"I spent ten months in the Paris region for my year abroad, first spending 7 months working as a British Council language assistant in a lycée professionnel in the banlieues and then 3 months as an intern with French film and television website Allociné, working both for the main site and their British branch, at their head office on the Champs-Elysées. For my degree we had to spend 7 months in a French speaking country, but my early experiences convinced me that I wanted to stay for as long as I could, thus why I applied for the internship.
My time as a language assistant was not particularly easy (we had a number of incidences of violence among the students, and several police interventions during the year), but was always interesting and often incredibly rewarding. I learned how to animate students who might not necessarily want to learn English and how to deal with difficulties in everyday teaching. Being faced with a class of disinterested teenagers can be galling, but it does wonders for your confidence! I developed a rapport with many of my students and some of us have remained friends. Working with French people obviously helped with my oral fluency too – staff room gossip might start as an unintelligible chatter, but after a few weeks I was launching in with my own opinions.
At Allociné I often worked in English, but was given good opportunities to practice translation from French as well. I also had the chance to conduct interviews with famous people, which gave me a great start for the career in film journalism which I am currently trying to pursue. Again I was working with a staff composed mostly of French people which helped my oral fluency.
I loved every moment of my year abroad, so much so that after my graduation I returned to Ile-de-France to do a second assistantship, which was equally fun and interesting (though once again not the easiest of jobs).
I am currently working as a lecteur at the Université de Paris (Paris 7 – Diderot), while studying for an MA by Research in French from the University of Nottingham at the same time. I am also working freelance as a film journalist, using both the skills and contacts I gained at Allociné.
This summer I worked at a summer school for French students in England, a job which I gained through my experience as a language assistant. My experiences on the year abroad have opened up new worlds of possibility in my life which I will forever be grateful for. We language students often describe the year abroad as the greatest year of our lives, and this is true in so many ways."