“I heard about TAPIF through UW’s French department, in an email. I knew that I wanted to take a gap year before going to graduate school, and had been enjoying my time as a volunteer at a bilingual elementary school in Northgate, so I applied. I was placed in Charleville-Mezieres, which is a medium-sized town in northeastern France, in the Ardennes. I’m about one hour from Reims, two from Paris, and just minutes away from Belgium. While some people may have been disappointed to not be placed in a big city, I enjoy the small-town feel. Nobody speaks English here, which forces me to use French in all my interactions. I work in two high schools, with the French equivalent of juniors and seniors. I was fortunate enough to receive housing from one of my schools, so I live in their internat, which is very centrally-located. Another assistant, from Australia, is my roommate. One of the highlights of this experience has been meeting the other Anglophone assistants from all over the world. I only work 12 hours a week, which leaves plenty of time for lesson planning, reading, and exploring. I’ve enjoyed seeing my students’ progress, having lots of free time to focus on French, and following the French presidential elections!
“[After graduation], I had the option of joining the Peace Corps, but I chose to continue my studies. I am interested in Master programs in Europe, and ultimately PhD programs in the United States. I am determined to remain proactive in the States in order to maintain my current language level. For me, this entails reading in French every day and keeping in touch with my French friends. In the future, I want to use my French skills when I conduct research.
“Rather than the tangible advantage of being able to communicate to a wider range of people, language majors have many unique skills that prove beneficial in the job market. I believe that language learners are more open-minded when approaching problems, as we have been trained to think about issues in multiple ways. Being able to work in another linguistic and cultural context also shows flexibility, which is very important in today’s fast-paced job environment. Additionally, language learners usually take initiative and are oftentimes self-taught. In an academic context, knowing French increases your access to research resources – you now have access to a plethora of materials not available in English. This has been a main motivation of mine.”