So upon starting my job as a student ambassador, I was told that the number one question asked at Open Houses goes something along the lines of: “Am I able to teach French in this program?” and “How do I teach French Immersion?” Believe me, even after I have been accepted into my program, I still find myself, along with many of my peers, asking the same questions and bombarding our practicum coordinators with the logistics.
Before I continue on and explain the nuances of obtaining a French placement, let me first preface this article by saying that each teaching program has a different process, and the MT students will not be following this procedure. Also, as always, this blog post is time sensitive. Just because these are the policies set in place for THIS YEAR of 2018-19, it does not automatically mean that these are the steps to follow in the years to come.
If I were to break down the necessary steps for every MA CSE student it would simply be:
1. Complete an online French Proficiency test.
2. Sign up and take the FSL Part 1 AQ course at OISE (BLENDED).
3. Inform your practicum coordinator. And tada!
Now, these steps obviously take a lot of time and work to complete, so I will spend the rest of the blog giving everyone a detailed summary of everything I have experienced and know (up until now).
The number one tip I have for all French teacher candidates is to get in contact with their practicum coordinators. They will be the ones to best guide you through the process, and to also be that sounding board for any of your questions. Once you get in contact with them, they will tell you to first complete a French proficiency test. Another thing to keep in mind, is that there is a $90 fee associated with this test, and once the test is completed, the test results are valid for three years.
The test is done completely online, and is divided into 3 parts: A & B are written components while part C is an online interview to test your oral abilities.
***Let me just give you all a tip: when the website says to allot 3.5 hours for the parts A & B of the test, they genuinely mean that. When the description of the test says to answer a few question based off of Youtube videos, think 16 short answer questions from your English exam. Now, this isn’t to scare everyone, but I just wanted to put it out there in case anyone was like me, and was hoping to quickly check off some multiple choice questions and finish the test in under an hour. Yeah… not happening.
The good news though, is that the oral interview may not exactly take the full 30 minutes. For me, I think it lasted a total of 10. For this part of the test, the invilgators are not grilling you on the details of the French grammar; rather, they just want to get an overall feel of your French competency. I was also immediately notified of whether or not I passed during the oral interview (which I did, yippee!).
2. THE FSL AQ COURSE
Upon completing the French proficiency test, MA CSE students will then be asked to sign up for the French as a Second Language Part 1 AQ course at OISE. Though this course is also offered multiple times a year (Summer, Fall, and Spring), the timing of when you take your AQ course really matters. If a MA CSE student wants to complete one of their placements in a French classroom, then they must FIRST complete the AQ course BEFORE obtaining those placements. What this basically means is that unless you complete your proficiency test early and finish up your AQ course in the Summer or Fall session, MA CSE students will not be able to get a French placement in their first year.
Now, I know that there are a lot of go-getters out there who are reading this blog post and already pulling out their planners. All I can say is: hold up! I know the natural instinct is to simply power through and complete all these requirements so as to get as many opportunities as possible to do your placements in French. Believe me, I get it. But I cannot stress enough: your existing schedule as a MA CSE student is going to be busy and exhausting enough as it is. As long as you complete the AQ course before the start of 2nd year, you can still complete your 12-week internship in a French classroom. That’s 4 entire months of a francophone experience! It will be okay; it will be more than enough.
3. INFORM YOUR PRACTICUM COORDINATOR
***Another tip that I have is from the 2nd years in my program: joining the weekly French club is helpful in securing those French placements.
Yes, it is essential to tell your practicum coordinator that you have passed all the tests to teach in French, but if you want to convince them on the authenticity of your French abilities, French club is the place to be. Not only do you get to sharpen your French skills, the coordinators actually drop in every so often to see how comfortable you are. So if you are interested in increasing your odds of teaching in a French Immersion classroom, you know where to go! Wink, wink :)