The Third Language

English is the default language a European quickly resorts to when speaking with someone who doesn't share his or her first language. Living in Europe and working in ESL, this has enabled me to become fluent in my "third language." The third language is what I call the version of someone's first language that is simplified for use with less-advanced, non-native speakers. It's... Continue Reading →


A lectrice…what is that?

The best English translation of my French job title is "adjunct professor," which seems slightly too fancy, considering my lack of advanced degree. Based on what I hear from other lecteurs and lectrices, the position varies somewhat from university to university but, in a coquille de noix, I'm a teaching member of the English department at a... Continue Reading →

Quick Lesson Ideas for Desperate Teaching Assistants (and Other ESL Teachers, Too)

"So... what does the curriculum look like?" "I'm not really in charge of English." "Oh. Who is?" "Well, you." This was the gist of the conversation I had on my first day of work at one of the French elementary schools I taught at. I know an assistant who once arrived at her school to find that no one was... Continue Reading →

11 TAPIF Must-Dos

If you've decided to embark on the Teaching Assistant Program in France, chances are you already have the travel bug and an interest in deeply discovering a foreign place instead of skimming its surface like the average tourist. There are lots of ways to take advantage of your resident expatriate status while living abroad and to do... Continue Reading →

TAPIF Packing List

Packing for TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) is no easy task. You're moving to a foreign country, but only for about half a year. How do you minimize cost, maximize efficiency, and still make sure you don't feel like you're living out of a suitcase? It's hard to predict what you'll regret leaving behind, but... Continue Reading →

TAPIF Invasion: 10 Ways to Frappe the Ground Running

It's that time of year: young anglophones lugging bulging suitcases suddenly appear in airports and train stations all over France, many of them employing a version of the local language that exists only in textbooks (and some of them, if we're being honest, speaking what can only generously be called franglais). The TAPIF invasion has begun!... Continue Reading →

Parlez-vous Netflix?

I've found the landscape for language-learning to be pretty bleak beyond intermediate levels– even dynamic apps like Duolingo seem to exist in a pedagogical vacuum, lacking personality, real-world application, and the joy of discovery that comes with more organic exploration of a language. Considering the fuzzy, fluctuating borders of a language, it's easy to see how content gets... Continue Reading →

How I Ran Away to France, the Third Time

After I participated in the Teaching Assistantship Program in France for the second time, I didn't want to leave Europe. I loved working and living there, and decided that if I could get another job offer abroad I would take it. The only position I could target that I felt fit my experience and French language level (in which... Continue Reading →

Fatal Phonemes and Emphasis Disasters

The ability to imitate an accent without making mistakes is rare, even among people who are paid boatloads of money to do it. Only a near-superhuman can avoid falling into sticky phoneme and stress traps unique to their linguistic background. For some language-nerd schadenfreude, here are a few recent endearing slip-ups I've come across while trashy tv-watching (mostly native Anglophones trying to... Continue Reading →

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