint Martin Highschool. The school is old but well-maintained, with a stone exterior and simple minimalist interior design. My seventeen students in 1ère (Juniors) file enthusiastically into the classroom to take their seats before the bell while I write the attendance question on the whiteboard. It is strange and wonderful how despite coming from a another culture and speaking a different native language, these students still embody the same energy and roles that I have seen in my classes at home.
Unlike my pedagogy courses and field experiences in the United States, I have had a great deal of freedom to decide what I want to teach and how I want to teach it. Although my pedagogy course here in France offers guidance, I don’t have strict standards or specific objectives to meet. I have been able to try new tactics to teach my students, choosing subject matter based on the interests they’ve expressed. I’ve also developed my lesson-planning skills and engaged my students with the English language in new and exciting ways. We’ve been able to hold conversations on complex topics that interest them, read authentic English texts, and discuss their own lives outside of the classroom.
My students have benefited from these classes as much or even more than I have. I offer my students insight into American culture, teaching them little linguistic nuances and specialized slang. The knowledge my students gain from this class will be useful, no matter what they decide to do with their lives. It will enable them to understand their coworkers and friends from other cultures and will help them improve their communication skills.
The importance of teaching programs is frequently underestimated. The ability to teach is beneficial for everyone, even those not interested in going into education. The classroom management skills you can learn while teaching are valuable for any vocation, as are the organization and lesson planning practices.
Kids are kids everywhere. I’d be lying if I told you teaching was always easy. It’s not. However, I have learned more about education and French society in my sessions with these students than I could have ever hoped. This experience has been indispensable, and I would strongly recommend it.
St Olaf College
CIEE-Rennes LA Spring 2023
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