Teaching Language – Back to Bangalore
Life is full of lessons, but a precious few of our teachers are memorable. However, almost all of us at some time or another, have come across a teacher who stood out from the rest. So what are the qualities of a good teacher? Patience perhaps, combined with a sense of humor. The best teachers however, are deeply passionate about their subjects and most importantly, are not resistant to learning new things.
A professor who possesses all the above qualities is Sameer Thomas. Having just returned from teaching English to students in France (in Reims, Marne, east of France) , he is now a professor at the Alliance Française de Bangalore and has some tips to share with students who hope to go to France.
Do you enjoy teaching?
Yes I do. I taught even before I left for France. But I prefer teaching French as against English.
How is teaching in France different from teaching here?
It is much more rewarding here. Since education is free up to the age of 16 in France, children do not value it, and also don’t take evaluation very well.
What do you like the most about the French education system?
What I like most about the system is that the curriculum is well researched. A lot of creativity has gone into the concepts pertaining to kids. And the teaching material is better than here.
Where in France have you taught?
I have done the Assistanat programme twice. The first year I taught at a lycée. The second year I was in two different colleges and I also taught thrice a week in a primary school.
What age group were your students? And how is the student-teacher rapport in French schools?
Anywhere between 6-16. I have even taught BTS students (Post Bac students) 20-26 years. Students are not very close to the teachers. They are quite distant. They do not feel like opening up especially to teachers. A colleague of mine aged 59 got all along well with a bunch of girls because she gave away some of her old clothes to them. Apart from that, I haven’t seen any close rapports.
What did they like the most about your class?
My students were happy to know about a country first hand. They had a lot of questions about India and whats happening right now. There was a report on Pondicherry on TF1 two months ago. It was about the increasing number of francophones in India, about how Alliance Française is doing well all over India and that lot of Indians are motivated to learn the language. The French were surprised to know that we speak more than one language.
Would you like to go back to France to teach?
Quite honestly, I prefer teaching French here.
Did the courses you completed at the Alliance Française sufficiently prepare you for life and work in France?
There were a few cultural shocks, but I had the ability to conduct a class. There was no problem at all.
What advice do you have for students who would like to go to France?
There are 3 things that I would like to tell them: firstly, my advice to them is to discover local cultures. Meet as many French people as you can and do not mingle only with other Indians. Two, try attending all the cultural activities around you. Be proactive and participate in all school activities. Finally, try all and every kind of food, enjoy the freedom and the independence. And as for teaching English, to be as patient as possible and maybe even more.