"Boy, those French. They have a different word for everything." - Steve Martin
French is one of the most loved and admired languages in the world, which is why it is the second on the list of chosen second languages to learn. As one of the romance languages, it sounds beautiful, but it is also the fifth most widely spoken language on the planet and is widely spoken on the continent of Africa.
After falling in love with the language, many students wonder how to become a French teacher. If you studied French at university level and have begun to consider teaching French as a career, then this article which is full of tips on how to become a French language teacher is for you.
We will look at available opportunities to become a French language teacher, and how moving into a teaching profession is made possible once graduating.
While this article focuses on how to become a French teacher, the same information can be applied to anyone looking to make a career out of teaching a foreign language.
Teaching French as a Foreign Language
As a French language teacher, your job will entail teaching people who don’t speak French as their first language. Many graduates opt to use their French teaching qualification for teaching French to kids which can be so rewarding especially because children absorb information and progress so quickly when it comes to learning anything, including languages.
Bear in mind that second language teaching is different from how someone who is a French native, for instance, would learn it in France. Having said that, one of the best methods for learning a foreign language is to locate yourself in a country where it is spoken and learn by what is called language immersion. In fact, language immersion is a helpful and worthwhile course of action for both students and the second language French language teacher.
French can be taught anywhere and to anyone. As such a widely spoken language it is often taught to refugees and immigrants, which is a very purposeful and noble way to use your French teaching qualification to teach overseas.
A French language teacher has a few main goals and some of these include:
- Teaching French grammar and vocabulary.
- The promotion of French culture in addition to language teaching.
- Teaching French in a way that sets achievable language proficiency and fluency goals.
- Teaching French to kids who need help to improve their grades.
- Assisting advanced students towards attaining their own French teaching qualification.
To achieve all of this, not only will you ideally need a French teaching qualification, but also several other attributes. Teachers, especially second language teachers, need patience and empathy to understand the unique difficulties of each student. You will also need important skills in perception to show you how to adapt to your student in order to adequately assist them. But how do you go about becoming a French teacher?
Becoming a French teacher usually means aiming to have a language degree. In South Africa, there are several places to achieve a BA Degree in French and it is advisable to compare all of these in making the best decision for your location and personal goals for teaching French.
Remember that you can use your French teaching qualification will open doors for travel and your career and enable you to teach anywhere outside of South Africa.
Teach French Abroad as a Language Assistant
One of the most wonderful opportunities available for the young, or old, French language student who is working towards a teaching career is to teach French abroad as a language assistant.
The job of a French language assistant is to help the French language teacher throughout the lesson. Usually, they are not tasked with teaching on their own, however, they are often tasked with teaching French to kids which can be extremely rewarding and fun.
Language assistants usually work for a single semester or for the full school year. In most cases, language assistant jobs are for native French speakers, however, with a suitable qualification to back you up, you could apply for one of around 1400 places for French foreign language students in various places all over the world!
Applications usually begin at the beginning of the year between January and March and to qualify for one of these places you need to be between the ages of 20 and 35, living in France, a French national, and in year two of your degree. It is also required that you have a B1 level qualification in the native language of the country for which you are applying.
Usually, language assistant contracts last for one academic year and can be renewed upon request.
How to Become a French Teacher
When it comes to how to become a French teacher, it can depend on your goals. If you want to teach French abroad, remember that the requirements of each country are unique. In most cases, you will be teaching French to kids or adults who don’t speak your native English.
Much like the requirements for teaching French in South Africa, you will need a French teaching qualification of sorts. Unlike the language assistant role, a fully-fledged French language teacher will come with more responsibility and a better salary.
In your teaching role, in addition to traditional lessons, you may also be required to run workshops that provide extra help for students who need to practice speaking, pronunciation, or working on projects together.
The application process for teaching abroad varies from country to country as do the working conditions and expectations of the teacher’s role. Make sure that you do as much research as possible to make the right choice and avoid calamities that are far from home!
Whether you are teaching French to kids or adults, generally, you will be required to have an undergraduate French language degree and a postgraduate in teaching. Generally, you’ll need an undergraduate degree in the language and a post-graduate degree in teaching. You will need a high level (C2) in French ability too.
If you are qualified to teach other second languages, you may be able to teach more than just French. As a start, use the internet to thoroughly check out the establishments you are applying to work at.
Become a Private Independent French Teacher
Once you have the tools for teaching French to kids or adults, you could always opt to become a private French tutor. You could become an online freelance French teacher with just a few clicks, but you’ll need to register as a sole proprietor.
You could choose to teach in-person from home or at the home of your students, via webcam or in a local language centre. As an independent operator, you get to be in charge of your own schedule and rates.
As a freelance earner, you will only pay tax on what you earn. Good advice would be to set up a meeting with a tax consultant before you begin operating to see how to structure your income and expenses for the best tax advantages.
Finding the Right Help to Teach French as a Foreign Language
If you need extra help with your own French studies, you may want to consider help from a private French tutor. This could be a way to show you exactly what you need to know for teaching French to kids or adults in the future.
On Superprof, in South Africa, there are hundreds of available French tutors who are skilled to offer lessons for every type of ability. In general, private tutorials are available in-person, online, or in groups. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages; the key is to find the one that works best for you.
Group lessons are a lot like your traditional school classes where one tutor teaches multiple students. These tend to be most affordable as the teacher’s cost is essentially covered by the group. As a group of friends, you could even look into hiring a private tutor together.
In-person tutorials involve one student, and one tutor, and given that this tailored, personalised style of teaching where the student is entirely focused upon, is probably the most effective way to learn.
Finally, there are online tutorials that make use of modern technology to teach remotely. To achieve this, all you need is a meeting platform like Google Meet or Zoom, a good internet connection, and a webcam. This too, with fewer expenses for the tutor, can be a cost-effective option for you.