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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Language Assistants call Grinnell home

Out of the 89 international faces that newly arrived in Grinnell this semester, five of them are language assistants who help teach the language classes and labs while also taking up to eight credits’ worth of classes. Along with experiencing being both a teacher and a student, most of them live in language houses. Sascha Antschak from Germany and Malik Toudert from France shared their perspectives on the transition to life at Grinnell.

It’s the first time living in the United States for both of them. Antschak is an undergraduate student at Humboldt University in Berlin, and is majoring in American studies.

“I teach four [language] labs four times a week, and one conversation class. I’m basically here to engage the students in the language,” he said. “I help with the readings, prepare exercises and if any of the students at the higher level classes have questions with their papers, I give them advice on the grammar and structure.”

Toudert is pursuing his master’s degree in education at Université Paris X Nanterre. “I teach the French conversation class for 200 level, which is twice a week, and the drill class for 100 level,” he said. “One of the main goals is to make them talk.”

Because Toudert was studying education back in Paris, he applied to be a language assistant in order to gain more teaching experience. “I want to become an English teacher in France,” he said. “I [also] wanted to be immersed in American culture.”

Antschak on the other hand, applied for more personal reasons. “I want to get out of my comfort zone and be more open because I’m introverted and shy,” he said. “[Teaching] is a great way to confront the situation.”

Along with preparing for classes, they also manage to balance it with work from the classes they take. For Toudert, this also provided an opportunity. “I take Beginning Japanese,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in Japanese culture [ever] since I was a kid, but I never had the chance to learn until I came here.”

Most assistants also stay in language houses, and both Antschak and Toudert seem to enjoy living there.

“I have my own room, and the kitchen at the German house is the biggest out of all of the language houses,” Antschak said. “We have coffee hours every  week, and most of the people in the German house are there.”

Toudert cooks with his house. “Twice a month we organize a house dinner,” he said. “Last Sunday I cooked tartiflette, which is bacon and potato baked with cheese on top.”

Aside from being both the teacher and the student, the language assistants want to explore America. “I definitely want to travel,” Antschak said. “I want to visit big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Washington DC.”

Toudert wants to do something similar. “During the winter, I have to attend a conference in Washington [D.C.] which is part of my program, so I want to take advantage of that and travel around the East Coast,” he said.

After this year at Grinnell, both plan to go back to their respective universities and finish their degrees. And after that?

“Just survive,” Antschak said.

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