Foreign Language Assistants (FLA) are native speakers who work as assistant teachers and help or collaborate foreign languages teacher. They work in another country where native language of FLA is a foreign language. This program benefits both, assistants because they have the opportunity to improve their foreign language level while immersion. They learn about habits, food and local expressions. On the other hand, pupils are benefited because they can practice foreign language skill with a native, especially those related with oral skills. Foreign language assistants are not teachers therefore, they work less time, teach small groups especially in secondary schools. And, their tasks are not oriented to evaluate but to motivate students to learn the foreign language through conversation exercises such as role plays or sharing interesting cultural information about their native country. This duration of stay is usually eight to nine months.
Furthermore, language assistants are mostly young hence, they are supposed to bring fresh ideas and energy to the classroom. This aspect allows students to relate with them more freely and boost their confidence. Besides their qualities as creativeness, in most of cases it is necessary to be a language student although in few cases other field students are accepted in the program. It depends on policies of each country.
What exits foreign languages students the most is the possibility of traveling around the world and meet different cultures. When studying a foreign language, the possibility of a scholarship for traveling abroad. As a language assistant you have the opportunity to work in many diverse countries around the world. Possibilities are bigger than you think. You can choose if living in a cosmopolitan hub of a big city or a more authentic charm of a rural town. Imagine that, not living as a tourist but living as a resident for nine months. And, this does not end at the ninth month, then you can move and have another nine-month resident experience.
Nevertheless, this job is amazing but you must take into account you won’t be young forever. It does not mean becoming a language assistant will not help you anymore, actually you can take advantage of it and think about it as the steps to further work abroad. You will have the opportunity to meet important people in education sector or in other areas. If you think about the first option, after finishing your assistance, you can apply for a foreign language full-time or part-time job at the same school you were assistant or look for other options at the same place you lived. But, if option two is more attractive for you, as long as you work as assistant, you can to gain experience in sectors that you want to work with as well as improving your language level. Remember this work is not a full-time work, therefore you can have another job (check before if the program you are working with allows you to do it) in the sector you prefer.
Finally, this experience will make you become more culturally aware. Since you must adapt yourself, habits to a new way of life, you learn more about you and appreciate more your culture. You will surprise to how different is a culture from other. If your assistance is done in Europe, you will have the possibility to travel to the more than 20 countries of the European Union and there, you will compare cultures as well as foods. Sense of humor, popular beliefs, customs and traditions that are normal will surprise you in a way you have never imagine. As resident, you will experience the city or town in a way tourists don’t do it. Tasting local food that only residents eat, talking about subjects with local expressions as residents do, this kind of knowledge you can only acquire it living as residents, nor books neither universities teach you about it.
If you are interested in this program, check the following list about the role of Language Assistants:
- encouraging students to participate in oral communication activities;
- preparing classroom activities that focus on learning about language and culture;
- leading small groups of two to 10 students;
- motivating students to learn the foreign language (your native language);
- encouraging students to appreciate and explore your culture and their own in a respectful and creative way through language;
- participating in evening and weekend cultural activities;
- meeting with school staff upon request.
Do you fit on this profile? If the answer is affirmative, check the website of the country or embassy you want to work in. Do not miss this opportunity to improve your language level while interacting with other culture and the best part of all, traveling around the target country and its neighbors’ countries if possible.