Writing an e-book on making the most of your year as a language assistant was a project that I started last year. I completed a rough outline, let it simmer for a while, and starting picking it up again at the end of 2014.
I had the occasion of working on it for several hours this week and I am committed to publishing it before the summer.
Why writing a book on being a language assistant, you may ask?
First of all, I want to share my experience, from a professional, as well as a personal, point of view. In my time, there was really nothing but a two days meeting of all future volunteers and basic networking to prepare me for the great trip abroad. The job also proved to be a challenge, and I had to learn on my feet. Professional conduct, how a school functions, how to teach my native language, classroom management. These are all things I had to deal with nearly on my own, as there was no support for unqualified teaching assistants. There is only so much that didactic books can teach you about rocking your classroom!
Of course, there are different assistant- or lectorships that are directed at a large range of age groups. Not every year or programme is the same. Yet, I believe that some tips and basic info would help out fellow assistants during their year, as far as time management is concerned, for example. What to do on arrival, when to evaluate your plans for the next year, should you take classes or CPD to make sure not to miss out on opportunities at the end of your contract?
As a caring person, I am also centered on the human side of it. Culture shock comes in waves and most people do not recognize its diagnostic signs. Whereas some may embrace the newfound freedom of otherness, others could bear the change of climate, food, language and social circle less positively. It is important to learn how to prosper in a foreign environment. Think about how the language barrier would affect you in a workplace in which you need to be assertive, for example. You may even not know a single word of the language of the country you are now living in!
As a side project, I am also considering interviewing former assistants to give out a broader range of experiences on the topic.
I’ll keep you posted on this book project. It’s starting to take shape and it’s really exciting.