3 recent SUNY Oswego graduates earn teaching placements in France


June 2, 2017

Three recent SUNY Oswego graduates -- one from May, two from 2016 -- have earned teaching appointments in France through a prestigious international program.

The Teaching Assistant Program in France selected 2017 alumna Serena Schaeber and 2016 graduates Zoe Behncke and Stacey Baran for the competitive French government program that offers paid teaching assistantships in schools. Their yearlong placements start this fall.

"Each student received her first choice of region, which is a credit to the strength of their candidacies," said Susan Bertonneau of Oswego's modern language and literatures faculty. "The students are evaluated on the quality of their French speaking and writing skills, their prior study-abroad experience, and their work as tutors/educators during their undergraduate careers at SUNY Oswego and in summer employment."

Baran will work in the Lyon region, Behncke in the Versailles region and Schaeber in the Rennes region, Bertonneau said, adding all three of them took part in at least one of the Office of International Education and Programs' French study-abroad offerings during college.

"The job of an assistant is to do lessons separate from the actual teacher's, and to focus on modern vocabulary and on improving conversational English," said Schaeber, a dual major in French and history with a linguistics minor. "The teacher is there to teach grammar, but my job will be to get young French students to speak as much English as possible."

Schaeber said she benefited from immersion in the French language by studying abroad in Paris, spending a summer with a French roommate and even babysitting for a French family. "This not only vouches for my French skills, but also that I was willing to push myself out of my comfort zone quite a bit," she said.

"Another thing that's really helped me is the weekly language table every Monday, where foreign language majors go and speak in just that language for an hour" on campus, she added. "Participating in this was not only a huge help with my conversational French, but also has given me firsthand experience dealing with the problems my future students will face in speaking English."

Schaeber also praised Oswego's faculty, including Bertonneau as well as Jean Ann and Bruce Long Peng of the linguistics program and Gwen Kay, director of the college's Honors Program, for providing encouragement inside and outside the classrooms.

 'Incredibly supportive'

Behncke, who will teach in the Academie de Versailles just west of central Paris, said SUNY Oswego prepared her well for this opportunity. "All of Madame Bertonneau's classes were so helpful and covered areas of the language I didn't get to in high school. She is also incredibly supportive and asked me how the application process was going as well as writing my letter of recommendation," Behncke said.

"Oswego also has a really good range of study-abroad programs. I did SUNY at the Sorbonne Summer 2016, which was the best option for me because French was my minor so I didn't miss a whole semester of classes I needed for my major, but I was still able to go abroad," added Behncke, who majored in political science. "After I finish this program I'm hoping to go to grad school for writing."

Alumni of the teaching program "are regularly recruited by top graduate schools preparing the next generation of global professionals," according to the TAPIF website, with its graduates often pursuing "global careers in education, international business, public health, international policy and development, arts and culture administration, among other fields."

For more information on SUNY Oswego's modern languages and literatures program, visit https://www.oswego.edu/modern-languages.

Teaching in France -- Serena Schaeber, a May SUNY Oswego graduate, is one of three recent graduates of the college headed abroad for a year in the Teaching Assistant Program in France. She joins 2016 graduates Zoe Behncke and Stacey Baran in taking part in for this competitive French government program that offers paid teaching assistantships in schools around France.