French Major Awarded Opportunity to Teach French Abroad

April 12, 2011

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Baylor senior Haley Dermody has earned a spot in the highly competitive "Teaching Assistant Program in France" (TAPIF), sponsored by the French Ministry of Education.

"It's an honor to work for the French Ministry of Education," Dermody said. "It's difficult to work in France without being part of a program like this. The French Ministry of Education is prestigious, so I feel extremely lucky to be working for them."

The selection process, which includes an essay written in French, takes candidates from the United States, Canada, England, Australia, the Caribbean Islands and India. Applicants are expected to be proficient in French and have some experience teaching or working with children, as well as having previously spent some time abroad.

The United States has the largest number of applicants. Each year, more than 1,500 Americans are sponsored by TAPIF to teach in France.

Upon receiving the acceptance email, "I screamed out loud, quickly read the email, and called my parents immediately," she said. "I was so happy, so excited, and my parents are too. It's crazy how I went from four months of having no idea where I'd be living next year, to having everything become clear within five seconds of reading an email."

A native of Carrollton, Texas, Dermody originally decided to attend Baylor for its nursing program.

"I love the school," she said. "Baylor has provided me with so many opportunities. I've studied abroad, I've become involved in a great organization, and the French department is great."

Dermody's interest in French grew as her classes progressed. By her third class, she decided to change her major to French. "The language sounds absolutely beautiful, and I love the culture too. There's so much history behind the language, and French and English share a lot of words," she said.

This past fall, she studied abroad in Caen, France, through Baylor's study abroad exchange program.

"Everywhere was beautiful," she said. "Caen has a lot of World War II history behind it. I also learned a lot about the French school system and the lifestyle in general. They love their coffee, their bread, their cheese, their wine... They are very passionate in general. I really love the lifestyle and I am so thrilled to have the chance to live there again."

This time, Dermody will be living in Lille, France, a city she visited frequently during her first stay. "I've made some friends there already, so that's comforting," she said. "Lille is close to Belgium, so there's an obvious Flemish influence there, and I find it absolutely charming!"

Dermody will be in France for eight months, working 12 hours a week in an elementary, middle or high school as a teacher's assistant.

"I'll be able to expose kids directly to English as a native speaker," she said. "Not many Americans start studying a language until they're in middle school, so I find it really cool that French children have the opportunity to learn from native speakers at such a young age. I feel very grateful to be a part of sharing languages."

For more information on the program, visit http://www.frenchculture.org/spip.php?rubrique424&tout=ok.

by Susie Typher, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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