On Monday, October 6, I started my first full week supporting English instruction at 3 professional high schools. At lycée Georges Frèche, the students specialize in 1 of 3 industries: hospitality, culinary art, and tourism. In order to give the culinary students an opportunity to gain work experience, quite a few of them work in the cafeteria as well as a bakery and restaurant housed within the school grounds. The kids cook…I eat..we’re all happy 😉
Some of the students I work with at lycée Pierre Mendes France have already obtained their high school diploma and are enrolled in a national French 2 year degree program. After completing 2 years of alternating courses with practical training and experience at companies, these students will receive their Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (technician certificate) or BTS for short in either transport or sales.
In the 3rd high school –Lycée Professionnel Jules Ferry– students learn various trades such as cosmetology, sales, and hospitality. Some of them are doing a BTS program while others are doing a Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle (CAP) French degree program.
My role in the classroom varies depending on the teachers and the students with whom I’m working. Sometimes, I help the students with their pronunciation and grammar. Other times I do role-plays with the hospitality students where I act the part of an American client trying to book a room in a hotel. I also get the chance to conduct mock interviews with tourism students wishing to get hired at “my” travel agency company. In one of the schools we started an “English lunch table” where a couple English professors and I eat in the cafeteria with the students while chatting ONLY in English. This allows some students in the school whom I wouldn’t normally get to see in the classroom have contact with a native English speaker.
Here’s an encounter from one of my classes that had me shaking my head and smiling:
Last week I was with a class of students and was applauded for ‘sucking my teeth’. Some students were acting nonsensically, so I sucked my teeth at their antics. I was surprised to hear gasps and some of the following exclamations: Oh la! Mais elle sait tchiper! C’est cool! Elle est trop bien. (Oh my gosh. She knows how to suck her teeth. She’s so cool).
They were laughing because they didn’t know Americans knew how to suck their teeth. I was laughing because the students were ridiculous and easily excitable. Needless to say, my days can be pretty busy, but I have lots of fun.