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Assistantships - Caitlin Shrock ('09) Johnson

French and Sociology

Nantes in 2007

After studying abroad in Nantes in 2007, I was hopeful of finding another way to return to France someday. I graduated from Hope in 2009, got married, then went on to get a Master of Arts degree in TESOL from Cornerstone University. Once my husband, Nathan Johnson ('09), finished his studies at Western Theological Seminary, it was the perfect time to spend a year abroad. I was accepted into the Teaching Assistant Program in France (www.tapif.org), and my husband was accepted at a French Reformed seminary for a year of study. Fortunately, I was placed at two schools in Montpellier, the same location as my husband's seminary (www.ipth align="justify"eologie.fr).

For my job, which is an eight-month commitment, I work 12 hours per week in two French high schools. I teach conversation skills to small groups of students, give presentations about American culture, and help the English teachers prepare lesson materials, recordings, etc. This has been a valuable experience, as I have learned much about handling a classroom while also observing other English teachers' styles. My students and I had a lot of fun holding an American-style mock election in November, singing carols at Christmas, and playing many conversation games.

Nathan arrived in France after taking one Hope French class and studying on his own last summer. All of his seminary classes here are in French, so he has had to learn the language rather quickly! He is getting a head start for next year when he will begin a PhD program in New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, for which French is a requirement.

My French skills have also greatly improved. The teachers I work with make an effort to speak French with me; we've made many friends through my husband's seminary; and we've learned a lot about the logistics of living in a foreign country. We've also had a lot of vacation days to travel around Europe. Overall, this year has been wonderfully formative for both of us and an experience that we will continue to look back on with gratitude for many years!