Assistant Spotlight with Charity Watson
I've noticed Charity around the TAPIF Assistant Facebook group and she's always so positive and helpful, so I knew she'd have some gems to share on Assistant Spotlight! Charity is a Jamaican-American assistant and is currently teaching in Fontainebleau.
Let's dive in!
Hi Charity! So, what made you want to teach English in France?
I really enjoyed learning French from native speakers back in high school (Le Lycée Français de Los Angeles), and I thought it would be cool to give a similar experience to students in France. Not to mention, it’s also pretty awesome to be able to live/work in a country that I’ve grown to adore since I was 14.
What level do you teach and how do you like it?
I currently teach in écoles maternelles (pré-school/kindergarten). It’s a very interesting and entertaining level. The children are always excited (about everything...literally EVERYTHING) which in turn makes me excited to teach them. It can be difficult sometimes, I won’t lie. I don’t have much experience teaching such a young age, and it’s quite different from my experience in lycée and collège. The kids are young and have 0 experience with English, but that just means I have to be a bit more creative with classes, and they seem to enjoy it so far.
What are three tips you have for future language assistants who want to teach in France?
1. We tend to romanticize France/French culture (and with good reason often, it’s a lovely place), but it’s important to remember that you’re coming here for a job that you must take seriously. The students really appreciate and need our presence, even if it may not always seem like it. I say that from experience with lycée and collège.
2. Go with the flow. You may have to be a bit flexible at times, as things here won’t always be what you’re used to. In order to prevent constant frustration, you just have to go with the flow.
. Try to travel if possible. We have great vacation time, and if it’s within your means, explore the country and surrounding countries. You won’t regret it.
As a language assistant, what resources do you find useful (for planning lessons, for using in class, etc.)?
Other assistants will prove to be a HUGE help. Also, the wonderful World Wide Web. Seriously, Google has been my BFF.
What has been your favorite lesson or activity you've been able to do with one of your classes?
My Christmas lesson. Since my kids are so easily excited, I introduced Christmas with a mystery bag full of different Christmas items. They got to feel the bag and make guesses (in French) as to what they thought was in there. And bit by bit, I revealed what was in the bag and they freaked. It was so cute because these are all things that exist in France and most of them had at home, but the added *mystery* of it being hidden and slowly revealed was so fun for them and for me.
What are you currently doing or working on in your free time in France?
I’m trying to improve my French (I should and could be doing a better job at that, i admit ;) ) as well as making plans for grad school. I’d like to get my Masters here in Paris.
Have you done much traveling since being here? Any favorite places?
I’ve travelled quite a bit around la France herself (the north, the south, the west, not too much of the east yet, though). I’ve also visited Spain, England, Belgium, and the Netherlands. I absolutely adore Spain and England. Before I head home for summer I’d like to knock Morocco and Greece off of my bucket list as well.
Do you have any budgeting advice for assistants in France?
Oh God. Lol. I’m probably not the best person to ask, I’ll be frank. One minute I can be the most frugal person, and the next, I'm spending as if we don’t make only €795. I’ve made it work though. I was better at budgeting when I lived in the countryside, but now that I’m back in Paris, I am THE WORST. Definitely try tutoring and babysitting for extra income. If your school offers housing, take it.
That's about it! Any last things that you'd like to add or any parting words to current and future teaching assistants in France?
This is going to sound cheesy, but it’s true. This can be such an amazing experience if you allow it to be. It’s hard being away from family, and at first it can seem a bit lonely, but put yourself out there, travel, use it as a way to really get to know yourself better and I promise you you’ll enjoy it. TAPIF’s main purpose is, yes, to teach English, but also use to be used as a time to enhance your cultural palette and grow as an individual. End cheesy rant.
Where can people find you in the online world?
Fun fact, last year I started a “So You Think You Can France” blog (same name, had no clue this existed), but unfortunately I’m just not the blogging type.
’m on Instagram as @parlez.francais (my personal) and my travel companion (my rubber duck Claude, more info on his page) is @thefrenchtravelduck.