The reason I’m out here is to be a language and culture assistant so I should really tell you a bit about what it’s been like so far. In my first couple of weeks I was just introducing myself and then encouraging to students to ask any questions in English. The most common one I received from the boys, whilst they were calculating the age difference, was whether I was single! But all the students were very enthusiastic and excited to learn about England. I have had to several times attempt to defend English cuisine against contemptuous Frenchmen and they do look at me quizzically when I try to explain Marmite or even baked beans. Also vinegar on chips gets a lot of strange looks.
So I am working in 2 schools: Patu de Rosemont Vocational High School (my contact there is the wonderful Betty) Monday and Tuesday and at Amiral Bouvet General High School (my contact there is Pierre) on Thursday and Friday. And I live at the boarding house attached to Bouvet school. The students at both schools are great, although the level of English is higher at Amiral Bouvet making it a bit easier to teach there. I have now started classes where I take a small group of students away to discuss a certain topic or theme. One of the ones I had last week I had to discuss child labour with them which was pretty tricky considering they didn’t really understand what I was saying. But with every class you have some kids who are really bright and clever so we managed.
I did think that a lot of the students love English and were eager to practice it but it turns out that many of them volunteer to come to classes with me just to look at me and listen to my voice. Out of the students I see I think probably 95% of them are teenage boys, but they are always very respectful and polite towards me. Although, I have been jokingly propositioned several times to go to their houses for “dance” lessons or to give private English lessons..
My role is quite important here, as a native speaker I am responsible for getting the final year students prepped for their baccalaureate English oral exam. This means helping them with their presentations and getting them used to debating and discussing certain topics within the ‘notions’ of Power; Progress; Myths and heroes and Spaces and exchanges – I’m still trying to wrap my head around that so I don’t think I’m very good at the teaching yet but hopefully I’ll improve soon!