Three McDaniel students offered teaching jobs in France

April 21, 2009

It’s a case of double role reversals for three McDaniel College French majors who will spend the coming school year teaching English in France.

In the fall, seniors Mary Beth Bounds, Laura Descher and Greg Dubicki will go from being students to being teachers, and from learning French on an English-speaking campus to teaching English to French-speaking students.

Martine Motard-Noar, professor of French, said the teaching offers represent “an exceptional recognition” of the three students. She said she knows of no other institution with three accepted applicants whose dossiers were considered strong enough for the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., to forward them to the French Ministry of Education.

“It’s even more remarkable as all three of them are coming from the same institution, which put them at a competitive disadvantage,” Motard-Noar said. “This is certainly a first for McDaniel.”

In addition to paying them a salary, the French government is offering to pay coursework at a nearby university, according to Motard-Noar.

Descher, who has double majors in French and Political Science with a minor in Cross-Cultural Studies, said that studying at McDaniel and taking advantage of its study abroad opportunities have amply prepared her for this adventure by exposing her to a variety of teaching styles.

“The overlap between the three has taught me the importance of putting seemingly mechanical processes like language acquisition into a cultural context to understand them better,” she said. “Everything from French phonetics to translation to cinema has been helpful in a different way.”

Dubicki agreed that his experiences on the Hill have been invaluable.

“The importance that McDaniel puts on having a global perspective has prepared me for this opportunity,” he said. “My French professors have prepared me by giving me the necessary tools to be successful in France.”

Likewise, Bounds credits the French faculty with giving her the confidence that she will be successful in her teaching post.

“Professors of French Dr. Motard-Noar, Dr. (Colette) Henriette, and most recently Dr. (Jacqueline) Couti have all helped me to understand French in its cultural context,” Bounds said. “I will be drawing from their teaching methods to help me recreate the same learning environment for my students.”

Bounds, Descher and Dubicki said they don’t yet have all the details of their contracts, but expect to know more by June. For now, they know they will begin their teaching assignments as English language assistants in October, with contracts spanning from six to nine month. They will teach students who range in age from 11 to 18, and may be assigned to one school or a combination of several schools.

Bounds has been assigned to the Alsace-Lorraine area on the border with Germany. Descher will be in the académie of Grenoble, the school district of the city, which is in the southern Alps region of France, near Lyon. And Dubicki will be in working in Lille, which is on the Belgian boarder in the north of France.

Their duties will include facilitating conversation groups, cultural activities, and some lesson planning. Depending on the exact school and age of the students, they may be developing curriculum while other posts are limited to assisting the English teacher already in place, according to Bounds.

Their primary responsibility will be “to put the language in a cultural context for the students, and to help them improve grammar, pronunciation, and accent,” Descher said. “We do this through normal language lessons or through conversation groups and can use movies, songs, books – whatever will interest the students.”

(from left) Laura Descher, Greg Dubicki and Mary Beth Bounds