The Franco-Irish language assistant programme is 50 years old, let’s celebrate! [fr]
This year we celebrate the 50 years of the language assistant programme!
With more than 2500 Irish assistants who came to France since the launching of the programme and also more than 2500 French assistants who came to Ireland, it is with a certain pride to see the enthusiasm around this programme!
What is a language assistant?
We tend to forget it but it is one of the oldest exchange programmes for European students. Indeed the first agreement was drafted between France, Great Britain and Germany (then Prussia) in 1905.
Today 60 countries are partners but the main goal has not changed: young students going to a partner country to assist a teacher of their mother tongue.
The main goal of the programme is to increase the students’ mobility and to allow participants to improve their linguistic and cultural knowledge, and at the same time to develop their professional skills through teaching their own language.
A language assistant’s role:
The role of the language assistant is to assist the language teachers by bringing an authentic language source into the classroom. As a representative of her/his language and culture, the assistant contributes to the development of the school’s international awareness.
The advantages of a year as a language assistant abroad are diverse. This experience allows students to discover a new country with its culture and its language. Living abroad enhances self-confidence. An exchange programme will provide the soft skills like adaptability and proactivity amongst others that are crucial for future jobs. The gap year is an invaluable opportunity to be more open-minded, to confront one’s professional orientation, to live great moments with pupils and teachers or to simply develop its language skills by working 12 hours a week. The language assistants are encouraged to participate in cultural activities such as choir, visits to museums and also in sport activities such as tournaments that can be provided by some schools. It is also a great professional asset to add to a CV. What remain at the end of the year are fond memories of unforgettable encounters for all the language assistants all around the world.
In 1968, France and Ireland drafted cooperative agreements to ratify the beginning of the language assistant programme between these two countries. The first assistants arrived in October 1969. This programme gathers several partners including the French Embassy in Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills and the CIEP.
Let’s discover through a series of portraits the experience of some former Irish assistants in France and what they’ve become!
- Let’s discover John Devlin’s experience as a language assistant in Paris!
- Harry Vaughan speaks about the life in the Reunion Island as an English assistant!
- An interwoven cameo of two former language assistants Aoife and Paul who are respectively a French teacher and a principal in the same school!
- Deirdre Whyte, a former Irish assistant tells us more about her experience in Bordeaux!