Teaching, Learning, and the Excuse to Travel
I often sit inside of Toulouse’s Notre Dame, an old, airy church on Rue de Taur, one of the city’s most well-known roads because it leads right to the Saint Sernin, a pretty famous church in France. I visit the Notre Dame for the simple quiet that it offers, unlike the Saint Sernin, which has frequent visitors. It’s just a door, really, that leads to an open space right off the road. It’s not a church that tourists frequent, but rather a place where people who live here come for worship, or, like me, for solitude. It makes me realize that I’m no longer a visitor; I actually live here. But how did this happen?
In December 2005, I began wondering what to do with myself after my upcoming May graduation. I was nearly finished with my English requirements and decided to take two more last-minute French classes. Then it occurred to me, I always wanted to live abroad, in France, especially, so I went to the French Culture website, looked at the English teaching assistant page and decided to apply. There are several programs offered; I chose the CIEP (the Centre international d’etudes pédagogiques). I received an acceptance letter from the Academie de Toulouse the day before graduation, and by September I was living in Toulouse. I now teach
English conversation to kids and monsters aged 15-20 years old and spend time traveling the region and taking side trips to other countries.
I think that anybody can be an English language assistant. It only requires a bit of paperwork, fluency in your language and an understanding of the language of the country where you would like to live. (Some countries, like Asian countries including Korea and Japan, don’t require knowledge of their language.) You receive medical and dental insurance, a salary, and sometimes lodging. It also gives you the opportunity to gain teaching skills, become fluent in a language, get to know and appreciate other cultures and best of all, it’s a great excuse to travel. I know I will return to the United States with a new mentality, an appreciation for the advantages of hard work, missing new friends, and oodles of stories to tell. So, if you don’t know what you’re going to do with all of this English knowledge when you graduate, take something like this into consideration. You know the language, just spread it.