#TeachAbroadBecause … Your life begins when you find your passion

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Amanda is a Master's student from Chicago, studying English as a Foreign Language in France. She began learning French at the age of 13, and fell in love with the language and the culture. Amanda studied in France twice during her undergraduate studies. While she doesn’t have a specific career path in mind, she does know that she wants to work in multiple languages and with people from around the world. 

Now that Amanda is in Europe, she is trying to see as much of it as possible. Amanda believes traveling in Europe is easy, fairly cheap, and life-changing. Amanda is also interested in music. She holds a Bachelor's in Music from the US. “Playing, singing, and sharing music is also an excellent way to experience new cultures," she says.
#TeachAbroadBecause … Your life begins when you find your passion

What motivated your decision to teach abroad? How/why did you choose where to go? 
Travelling on a student budget can be difficult and I’ve always been interested in language exchanges. So finding an opportunity where I could teach and also stay for free was the most ideal for me. My goal was to see lots of small villages in France and to have a deeper experience of the country than just the big cities. 

How did you find your job? What resources did you use? 
I saw a TalkTalkBnb ad on Facebook so I signed up, made a profile, and wrote about the places I’d like to visit. Within days, I had families offering their homes to me for my travels in exchange for English practice. 
#TeachAbroadBecause … Your life begins when you find your passion

What was your experience like? Can you share some favorite memories - and challenges?
I stayed with a family of four, with two young children who were thrilled to say as much as they could to me in English, like “hello!” and “thank you so much!”. It was like being on vacation with my own family. Sightseeing, walks by the sea, and home-cooked meals at the end of the day made me feel like it was also my home. The experience didn’t even feel like teaching, because it was so natural and authentic. There’s just this energy and desire to communicate and connect on a human level. 

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your teaching experience abroad?
I’ve been able to gain a broader perspective and understanding for another culture. Each culture is so vastly different and this experience has made me more mindful of each of our individual backgrounds. 
#TeachAbroadBecause … Your life begins when you find your passion

Any advice for teachers thinking about working overseas? What are some highlights or things that you gained or changed your perspective? 
I have given traditional French classes back in the US; the biggest difference I’ve noticed is that the level of stress is much higher in classrooms. There’s an expectation of performance and “correctness”. With TalkTalkBnb, my students and I were at ease with one another, learning from each other and communicating equally, even if the language level isn’t equal. There’s definitely a difference between learning grammar in a classroom, and applying a language in a real context. Language has direct applications - it’s not separated from real life like it is in the classroom, so i think that makes it more interesting for everyone. 
#TeachAbroadBecause … Your life begins when you find your passion

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?
Between countries that don’t seem starkly different on the surface, like European countries and America, the small details of life are quite different. The systems of government and politics, or the attitudes toward certain ideas and values, are actually quite different. Having this experience has given me a sort of insider perspective to add on top of my cultural identity. 
#TeachAbroadBecause … Your life begins when you find your passion

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
Being worldly is an asset in any career path. This experience has reinforced my want to incorporate language in any aspect of my future because I know how important human connection is and the part that language plays; no matter where you work or what you do. 


#TeachAbroadBecause … Your life begins when you find your passion