No Joke

TAPIF writes that they will send email notifications of acceptances in the first week of April. So for the last two weeks, I have been alternately counting the days until April, forcing myself to think of anything else, vacillating between self-confidence and self-doubt, and drinking chamomile tea to calm my stomach/nerves.

April 1st dawned beautifully. I mean, it was really a pretty day! I woke up to an email alert on my phone, but I thought to myself, “No, no. It’s too early. The embassy isn’t even open yet. Just ignore that. Don’t get your hopes up.”

I got ready for work and picked up some breakfast on the way – a croissant, of course. (For luck?) I kept a steady line of encouragement up in my head: “No matter what, you’re still going abroad somewhere. If not France, maybe somewhere in Asia. And why are you so nervous today, anyway? Likely you won’t even hear until the very end of the week. They say this whole thing is just a waiting game.” 

At work I surreptitiously opened a tab just for my personal email… and kept refreshing it every minute or so. “Calm down! Don’t freak out! You’ve got a job to do, you know.”

The morning usually starts pretty quietly, but the phone started going off quite a bit a couple hours in. So there I am juggling phone calls, taking messages, typing emails, and looking up phone numbers when I subconsciously glance at my inbox and my eye catches a fragment of the address from which I just received a message: assistant.washington… “Holy caviar. This is it. That sure was fast.”  

My stomach immediately did a flip because I caught the title in that brief glance: Acceptance to the 2014-2015 TAPIF Program.

“Oh.
My.
Word…
Breathe.” 

I pulled myself together for a beat and a half and opened the email. “Congratulations. Académie de Dijon. Secondary level. Please confirm.” I swear those are the only words I saw the first time through. Then I spent the rest of my day reading little snippets about Burgundy when the phone would calm down and already building little castles in the air in France.

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So, it’s official-ish. I’m returning to France! Hooray! Once I get more information on what to do to prepare, you (my enormous readership…) will know all about it. À bientôt!

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Dream On!

Recently (read: for the last whole week) I read a few blogs about traveling/teaching in Europe, mostly from TAPIFers who have already gone through their year abroad. There were some comments about the absolutely horrible treatment at certain schools  and more than a few about the ineptitude of and snail’s pace that is the French government when it comes to paperwork, BUT I also read some absolutely lovely accounts of life en France.

One of my favorites, which I read from beginning to end, is the tale of an adventurous Texan girl teaching in south France whose time abroad I would LOVE to replicate for myself. Feel free to check out her experiences at :

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http://soyouthinkyoucanfrance.blogspot.com

For now, I am still persisting in my online EFL coursework and preparing for when TAPIF applications are available in mid-October. Just last week I made a visit to my local post office and sacrificed the $135 necessary for a US passport. That should arrive before the end of the month, which means as long as I complete my work as quickly as I hope to, I could be filling out that TAPIF application at the start of November.

And every time I think of where I could be this time next year, I fluctuate between excitement and the gut-twisting dread that I may not be accepted. No, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, and I have already spent a semester in Paris in college, but I have been working toward France. I have been building this nice little dream of starting out my English-teaching career in one of my favorite countries. God give me the strength should it not come to pass this time.

At that point, I would immediately begin looking for work in South Korea, which I hear is a nice place for new EFL teachers to start out. My plan is France 2014-2015, South Korea 2015-2016, and maybe Cambodia 2016-2017. Still, I am praying that the RIGHT opportunities come to me at the RIGHT time. Here’s hoping!

Whistle While You Work

It’s possible that lesson plans will be the bane of my existence…for another week or so at least. I have been procrastinating writing them for my online course because they are somehow so…yech. I’m not used to writing out my lessons to such a degree, but it must be done! I just need a motivational reminder of the end goal:

I want to see incredible things in this world, and meet fascinating people, and feel a little homesick several time zones away when something reminds me of my mom and dad. I want to teach overseas somewhere, anywhere, everywhere! France, Cambodia, Korea, Oman, anywhere!

With my full-time work, French classes, private teaching, orchestra rehearsals, and all, I need to keep a clear head and stay on track so I can finish this course and get my passport in time to fill out my application as soon as I can. I want to feel genuinely fulfilled and excited about living out tomorrow. I want to die happy knowing I did great things. My curiosity will have to search out new things since I will now be able to check a few of those items off my life’s To Do List.

 

And just like that:

Motivation mode: activated

It’s a Process

I didn’t make MUCH progress over the Summer. It is the busiest time of the year at my work. I was not, however, without some success.

I researched a few more online TEFL certification programs, completed a Basic Teacher Training for a Community English Class, and, perhaps most importantly, after 22 years of living in this great country, I became a United States citizen! Little by little I am approaching my goal.

Of all the online programs I read about, the one that stands out to me the most is TEFLOnline.com. They also provide lifetime job placement assistance, but they are a heckuva lot cheaper than the International TEFL Academy. I suspect the reason for this is that they do not provide any practicum opportunities. Still, I am impressed with their ACCET accreditation (Accrediting Council of Continuing Education and Training) and the fact they are associated with Cambridge University. I am planning on starting their 120-hour course in the next couple of days. They are worth a look.

teflonline

http://www.teflonline.com/

Recently I  attended a weekend training for volunteers involved in a Community English Class at a local church. The training was offered by the North American Mission Board, hosted by the Florida Baptist Convention, and covered basic training for teachers of English language learners. I had a great time learning different techniques for teaching vocabulary, types of activities to encourage conversation, games to inspire critical thinking, and essential steps in lesson planning. Overall, a very great introduction for me to the world of teaching English.

Once I complete my online course, not only will I feel more confident in my eligibility for the TAPIF, but I will also have access to job postings world-wide to jumpstart my new career. Now that I am a US citizen, I believe the visa and hiring processes will be a bit easier. (I hope!) One way or another, I am going after this dream!

Decisions, Decisions

OK. You know you want to teach English in another country. Now what?

You may have narrowed it down to which countries you’re interested in, but how do you GET there? I’ve been researching a few different organizations and programs that offer opportunities to either apply, go, and teach or give you a TEFL certification and help you find a job. I haven’t necessarily narrowed it down myself just yet, so I will have to make some calls, do a bit of reading, and try to make things clearer for all of us.

I have a particular interest in France since I’ve studied French since the eighth grade and spent a semester abroad in college. Some of my first internet rovings uncovered a great program through the French government called the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF). Upon acceptance, assistants are assigned a region and one or more schools to assist. You would not be the main teacher, just an assistant, though I’ve read several blogs that say how much preparation you will do really depends on the class and the teacher. There is also a limited amount of time you’d be teaching: approximately 12 hours per week!

This program, though, requires a minimum of a B1 level proficiency in French, which should be fine for me if I just brush up my skills a little. It has been about 4 years since I’ve really spent time speaking it. Applications for the 2014-2015 school year will be available in October.

http://highereducation.frencheducation.org/teach-in-france

Should I not be accepted to the program, my other option would be to get a TEFL certification and find my own job in any country that wants me. I’ve read most about the International TEFL Academy, and I have to say, the thing I like most about them is that they provide lifetime job search guidance. They even provide a nice Country Comparison Chart which lists many useful bits of information like approximate salary, chance of making a profit, peak hiring season, estimated startup costs, and more.

http://www.internationalteflacademy.com/

I will have to research more before I make a decision, and I would like to know more about other schools as well.

So, until next time!