1. Play up ANY and ALL teaching experience, tutoring, work with kids you have done.
Have several years of teaching experience under your belt? Great! Have a degree in education? Awesome! Don’t have any teaching experience at all? Don’t worry!!
Teaching experience is not a requirement to be selected for TAPIF, however it is an added bonus. If you do have any sort of teaching experience, even student teaching or tutoring, make sure to include that in your application. Under the same section of the application (F2) you can also list any other relevant experience. Did you work at an after school program? Were you ever a camp counselor? Did you ever work as a babysitter or a nanny? Any of this experience is a plus, and will definitely be considered.
2. Apply to less sought-after Académies.
If you choose the Paris Académie, you will actually be considered for three Académies in total: Paris, Versailles and Créteil. This is because of the high population density in the area and the high number of applicants that want to work there. So know that if you choose “Paris,” you may not actually be placed in Paris proper.
Go for something off the beaten path. Selecting Académies like Clermont-Ferrand, Rouen, or Poitiers will mean that you are competing against less people for those spots.
You can also indicate on the application on section C5 that you are willing to work in a ZEP, a “Zone d’éducation prioritaire,” or a disadvantaged area. This may also help your chances of getting selected, but is not a requirement.
3. Work on your French beforehand.
Being fluent in French is not a requirement to take part in the program, but it is essential that you at least be able to communicate. You will have to deal with lots of school administration, other teachers and even with students when outside of class. Outside of your school you may be dealing with a landlord, the immigration process, even errands like grocery shopping, all of which become significantly easier if you have a good level of French.
There are two ways in which your French is evaluated on the application. First is through the Statement of Purpose. The second is through the language evaluation.
There are two ways to get your language evaluation:
1) Through a letter from a university professor or an Alliance Française teacher attesting to your French language skills, or
2) Scores from standardized exams like the TEF, TCF, DELF, or DALF.
If it’s been a little while since you’ve taken French, pick up some self-study books, download an app like Duolingo, watch some movies in French, and even try to find French conversation groups in your area. If you can, take some language classes!
4. Take some time into your Statement of Purpose.
There are two points to the Statement of Purpose:
1) to evaluate your French, and
2) to evaluate your motivations for doing the program.
The application instructions specifically state to NOT have anyone else read or correct your French. The selection committee wants to see your actual level of French, meaning you do not need to submit something that sounds like it was written by a native French speaker. Instead you should take your time to edit, correct and even go through several drafts, without having someone edit your essay, so that you can confidently submit something that is well written, but still sounds like you.
Your motivations for the program are equally important. The main purpose of a TAPIF assistant is to teach. Assistants are expected to bring an aspect of their home country to the classroom and to educate French schoolchildren. Take some time to really consider your reasons for wanting to do the program. It’s okay if you don’t want to be a teacher after TAPIF, but are you interested in cultural exchange? Are you interested in taking some time to teach others about your country and your region? Are you looking for a unique experience and see language as a way to connect with others? Were you inspired by a past teacher? Were you taught by a language assistant yourself?
5. Play up any international traveling you have done.
An essential quality to a language assistant is adaptability and willingness to try new things. If you’ve ever traveled or lived abroad for more than one month then include this in section F3. This includes any study, work, or tourist travel that you’ve done.
Did you ever go visit a friend or family outside of the US? Are you from a military family that was ever stationed abroad? Even if you were young when you had these experiences, don’t hesitate to list them. If anything it’ll just show the committee that you want to pick up the same pace of life that you had when you were younger!