Clotilde Riffault: "The DPAFP taught me that there are a thousand ways to engage students outside of the textbook"
After working in communications for a long time, Clotilde Riffault sought to reconcile her taste for human relationships and her thirst for cultural discovery. For her, the royal road would be that of the Professional Diploma of the Alliance Française de Paris (DPAFP) in French as a Foreign Language. Here is the story of a successful professional retraining.
In the background, a man starts chanting the first notes of a popular song. Clotilde interrupts her story with a laugh: in Medellín, the morning begins with a song. A snapshot of a simple life, which sums up the state of mind of the young professional who left Paris in January 2021 for her new life as a French teacher in Medellín (Colombia).
"After working for 7 years in communications, with Parisian agencies, I decided it was time for a change. I was looking for more human contact in my job, more involvement on my part, but with a certain amount of freedom. To be honest, I had never thought about teaching. But I happened to take Spanish classes, and I thought that what my teacher was doing was pretty good. Teaching adults for their professional needs, exchanging through life stories... The idea started to catch on. "
The DPAFP, a real token of trust
This idea even has a name: French as a foreign language teacher. Or FLE, in French, for short. With that in mind, Clotilde Riffault began her search for the right training. "Online training did not suit me. I thought that for a teacher's job, it was a little too abstract. I really needed concrete feedback, practical experience, and when I looked a little further, I discovered the Professional Diploma of the Alliance Française de Paris (DPAFP), which combined theory and practice. For me, it was ideal’’.
In the fall of 2019, Clotilde started this intense training, determined to change her life. Immediately, she felt she was is the right place. "We were a small group of 17 people, we got along well, and the training was really complete, just like I expected. All the speakers were very available to us, dedicated, the pedagogy was taught in a very interesting way. There were a lot of practical cases, examples, you could ask all the questions you wanted, you were not just facing a textbook. The speakers all had anecdotes from their own experience, in addition to the courses they were giving us. And to me, this feedback is also what makes all the difference’’.
Grammar, phonetics, evaluation techniques and teachers' secrets, Clotilde learned it all and five months later, she left the Alliance Française with a diploma and real confidence in her knowledge. "At the end of the course, I quickly found a job with an association that teaches French as a foreign language, and I was also able to offer my services to a company that provides online language courses. These first experiences reassured me, and I started looking for a job abroad, which was my goal. In the end, it happened quite quickly, and I think the fact that I have the DPAFP was really a selling point".
The Swiss army knife of FLE training
This explains how she found herself working for the Alliance Française in Medellín, with about 30 hours of classes per week. "I have groups of all levels. Young students whose goal is to continue their studies in France, architects who are planning to work in France, engineering professors who are considering an exchange with a French faculty, or older people who simply have an interest in French. I also give private lessons to some executives or engineers from Renault, which has a large production unit here, or to a lecturer. And faced with so much diversity, I see every day the benefits of my training compared to other colleagues who are sometimes a little lost in front of the students, once the leave the confort of the textbook. Having seen firsthand teachers at work is a real opportunity and if there is one thing my training has taught me, it is that there are a thousand ways to interest students, besides the manual! ".
A real toolbox, this DPAFP. Which has proven very useful to captivate her audience during virtual classes, for example. "It is quite possible to create a link even through screens, to set up activities, to transmit. Once again, it's a matter of adapting’’.
Well, in the end, it would seem that Clotilde was destined to teach French as a foreign language. ‘’True, I'm totally satisfied to have chosen this path. I love this job, I love interacting with students and above all, I love learning from them as much as I teach them’’.
La prochaine session de formation DPAFP-FLE se déroulera du 24/10/22 au 31/03/23. La date limite d'inscription au test d'entrée est le 19/08/22.