I did it! After much indecision and procrastination, I have submitted my application for TAPIF. If you are unfamiliar with the program, it allows native speakers to spend a school year in France as an English teaching assistant. I first heard about this program as an undergraduate but only now, five years later, am I actually in the running for a spot.
If you’re interested, there is more information about the program, eligibility and application here.
Notable pieces required to apply:
- College Transcripts: Simple enough in theory but a pain to order, scan, and upload if you leave it to the last minute.
- Language Evaluation: Can be submitted by a university or Alliance Française professor OR test scores from a standardized French-language exam.
- Recommendation Letter: Should be from a professional or academic reference.
- Personal Statement: In French! With several warnings that you are not allowed to have it corrected by anyone else. Luckily, 500 words is not as long as you think.
- Académie Preferences: Must select your top three regions for placement. Sounds fun right? Well, it would be if there weren’t some caveats. First, you don’t necessarily get placed in the biggest city associated with that académie. You put your preference to be in a big, medium or small city, but there’s no guarantee. Second, you can only pick one from each of the following three groups…
This was probably the most maddening part of the whole application process for me. For the life of me I could not settle on a top choice from Group B. I scoured Reddit and WordPress for recommendations from TAPIF alumni and asked my iTalki tutor for her advice. From what I saw, there are two schools of thought on TAPIF selections that are equally represented in the blogosphere.
Half say that you should prioritize cost of living and competitive selection into your decision process. Places like Paris or Nice are very high in demand and more expensive to live in, thus, it may be better to choose cheaper less competitive cities to ensure you get your first choice. The other half say, “Hey, I got my first choice! Always put down your dream destination first because you never know.”
I originally had Lyon, Nice, Aix-Marseille, Bordeaux and Paris all swimming around in my head. Finally I narrowed it down to Bordeaux — and then wouldn’t you know it? When I had everything else in my application saved, something just didn’t feel right about submitting and I made the last minute decision to make Aix-Marseille my first choice.
Really, it came down to this. I didn’t want to wonder “What if?” Where would I be the most excited to receive an acceptance letter from? Bordeaux came highly recommended by my French tutor and the TAPIF community alike. It is probably much less touristy than the Aix-Marseille region and perhaps less expensive, but for whatever reason I am totally happy with my decision. The full top three were…
Top Choice: Aix-Marseille (pretty sure this blog post was the final kicker)
Second Choice: Toulouse (recommended over Montpellier by my tutor)
Third Choice: Clermont-Ferrand (the most Southern of Group A)
Now only time will tell! Acceptance letters are sent out in April. I’ll be continuing my French studies until then and would love to hear from others applying to TAPIF. What are your top académies? Comment below!
Until next time, bonne chance à vous tous!