Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Job

As I mentioned earlier, I got a new job!

I've had it for a while, so it's not exactly new...but it remains a second job. Basically, my landlord has a friend who teaches English to adults as part of a job training or self-improvement course set up by the French government. The goal is to take an ESL test at the end of a six-week intensive immersion training course (called the TOEIC) which will make these candidates who participated more employable, and (one would hope) more fluent in English. It is particularly geared toward the unemployed (like everywhere else at the moment, France has a pretty high unemployment rate) or those looking to switch careers--either completely or in the form of a promotion. . It happened very spontaneously because my landlord is friends with the woman who runs the program. Basically, they were desperate. I happen to be a native English speaker. As they say, et voi!

Anyway, I talked to the woman who runs the operation here in La Ciotat. They were basically desperate for an English speaker, so I was hired without an interview. Though I'm technically not allowed to have a second job here, an exception has been made: provided I don't shirk my high school English teaching responsibilities. Which I wouldn't (I consider myself very conscientious) and besides, there's not much to the high school responsibilities, and there's not much difference between the two jobs. I'm basically putting in more hours, that's all.

The course is a benefit of the French social security system, and my salary is paid for by the French government  Sometimes the students are grouped by their professions, i.e. all secretaries in one group, all flight attendants in another, but my group was quite varied: three med techs, a nurse, a real estate agent, a press agent, a couple of international businessmen, a high-end fashion salesperson, a flight attendant, a tour guide and a dental hygienist.

I'm not really busier than I was in Austria. I've been reusing lesson plans to the hilt (hoping it doesn't show and come off as lazy...) but I've also been tailoring them to a French audience. Since my students started coming, we've been having a lot of fun in class (I think). I'm trying to be as supportive (i.e. as uncritical) as possible to let them embrace learning English, even if they make lots of mistakes. Rome wasn't built in a day, after all, and I think they get enough disparagement from their teachers. If they get more from a native speaker, they'll probably never learn English!

Besides, I must always remember that I myself am a learner of languages. My French is pretty good, but I'm not a native speaker by any means, and I make plenty of mistakes myself. The coolest part of teaching is when I can give the kids slang or regionalisms, and then translate them. I think it catches them by surprise because they're led to believe I don't know any French.

My best example is from yesterday. We were talking about stereotypes of the French vs. stereotypes of Americans. I hinted around about the French being more "romantic" but they didn't get it until I spelled it out. One boy said, "Oh, no. That's more the Italians." I and I said, "Sure. But there are plenty of pick-up artists in France." They stared at me blankly until I intoned, "A pick-up artist is a dragueur, by the way," which sent them rolling in the aisles.

My compliments to French in Action for teaching me that word in the first place!

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