So, you applied to work as an assistant in the Teaching Assistant Program in France. Thumbs up to you for being brave and considering conquering the adult world in another country! If you are reading this and you haven’t received news yet of whether or not you have been accepted to TAPIF,
- if it’s before April, just have patience, it’s coming!
- if it is April and you are feeling antsy, just remember that not all assistants will receive their acceptance email at the same time. So, just try your best to take deep breaths and continue having patience!
- if it’s after April and you still haven’t heard any news, I would start contacting someone. All assistants should find out if they were accepted, weren’t accepted, or were placed on the waiting list by now. I would advise emailing the person that is in charge of the TAPIF applicants. When I had applied, it was Natalie Cox. However, I can’t be sure it’s the same person now.
Now, that that’s all sorted, if you have been accepted congratulations! Working as a TAPIF assistant is going to be some of the most difficult and the most amazing 7 or 8 months of your life! If you were put on the waiting list, there’s still hope! Most people that were put on the waiting list when I applied found out if they had a spot either in July or August. So, don’t give up quite yet!
For those whom have been accepted, unfortunately, you will only know whether you were placed in secondary or primary and in which Académie you have been placed. Unfortunately, you have to wait at the very least a month and a half and at the most three months until you find out your placement. So, the best advice I can give you is to just have more patience. Many assistants started receiving their placements as early as the 2nd of June, however, I didn’t receive mine until the beginning of August, 4 days before the day we were supposed to have received them. There were also many in between. So, if you see other assistants that have gotten their placements, don’t assume you will get yours soon after. It really is all over the place. Once you’ve been accepted though, I advise the following:
1. Start doing research on your Académie and on France in general
It’s important to start becoming familiar with where you will be living, even if you don’t know the exact location. You can familiarize yourself with how your schools function in your Académie, helping you to know a little bit more what to expect. I didn’t know much about French schools before I came to work in them. Start learning about the French system: how it works, what sort of subjects the students learn about, how is it different from the school system in your home country, etc. Not only will this help you to adjust more quickly knowing what is to come, but if you are placed in a high school, knowing the differences can help you plan a lesson on what being a student is like in your home country. I did a lesson teaching my students about what it was like to be an American high school student and then had them compare and contrast it with what it’s like in French high schools. They really loved it! They were fascinated to learn about the differences!
Additionally, if you’ve never been to France before or have never lived there, it’s a great time to do some research on what cultural challenges you might expect to have.
2. Start saving money!
Moving to another country is expensive. You have to pay to book flights, possibly a train, for deposit, for rent, for a cell phone plan, possibly a cell phone, opening a bank account, wifi, food, and for traveling your first couple of weeks of vacation because you won’t receive your first salary until the end of October! And even then, that’s only if you get your paperwork for the advanced paycheck in on time. So, start saving every penny you can because you will have to live solely off your savings for at least the first month that you are living in France.
3. Find and update (if needed) all of your documentation!
Do you have a passport? Yes? Great! Find it and make sure that it is valid for at least 6 months after you plan to return from France. Both the American and the French governments require this.
If you don’t have a passport, you need to apply for one right now! You can never be sure how long it will take to receive your passport. It could be one week. It could be up to 8 weeks, so you need to be speedy quick about applying. It’s going to be highly important down the road because you’ll need it just to leave the country and to get your visa for your teaching assistantship.
You’ll need to locate your birth certificate, your vaccination records, and your tax information from the last two years. You will need all of these things for later down the road! Trust me!
4. Consider starting a blog about your travels!
I started this blog here to first share my experiences with my friends and my family back home while I was abroad. Being a writer and loving to share my stories, a blog was the best way that I knew how to communicate to everyone back home about what I was up to. Plus, it’s a great way for you to document your travels to look back on later.
5. Get in touch with other teaching assistants!
Completely lost, confused, stressed, and overwhelmed by all of the things you have to get accomplished to make your dream of teaching in France come true? You’re not alone! There are around 4,000 assistants from all countries who will assist in teaching all sorts of language in mainland France et les DOM-TOMs! If you have a question, either check out some of the other posts I’ll be writing about navigating the logistics of TAPIF or ask another assistant. I’m sure someone will know.
How to go about this? The best way I know of is Facebook. Search for an assistants page. Can’t find one? Create one yourself! I am a part of three in total: one for all assistants, one for assistants a part of my specific Académie, and one for the city in which I was placed. Plus, I’m also in one for fellow assistants interested in travel. So many choices!
So, congratulations on your acceptance! You’re going to have a fantastic time. I wish you good luck as you start your new crazy and exciting adventure!