When I first lived in Nederland, CO, in the mid 80’, a former John Hopkins Institute professor told me that I should become a French teacher.
At the time, I was still not sure of what I should do after receiving an A.A. in Marketing Management in France where I lived for a long time being a French native and thereafter being involved in the entertainment industry in southern California for several years. I gave it some thought and made up my mind almost instantly: I am going back to school.
It is then with plenty of enthusiasm that I decided to acquire a B.A. in French literature at CU Boulder, CO. I still did not quite know that I would become a French teacher, but when I got my degree from the university, I was offered a job assignment as a teaching assistant at CU Boulder: it is then that it finally clicked in my mind that teaching French would be my true career. I knew that because I was so proud to be already offered my first teaching assignment while tutoring clients on a private basis outside the university.
At the time, I also applied to graduate school at UCLA and I was then offered a teaching assignment as a teaching assistant as well. I made the choice to go to UCLA instead.
Everything I know about teaching came from my years as a graduate student at UCLA learning about the technique of teaching, how to make a personal impact with students when you daily interact with them, proving to them that being at least bilingual will always make you stand out from the crowd, and following my supervisor’s guidelines. I, of course, always add my personal touch as a French person also: my humor, my jokes and sharing many facts of French culture that you don’t always find in books. I followed this philosophy of teaching with my tutoring sessions in Los Angeles with private clients going to their homes or students coming to my home, too.
My first full-time teaching position was at Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, CA where I taught French and Spanish for 2 years. Thereafter and since the mid 90’, I have been teaching in community colleges in San Diego County.
When I from time to time read my students' evaluations about my style of teaching and my knowledge of the language, I know deep in my heart and realize as well, that what truly shines about me is my personality: always lively, full of energy, smiling, in a good mood and sharing what I know so well about the language. This approach has always been my way of thinking for onsite classes or while tutoring.
On an academic viewpoint, I always find new ideas to teach grammar and vocabulary thanks to different types of text materials and online sources about what could interest students, who never approached foreign languages before: for example and among other things, I create an interactive French blog to let my students know about the culture, they create a website in the target language, I set up correspondence with a French school to exchange pen pals’ letters, I ask them to write a book in French, we make field trips to locations where French people live, and I invite French guests in class so they are able to hear different types of French accents. All of this comes on top of the regular homework via the required textbook.
Above all, I ask a lot from my students: I want them to go beyond their textbook and I invite them to do so by working hard together by not missing a day of work unless it is absolutely necessary: they or their parents pay their dues for them to study in schools so they have to be in the classroom with me. That is a necessity according to me.
I just don’t teach French grammar and vocabulary, but I especially tell my students to have a positive attitude in life, to work hard to become successful, to expand their horizons, to see what’s out there and by willing to share their own culture with others living in foreign countries.
There is so much to see, understand and explore as an individual in this world. That is the primary work of a good teacher: to shape the lives of future strong individuals.
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