Recent alumnae of Bryn Mawr College are widely represented in post baccalaureate teaching opportunities around the world beyond those accepted for Fulbright Grants. Four French majors who graduated in the spring of 2020 earned teaching positions in France through TAPIF: The Teaching Assistant Program in France. TAPIF offers the opportunity to work in France for seven months teaching English to French students of all ages. The American contingent makes up a cohort of the larger Programme d'échange d'assistants de langue vivante, a program of France Éducation internationale under the Ministry of Education.
Three of the four BMC graduates accepted the position. Beckie Bull '20 (A.B./M.A.) is posted at a secondary school in Cannes on the French Riviera. Maureen McGrath '20 (working on her M.A.) is teaching in a professional lycée in Rennes in Brittany. Lucia Legnini '20 is working in a creative collège outside of Paris. Gabby Sugarman '20 also received a position with TAPIF in Strasbourg but declined the posting in favor of a position at Baldwin.
It's sometimes hard to get students to participate in my classes, but my main role is to help them feel more confident with speaking English, so I try to find topics that will get them talking! Before break, I answered lots of questions about my life and the U.S. in general, and led a discussion about the American tradition of prom. In classes this week I plan to talk about Halloween and Thanksgiving. My experience so far has been great—I got to meet most of the classes before we went on break, and all the students and teachers I'm working with seem very nice. Now that France has been put into lockdown again, I am very grateful that schools will be able to remain open and I can teach in person! —Beckie Bull '20
If I were to attempt to describe my first month spent working as an English language assistant in Rennes, France, I would say that it has been a whirlwind of collaborative cultural exchange. On a given day, the teachers with whom I work may choose to divide the class in two and allow me to prepare a short lesson to supplement their broader curriculum, or they may ask me to listen to students’ oral presentations and help them prepare for their exams. There truly is no standard approach taken to my intervention in the classroom; this being said, the position requires that you be flexible and inventive with your pedagogical approaches. Thus far, the lessons I have prepared have been deeply rooted in the various issues currently shaping life in the U.S.—such as the Black Lives Matter Movement, student-led protests on college campuses, the debate concerning mascots and cultural appropriation, the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice within the context of the election, and the potential abolition of the electoral college. At the heart of the TAPIF program is the goal of fostering language development through cultural exchange; for this reason, there is a significant emphasis placed on tracing links between the issues and developments in both the given home country of the language assistant and in France. It is for this reason that I would describe my experience as having been both a process of teaching and learning. I would highly encourage any students who are considering applying to do so, even if they do not ultimately see themselves as a teacher. While TAPIF does ultimately center around the classroom, the full breadth of the experience you will have extends far beyond your time spent in the school. Additionally, the opportunities that the program can open up to TAPIF alumni are truly numerous and may be able to help those who are uncertain about future education or jobs to gain a bit more clarity. Truly, the chance to live and learn in France in this capacity is unparalleled, and I think that the education afforded to French students at Bryn Mawr and Haverford is precisely the preparation necessary to help language assistants thrive during their time here. —Maureen McGrath '20
Each year, Bryn Mawr students apply for a number of prestigious national scholarships and fellowships, often with great success. These fellowships may provide funding for the last years of undergraduate education, for graduate education both in the United States and abroad, or even for travel and independent research not tied to an academic institution.