Bonjour à tous! As promised, today I will focus on a day in my life as an English Language Assistant or ELA for short. I had mentioned in my very first post that I worked in collèges in 2 small towns called Gaillac and the other being Lisle-sur-Tarn.
The most obvious difference I have noticed between schools in Scotland and France is that the school day in France is typically longer. For example, the collège in Gaillac started at 8am and finished at 5pm! This is attributed to their break system as the students will have, not one but, two 15-minute breaks (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and their lunch breaks last 2 hours from 12pm-2pm. This took a bit of getting used to because, when I was in high school, it was normal to scoff my lunch and still find time to socialise within 45-minutes. Do you think this is a better system? What would you rather have: a long lunch break but a longer school day or a short lunch break but a shorter day?
In terms of my workload, the job was simple and what I did in each class changed from day to day.
- taking small groups of usually 4-5 pupils and having a conversation or playing a game revolving around subject they were studying in that particular class
- making presentations on certain aspects of our culture for example: how we celebrate Christmas, Scottish traditions, cuisine and fashion
- creating audio recordings and videos to be used for pronunciation practice or tests
- general aid in the classroom by correcting their mistakes and answering questions as the students worked on a task
Living in the city of Toulouse is very convenient for me because there is much more accessibility to transport, accommodation and activities to do during my free time but this meant that I would have a longer commute to my schools. I only worked 12 hours a week but it felt much longer as I had to factor in the travel time. For example, if I started work at 9:30am, I would have to wake up at 6am and leave by 7am as the train times weren’t very frequent and the durations would average at around 40-50 mins, in addition to walking from my apartment to the train station and then later from the train station to the school.
Of course, this wasn’t ideal but it wasn’t too inconvenient as I usually only worked 3 hours a day Tuesday-Friday (I’m lucky enough to have a long weekend every week!) and the early start meant that I could still do something with my day after working like going to the médiathèque to study, visiting the parks or the Garonne river, or even going shopping in the city centre. Often times, I would do a little grocery shopping after work. The supermarchés I would go to varied depending on the day it was and what was nearby but I would usually got to Carrefour market, Lidl or, my personal favourite, E.Leclerc. There are also other supermarkets called Casino and Monoprix (which I think of as the French Marks and Spencer) but I find them to be a bit more expensive than the other supermarkets.
Then, I would usually end my day by having dinner in my apartment, making sure to cook enough for my lunch the following day, and then unwinding with some Netflix before getting an early nights sleep in preparation of the next 6am start.
So there we go, a little insight into my life in France. I hope you found this interesting to read and, of course, don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have! Also, thank you very much for your comments on the previous blog post, I’m always happy to hear from you so I really appreciated it 🙂
- Gare – train station
- Médiathèque – multimedia library
- Supermarchés – supermarkets