Unexpected Joys… of Teaching Abroad

My entire life I’ve known that I was NOT destined to be a teacher. My sister considered going into education when we were picking college majors, but the thought never even crossed my mind. Therefore, when I decided to do an internship in a French high school while living in Strasbourg, I was very hesitant. I was exceptionally nervous as I entered the school. I was surprised to find just how much older I felt, just 2 years out of high school myself. My eyes must have been wide with horror as I dodged yelling students that had no shyness about shoving into each other. I also felt quite invisible, suffering from poor French and a significantly shorter stature than the average student.

But I reached the classroom where I was slated to be an assistant and I was welcomed with open arms. The teacher I was assigned to was excited to have me and “an American perspective” and as soon as the students were allowed to ask me questions, they were very inquisitive. From that great start, going to the school has only gotten better. I became re-adjusted to the noise and maturity level of high schoolers and now I even look forward to greeting their enthusiasm with lessons and explanations of American culture.

At first I did a lot of observing, but after just a few weeks the teacher I was shadowing suggested that I come up with a lesson to teach. The students in that class spoke excellent English…. so I titled my lesson “surviving casual encounters”…. and proceeded to teach them American slang. They wrote down every word I said and offered up their own contrast to French slang, so as I taught, I also learned. The lesson had been so enjoyable for me that I decided to offer outside oral practice for the students and went on to also lead debates for the students during class time.

I was not destined to teach… but it has happened anyway and I’m glad it has. More than ever now it has made me determined to apply to the peace corps and continue spreading english as a second language. Certainly teaching in an under developed country will be a very different experience, but the principle of spreading language remains the same- not to mention the chance to keep expanding my own secondary language skills! I’m glad that I’ve discovered how fulfilling teaching can be and hopefully when my internship ends in a few weeks it will mark the beginning of my opportunities in this area, rather than the end!


2 thoughts on “Unexpected Joys… of Teaching Abroad

  1. Thanks for sharing your story! I always enjoy hearing about people’s experiences in education. I have a friend who is in the Peace Corps in Liberia. He spent a year teaching science, and now he’s training new volunteers. I just interviewed him for my blog, and my post also contains a link to his WordPress blog. Here’s a link to my post if you’re interested!


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