Alonie Fields-Choice ’13 of New York City has been accepted into the prestigious Teaching Assistant Program in France, a seven-month assistantship that will have him teaching English to French-speaking students in Dijon. The program is sponsored by the Higher Education Department of the French Embassy in the United States.
Fields-Choice, who graduated cum laude from Rider with dual bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and French in May, will travel to France in late September for the program. There, he will teach English in a number of schools in Dijon, a city of 150,000 in the eastern-central part of the European nation, from October 1 to April 30, 2014. Assistants are assigned 12-hour-per-week teaching schedules that may be divided among as many as three schools.
The teaching assistant may conduct all or part of a class, typically leading conversations in English. Duties may include serving as a resource person in conversation groups, providing small group tutorials, and giving talks related to American studies in English classes, according to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy website.
Though Fields-Choice, who also minored in Italian and studies some German, Russian and Chinese, has shown an uncommon mastery of international languages, he originally enrolled at Rider four years ago as a Business Administration major. It wasn’t long before he fell for the lure of languages, however.
“I have a musical mindset, so I look for patterns and rhythms in languages to learn them,” explained Fields-Choice, whose involvement in music dates to his pre-teen years. “I’ve been writing, making beats, rapping and mixing for about 10 years.”
Dr. Mary Poteau-Tralie, professor of French, said that Fields-Choice has what she called “a gift” for the French language, as well as others.
“His ear is attuned, as he notes, to the cadences and the rhythms of languages, and to correct pronunciation. When I found out that he was taking Spanish and Italian, I wondered if he would have trouble keeping the languages separate in his mind,” said Poteau-Tralie, who has taught French at Rider since 1991. “That was not the case; in fact, I have heard him switch in a single conversation from one language to the other without any apparent hesitation. His accent and grammar structures in all three are correct and near-native.”
Poteau-Tralie also lauded Fields-Choice for venturing beyond the romance languages and taking a course in German, where he also found success. “Lonz was a student who saw the connections between the languages people speak and their cultures,” she said. “He was eager to learn how languages work in cultural context and did quite well in literature, culture and film courses.”
The versatile Rider graduate even tried his hand at modeling, appearing in an online fashion spread for Essence magazine three years ago.
“My mom’s friend tried to get me to be a model, but that’s not me,” he said.
Each year, more than 1,100 American citizens and permanent residents teach in public schools across all regions of metropolitan France and in the overseas departments of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion through the Teaching Assistant Program in France. They gain valuable teaching experience, improve their language skills, and experience French culture firsthand.