Saturday, February 8, 2014

Teaching English in Paris

I am currently teaching a few English lessons in Paris each week in order to make some extra cash and to gain some experience in teaching English as a foreign language.  So far, it has gone really well and has been interesting to say the least.

After I posted ads on the internet, the response was overwhelming!  I had no idea that so many people out there were looking to learn English especially since most people learn English in school here.

So I had my first English lesson which was a disaster.  Our plan was to meet at Ivry sur Seine at 8pm and to find a cafe where we could do the lesson.  First, I went to Issy val de Seine, a metro stop on the completely opposite side of the city.  Then after speaking with the student, I hopped on the RER to go to the correct stop (I had to buy a more expensive ticket for this by the way) not realizing that I had gotten on an express train to the suburbs of Paris.  As I saw my station pass me by, I started to panic.  What was going on? Where am I going?  I was already slightly uncomfortable meeting a complete stranger on the edge of Paris, at night, but my current situation completely elevated my anxiety.  I comforted myself by making a simple plan of getting off at the next stop and taking a train in the opposite direction.  However, we sped past the next stop... and the one after that... and three more after that.

At this point, I had lost all hope and thought I had entered the first circle of hell when the train finally came to a stop at Juvisy.  I made my way to the platform which would take me in the opposite direction.  For those of you who are not familiar with the RER in Paris, at night, it's not exactly the safest mode of transportation in the world.  I was forced to put on my big girl face and at least attempt to hide the fact that I was completely lost and that the only person who knew my location was a stranger who for all I knew, was planning to kill me, cut me up, and make a stir fry with my body parts

I finally arrived at the correct station, at 9:45 mind you, and met my student.  I found out that the only words he knew in English at this point where "hello" and "goodbye."  I realized that this was going to be difficult considering I have absolutely no experience teaching and that this was my very first lesson.  He then proceeded to take me to his apartment, which was not part of our agreement, claiming that he can't concentrate in noisy places.  This would have been nice to know beforehand, but he seemed like a decent guy, so I wasn't too concerned.

As previously explained, he had no knowledge of English whatsoever, and I think he expected to learn overnight.  The beginners lesson that I had prepared was entirely too difficult for him, and it was a struggle to get through just the vocabulary in an hour.  He continuously claimed that he wanted to work very hard, but he seemed distracted and impatient during the lesson.

After the lesson was over, he walked me to the train, and claimed that 20 Euro an hour was too expensive for him.  He asked me if I could give him a two hour lesson for the same price instead.  I actually heard myself say "yeah of course, no problem!" So I had just agreed to work for half the amount we had originally agreed upon for the student who would be the most difficult to teach. What an idiot.  This is probably why I didn't make it through a semester of business school.

So that's the story of my first English lesson.  I now have about four regular students whose lessons have been much more enjoyable than my first.  It's great because I actually have the opportunity to practice my French, especially with the beginners, and I am able to save for trips to other parts of Europe.