TAPIF: Week One

I didn't know what to use for a photo so here's a map of the town where I teach, Loos. 

I'm done with my first week as a teaching assistant, although I didn't actually assist with teaching anything. TAPIF has us do two weeks of observation at the schools we've been assigned to before we get into full gear.

My schools have taken this as a chance for me to learn about the French school system. I haven't necessarily been observing English classes, but I've gotten a chance to sit in on a class in every primary school level: CP, CE1, CE2, CM1 and CM2. I'll mostly be working with CM1 and CM2 kids. I've gotten to see pretty much every subject, too, from math to geography to gym and art (where I learned that if you have twenty two students doing a project involving mixing paint, there will be at least one spill).

The teachers have all been very welcoming, and are eager to make sure I feel comfortable at the schools. French teachers are very different from American teachers. They're much stricter, and they're not afraid to yell, something I'll definitely need to get used to. They also drink a lot of coffee, but fortunately this is a lifestyle that I can easily get on board with.

The students have been, if possible, even more welcoming. Word travels fast at these schools--I only need to observe one class before I have the entire student body saying "hello" to me instead of "bonjour."And what's hilarious is that if one kid says "hello," another close by will say "good morning." And then another kid will say "good afternoon." And another kid will say "good night," just to prove that they aren't repeating the words they've heard other kids say. They know what they're saying. They usually go back to French to ask me questions though. And I get a TON of questions. Some of the best (translated):

  • "Are you going to fly here from Washington every week to come to our class?"
  • "Where do burritos come from?"
  • "Can you get me autographs from the stars of NCIS: Los Angeles?"
  • "Where is Route 66?"
  • "Do you know about Frozen?
    • I've gotten this question from multiple students. At all three schools. And after I say yes, they either ask if I know that I have the same name as the princess or if I can sing "Let it Go." The answers are yes to the first, no to the second. 
  • "Can you count to 100 in English?"
  • "Have you ever met Rihanna?"
  • "Is Barack Obama nice?"
  • "If you're from America why do you speak English?"
  • "How do you say merde in English?"
    • I didn't answer that one

Some the kids were confused by my accent--not when I spoke French, but when I spoke English. This surprised me, because I don't think I speak in any strong regional dialect, but then I found out it's because they're used to British accents. The textbook used by at least two of the schools is called Cup of Tea. There are posters of London in almost every classroom. All the tapes and recordings they listen to in class have people with British accents. This should prove interesting. 

I have one more week of observations, and then school's out for two weeks of vacation. I'll have my first week of really assisting in November!


  1. But like ... have you met Rihanna?

    1. Unfortunately no...but I said that I had a friend who really liked Rihanna and maybe she'd met her. So now all the kids know about you!

  2. Those questions are so funny I'm practically crying with laughter.

    1. And they've only gotten better. The other day one of the kids asked me if I was married!