A recent graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has been accepted into a prestigious international teaching program and will spend the next year gaining valuable professional experience teaching in France.
Emily Fendley, a Monticello native, graduated from UA Little Rock in May with a double major in French and anthropology and a minor in nonprofit leadership studies.
After spending her senior year studying abroad at the Université d’Orléans in Orléans, France, Fendley decided to put her new language and cultural skills to work through the Teaching Assistant Program in France.
Each year, more than 1,500 American citizens and permanent residents teach English to French students in elementary and secondary schools across France and the overseas departments of French such as Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion.
“I am looking forward to continuing living in France. I’ve never had an in-classroom experience teaching, but I was a conversation teacher at the university this past year,” she said. “It will be a learning and growing experience for me. I think of this as a challenge I want to step up to.”
Fendley will spend Oct. 1, 2019, to April 30, 2020, teaching in Laval, a town in western France. Her duties will include serving as a resource person in conversation groups, providing small group tutorials, facilitating English-language clubs, and giving talks related to American studies. In return, Fendley will receive a stipend and health insurance, but she’s most excited about the opportunity to learn more about the French language and culture.
“I’m excited to live in the north of France and learn about the region,” she said. “Even though France is smaller than Texas, you wouldn’t know it by how different the regions are.”
Fendley’s love of the French language started in high school while taking a language class in the ninth grade. Her interest rekindled at UA Little Rock and grew into a second major.
“I had to take a foreign language in high school, and the only choices were Spanish and French. I wanted to be different so I took French for one semester,” she said. “At UA Little Rock, I decided to take French again, and I really enjoyed the classes and was picking up the language well. Eventually, the department asked me if I wanted to major in French as well, and the more I learned, the more I enjoyed the language.”
While at UA Little Rock, Fendley was active in student life, serving as president of both the Anthropology Club and the Nonprofit Student Leadership Association. She credits her UA Little Rock professors for giving her invaluable advice and guidance for the future.
“All of my professors were amazing,” she said. “You don’t know how many times I sat in their office and asked them for advice on my future and my degree program.”
Professors like Dr. Zachary Hagins say that Fendley’s success is all down to her hard work and tenacious spirit.
“Emily has taken advantage of the wealth of opportunities available for students studying French at UA Little Rock, and she exemplifies the benefits of language immersion through study abroad,” Hagins said. “The first time I had Emily in class, she had just finished Intermediate French and was still like most students at that level: a bit timid in her speaking abilities. Then, she participated in our five-week, faculty-led Summer Language Program in France.
Upon her return, her language skills had improved, but more importantly, her confidence in speaking French had skyrocketed. Given her summer experience in France, I was not surprised when she decided to return to France for a full academic year, taking advantage of UA Little Rock’s consortium agreement with the Université d’Orléans. The reports we have received from her professors in France reflect what we already knew: Emily is hard-working, dynamic, and very motivated. I am certain that we will continue to hear about great achievements from her in the future!”
As for her future after the completion of the teaching program, Fendley sees many possibilities. She wants to continue to travel and work internationally at nonprofit organizations and go to graduate school.
“Since I studied three different areas at UA Little Rock, there are a lot of different graduate school programs I could go into. Choosing is the hardest part,” Fendley said.
Alumni of the Teaching Assistant Program in France often pursue global careers in education, international business, public health, international policy and development, and arts and culture administration, as well as are regularly recruited by top graduate schools who value language proficiency and intercultural competency, according to the program’s website.