Three UMKC grads earn assignments in France
It is a teaching assignment that sounds a bit like a lengthy, wonderful trip abroad. For three recent UMKC graduates, that was the drawing card.
Bailey Grim, Nathan Hoffmann and David Strecker successfully applied to the Teaching Assistant Program, and will make their way to France to live and teach from October 1, 2014, to April 30, 2015.
Strecker and Hoffmann were attracted to the immersion in French life and culture.
Strecker described it as “operating as French citizens do: opening a bank account, finding an apartment and supporting yourself without financial assistance,” while Hoffmann relished the idea of “getting out of my comfort zone and integrating into local life.”
Each year, more than 1,000 Americans teach in public schools throughout metropolitan France, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion. Depending on their assignments, they may work with elementary or secondary students. Assistants teach 12 hours per week, all in English, in up to three schools. They lead conversations in English, serve as resources and talk about American studies.
The program is operated by the French Ministry of Education, the Centre International d’ Études Pédagogiques (CIEP) and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. The program aims to provide English-language instruction in French schools by native speakers.
When she asked the foreign language faculty for travel tips, Grim recalls the two best pieces of advice: “Have an overall wonderful experience, and bring extra money.”
The teaching positions are very competitive because it is such a unique experience for Americans to improve their language skills and be exposed to French society. Candidates’ French-language skills must be equivalent to level B1 on the European Framework of Reference. The chance of selection is improved if the candidate has some teaching experience, has worked with children or young adults, or has lived abroad.
UMKC’s French Department was instrumental in preparing and encouraging the students to apply; but the three graduates offered special thanks to Kathy Krause, Gayle Levy, Lindsy Myers and Cherie Leimkuehler. They said the staff of the International Academic Programs office also provided vital aid in the application process.
Hoffmann knows the ropes about European living, having gone to Mons, Belgium as a Fulbright English teaching assistant. Now he expects that another year in a French-speaking country will polish both his French and teaching skills. All three plan to travel and see as much as possible during their off-hours.