English Careers

I Said What in French?: Teaching English Abroad

Teaching English Abroad-082720

In September of 2016, I took a plane to France, where I would live for seven months. I’m not rich—I had just graduated from college—and my family wasn’t paying for some European adventure. I was teaching English. I do not have a degree in English. I am not certified to teach.

Despite all of this, I was given the chance to teach and explore Europe at the same time.

France has a program set up to take native English speakers and place them as teaching assistants in all of their schools so French children and teenagers learn English from native speakers. This means there are over a thousand Americans each year who are paid by the French government to teach English in their schools.

I was placed in the primary level, meaning I had children aged six to eleven years old to whom I taught English. The youngest classes learned things like colors, animals, and basic greetings. The older spectrum of students learned currency, locations, prepositions, and directions. I brought along paper money and we played games counting money in addition to hundreds of games of Simon Says. I spent the entire month of February teaching the eight- to eleven-year-olds the Cha Cha Slide. We even baked chocolate chip cookies so they could understand how to follow a recipe. Not only was it a blast being able to play games and pass on American culture to the children of France, but the hours were fantastic. I worked twenty hours a week between two schools. During my seven months there, I also had eight weeks of vacation where I was paid the same as if I had been working—two weeks at a time off for big holidays, as the schools shut down for two weeks every six to eight weeks.

I was paid to play games with children. I barely had to work during the week. I had plenty of vacation time to explore France or other parts of Europe. I gained teaching experience. But more than that, I had a year off from having to know what I was going to do with my life. With this, I had something fantastic to put on my resume. It was a year to decide where I wanted to go in the future, and I had fun while doing it.

So, if you are graduating and not sure what you want to do, check out TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France). Applications open in October. Also, note that if you took Spanish, there is a similar program in Spain as well.

Are you a Sigma Tau Delta Alumni member? Consider submitting a blog to WORDY by Nature to share with your fellow Sigma Tau Delta members how you have been using your English degree.


SSchnepper-headSheyanna Schnepper
Alumni Epsilon Chapter, Communications Director
BA in Teaching English as a Second Language and French from Union University
MA in French at the University of Cincinnati
Contact Sheyanna with questions about TAPI


Sigma Tau Delta

Sigma Tau Delta, International English Honor Society, was founded in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University. The Society strives to

  • Confer distinction for high achievement in English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies;
  • Provide, through its local chapters, cultural stimulation on college campuses and promote interest in literature and the English language in surrounding communities;
  • Foster all aspects of the discipline of English, including literature, language, and writing;
  • Promote exemplary character and good fellowship among its members;
  • Exhibit high standards of academic excellence; and
  • Serve society by fostering literacy.

With over 900 active chapters located in the United States and abroad, there are more than 1,000 Faculty Advisors, and approximately 9,000 members inducted annually.

Sigma Tau Delta also recognizes the accomplishments of professional writers who have contributed to the fields of language and literature.

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