I have just started my placement as an English Language Assistant in the Parisian suburbs. I was struck by how rich a city Paris really is; the architecture of the buildings and the large amount of luxurious monuments, such as the ‘L’Arc de Triomphe’ and ‘Notre Dame’ completely embody the city’s rich reputation. I was also very surprised at how different the suburbs are; in the UK, traditionally, the suburbs are the richest part of a city but here, it is the complete opposite.
The schools that I teach in are located just outside of Paris and are not as wealthy as the ones found in the centre of the city. However, the pupils that I teach are so eager to learn my language. I found this a little different to the UK; I always enjoyed my language lessons at school but I cannot say that I had the same enthusiasm as these pupils.
For my first lesson I brought in some postcards and souvenirs to show my pupils what my hometown is like in the UK. They were so excited by my postcard of my town’s castle and my souvenir of the Welsh dragon. For us in the UK, a postcard of a castle is not necessarily the most exciting thing but, for these pupils it represented real-life magic and mystery. I realised that in their suburb there are no castles or famous monuments, all those things belong in Paris.
One of the teachers told me that despite the fact that these children live four kilometres from Paris, some of them have never been there throughout their entire lives. I represented a chance for them to discover another world.
I never realised, until my placement in France, just how valuable education really is. For these children it represents an opportunity to do something different; it represents hope for their futures and that is priceless.
I was truly inspired by the pupils in my first lessons; their enthusiasm to learn English made me feel very valuable. During my time in France, I really hope that I can inspire these pupils in the same way that they have inspired me. I hope that I can add to their knowledge of English and help encourage their enthusiasm.
How valuable is education to you?