You might envision a classroom when you think about most teach abroad programs, but what is it like to serve as an English Conversation Coach? What will a typical day be like? Will you have time to explore? What types of tutoring activities will you do with the kids?
Look no further than our experienced alums for answers! We sat down with former English Conversation Coach France participant Maia H. to get the lowdown on what it’s actually like to teach English in France. Maia spent 11 weeks with a French host family in Louveciennes, a western suburb of Paris.
Can you describe a typical day on the English Conversation Coach France program?
On a typical day, the children would go to school, so I had the morning and afternoon to make my own plans. I often went into Paris for a few hours each day. The train ride from the house into the city was very easy. Once I was in Paris, I typically did a walking tour, visited a museum, or stopped at a restaurant or cafe for lunch.
In the late afternoon, I’d return to the house and tutor one child for a few hours each day. There were three children in my host family, so we had a weekly schedule to determine who worked with me each day.
After our lesson, I helped to prepare dinner, and we all ate together each night. This was a good opportunity to converse in English and to further expose the children to the language.
What types of activities did you do with the host children to help them with their English?
One of the children was applying to universities and taking standardized tests in English, so she and I often worked on essays and example test questions together. We also worked on writing speeches that she would present in her English class at school.
With the younger children, we worked from workbooks that were designed for their respective levels in school. This work involved reading and writing, in addition to listening to recordings and watching videos in English to work on comprehension. One of my favorite lessons involved baking a cake using a recipe written in English.
What was the most rewarding aspect of the program?
The most rewarding aspect of the program was learning about French culture firsthand. Living with a French family offered a truly authentic experience, and I was able to make a strong connection with my host family. It was also rewarding to see how the children developed, and I was proud to hear that the oldest child received excellent test scores after all of our preparation.
In terms of personal development, it was a great opportunity for me to explore a foreign country on my own and to travel to several European countries.
How do you think this experience will help you in your future career?
For my next career move, I am exploring the field of User Experience (UX) Design within technology. This work involves understanding different perspectives in order to accommodate different groups in technology design. Living abroad, I began to understand how difficult it can be to understand a foreign system, such as public transportation in a different country.
This experience put me in unfamiliar situations, with a language barrier on top of that, and allowed me to develop my empathy for people who are learning a new system. I know that empathetic thinking is valuable in the UX field, so I am grateful that I experienced unfamiliarity in a new place and can better identify with anyone who has ever felt the same way.
Ready to tutor English in France? We accept applications year-round for the English Conversation Coach France program. Start and end dates are flexible - just apply three months before your desired start date. No teaching experience or French language skills are required - just an open mind, and flexibility!