April 16, 2010
WOOSTER, Ohio - Five seniors from The College of Wooster have been selected to participate in the Teaching Assistant Program in France. Alex Jue (Tours-Orléans), Katharine Tatum (Marseille-Aix), Britta Harman (Nancy-Metz), Lucy Plaugher (Lille), and Maureen Hochman (Nancy-Metz) will spend the coming academic year teaching English in schools throughout France.
The Teaching Assistant Program in France is sponsored by the French Ministry of Education and Cultural Services at the French Embassy. French majors or minors nationwide apply to teach English in elementary or secondary schools throughout France. The selection is based on language proficiency and demonstrated interest in education, but it also favors applicants deemed to possess the skills to promote cultural understanding between France and the United States, according to Carolyn Durham, the Inez K. Gaylord Professor of French at Wooster. "Prior experience studying in a Francophone country is helpful, and all of this year's successful applicants did spend a semester abroad (two in Dakar, one in Nantes, and two in Paris)," she said. "Interestingly, all requested and were assigned to a very different area of France or the Francophone world."
The program has become increasingly popular with Wooster students in recent years, noted Durham, comparing it to the rising popularity of such programs as the Peace Corps and Teach for America, but, she added, "to have five students apply and be accepted into the program in one year is quite remarkable."
In addition to the role students play as cultural ambassadors and in the classroom, where they have full responsibility for conversation classes, this experience of living and working in France guarantees fluency in French by the end of the year. "That is a driving force for many of our students," said Durham.
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