Au Travail

Rebonjour ! J’espère que vous allez tous bien. For this blog post I thought I would give you a bit of a deeper insight into what I actually do here at work as an English Language Assistant on a day to day basis. It might even be something that you want to do in the future!

As I mentioned in my first blog post, I work in trois écoles primaires here in Clermont-Ferrand. My working week looks like this:

lundi

CM1/CM2 14:00-14:45

CP/CE1 14:45-15:15

CE2/CM1 15:15-16:00

mercredi

CM1/CM2 9:30-10:15

CE2 10:35-11:15

CM1/CM2 11:15-12:00

vendredi

CP 9:00-9:30

CE1/CE2 9:30-10:15

CM1/CM2 11:00-11:45

Do you remember from my first blog post what age the pupils in each class are?

Can you translate these facts about French schools?

  1. L’heure du déjeuner dure deux heures
  2. Les écoles ferment à midi le mercredi
  3. Les élèves ne portent pas d’uniform

The main focus of my work no matter what age group is la communication. This means that I only focus on speaking and listening tasks with the children, no reading or writing. The type of tasks vary depending on what we are learning at that given time, but the main goal of any learning point is to allow the children to be able to speak in English to each other, without any intervention from me at all! I find the best activity to allow this is a question and answer grid, like the one below:

Like & Dislike Q&A

For this exercise, which I used for the levels CE2-CM2, I had the pupils go round the class and find people to ask ‘Do you like…?’ using the hobbies and food vocabulary we had already learned, they would then put a tick if their partner responded ‘I like’ and a cross if they responded ‘I don’t like’. I could wander around the class to listen in and make sure everything was running smoothly, but other than that I left it fully up to them to fill their grids. This activity worked really well as a speaking and listening activity, whilst also applying a mix of vocabulary they had learned. It was really rewarding for me to see the pupils I had been teaching be able to work so well together using their English!

This was the last activity we worked on the topic of likes & dislikes, so obviously there were a few steps before getting here! One of the first steps is learning the vocabulary needed to be able to ask questions and answer them. To learn new vocabulary there are three steps I have to go through with the children:

1. Presentation

This first step involves introducing the new words to the children and having them repeat each word after me, with the correct pronunciation. To do this I make sure to use engaging flashcards or pictures on a powerpoint. This is essential to keep the pupil’s attention, especially when working with young age groups like CP!

2. Comprehension

This is where I check the children’s understanding of the new vocabulary. I usually do this by bringing a pupil up to the board , saying ‘show me…’ and getting them to point at the image of the word. I then check with the class if they have chosen the right image. This is a great way to really check understanding. Additionally, I do this a lot as a game with the class in two teams – adding a bit of competition is great for keeping the lesson fun and interesting!

3. Production

The final step is when the children can use the vocabulary themselves without any help from me. My favourite activity to do this is ‘what’s missing?’, where I remove a flashcard from the board whilst the children close their eyes and they have to tell me which one is missing.

After these steps the pupils know the vocabulary well and we can use the new words in activities linked to questions and answers! For example in the activity above where the children learned vocabulary for hobbies and foods, and then used these to ask about likes and dislikes.

Although this is just a snippet of my work, it’s a pretty good demonstration of what I do on a day to day basis, as the steps for learning and the activities used don’t tend to change too much! Another thing to note is that I am not allowed to use any French at all with the pupils… my classes are fully immersive and so I have to find easy ways to explain activities and new phrases/questions/vocabulary since I can’t speak French to them and they don’t speak English. With a lot of demonstrations and actions along with simple instructions, it’s easier than you may think!

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about my work as an English Language Assistant! These type of lessons are for my classes where I’m left to my own devices with the class, but of course in some other classes I am much more of an assistant and really do just help with pronunciation, and lead games. However, no matter what level of involvement the teacher expects from me, I think the qualities and skills needed for this type of work remain the same….

For example, I have to be très patient, motivée, positive et compréhensive. I also have to have de bonnes compétences en communication, en organisation et en gestion du temps. Can you translate these skills and characteristics? Maybe you could use them in your National 5 job applications!

That brings us to the end of this blog post, I hope you found it interesting. If there’s any other specific aspects of my year abroad you would like to know a bit more about feel free to leave a comment below!

Passez un bon week-end et à bientôt !

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