Liane Grant, France, English Teaching Assistantship

Hello!  My name is Liane; I graduated from UCI in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in French and I’m in France through the TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France).  This means that the French Government hired me to be an English Teaching Assistant for 7 months and is paying me a living wage to work 12 hours a week (and enjoy living in France…).  Oh – and did I mention that here in France every 6 or 7 weeks the schools have 2 weeks of vacation? 

I’ve been here for about two-and-a-half months now and have been having a great time.  Besides teaching, I’ve gotten to travel in Belgium for a week, do Paris and visit Heidelberg in Germany (not to mention a few little day trips to places in France and in Germany!).  Oh, and this weekend I’m going to visit Luxembourg! 

I was placed in Freyming-Merlebach.  Where is that – you ask?  Why, that’s due east of Paris, past Metz, and smack dab on the German border.  It’s a little town with a population of 14,000 or so.  It is a great location to visit a number of different countries!  I work 8 hours a week in a Vocational High School and 4 hours a week in a Middle School.  The two schools are very different from one another and so are my jobs in each one. 

At the high school, I’m working with the “less academically inclined” set of students.  These are all students that aren’t bound for the university and will, instead, be going straight into the real world as chefs, waiters, salespeople, or will work in childcare or with the elderly.  Here I mostly do what the teachers ask me; normally, I do a lesson here and there about American culture or a presentation to model how the students should do one, but mostly, I try to help prepare the students for their oral exams they will have to pass to graduate and get a job. 

At the middle school, the students understand just as much as the high school students (and sometimes even better!).  I have very little guidance in this school and get to choose any topic I want. And, I also have the freedom and autonomy to choose if I want to work with the whole class at a time, or work with half the class first and then switch.  I’ve done the basics on Halloween and Thanksgiving, but also lessons on Dr. Seuss and football!  The students are really eager to learn and it is a lot of fun. 

I’m one of the lucky assistants, in that my post offers me free board.  I live in the school “dorm” which houses about 40 of the high school students during the week.  During the weekend, everyone goes home and the building is empty.  I’m allowed to stay, but I always go home with one of the teachers if I’m not doing a little traveling.  I’m a bit isolated, but the teachers I work with do a lot to compensate by helping me get to the train station and making sure I have everything I need. 

Overall, I’m having a good time and this is an amazing opportunity for anyone who wants to teach or just work in France.  For anyone who is interested,  you don’t need to know a lot of French – sometimes it’s better to not know too much French because then you won’t be tempted to use it in class, which is a bit of a challenge for me.  If you want to know more details about my time here, check out my blog (



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