What an immense impression Paris made upon me. It is the most extraordinary place in the world!

~ Charles Dickens ~

Every year, France receives more than 1.2 million Australian tourists, many of whom work a little on their basic French lessons before they go — although a large number of them would have spent many of their school years learning the French language.

If you are one of the thousands of Australians who, each year, learn French in secondary school or university, maybe you are considering becoming a French teacher? What are the job prospects? Where can you teach French?

Today, we're going to explore the different job opportunities for students who are learning French with the view to becoming a teacher following graduation.

Although the focus is on French, much of the information is applicable to students or teachers of any other language or language degree, such as linguists.

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Work as a Foreign Language Teacher

If you graduate with an education or teaching degree, you can obtain a job as a French teacher, teaching students whose first language is English (or another language except for French).

Where can I teach French?
You need to study hard to master French vocabulary and grammar if you want to teach the language | Source: Pixabay - fernandoprado

Students who are not native speakers but are living in France still have to take French lessons but they have the added bonus of language immersion, that is, French language is all around them — each simple conversation or greeting and everything they read, see or hear. Living in France for a long period allows you to learn French as a second language, which is quite different to learning it as a foreign language.

To illustrate this point, think about your time as a secondary school student — what was the difference between your 'English' class and the 'French' class you took? The lessons and content were quite different, weren't they? And, if you, or a student you knew, had 'English as a Second Language' lessons, you would know these are different again.

A teacher who is teaching French as a 'foreign language' has several objectives:

  • help students master and use new vocabulary and grammar structures
  • provide relevant practice opportunities in all the key skills — reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • cater for both conversational and formal language development
  • engage students in the learning process and ignite a passion for France and the French language.

Depending on the level of the students and the course requirements, teachers may also need to help their students with proficiency exam preparation.

Foreign language teachers need all the regular teaching skills, but they also need empathy. Learning a foreign language can be difficult and, as a teacher who was once a student, you need to show you understand their difficulties and can adapt your class to cater for these.

To get a job as a French teacher in the Australian school system, you need a Bachelor of Education degree with a major in French, or an alternative equivalent.

However, teaching French in the Australian school system is not your only option.

Get a Job as a French Language Assistant

If you'd like to see a bit of the world, you can apply for a job teaching French overseas, or as a teaching assistant where you help French teachers with their lessons.

What does a language assistant do?
As a teacher assistant, one of your roles may be to introduce French culture to the students - like teaching them how to play the traditional game of Pétanque (or boules) | Source: Pixabay - S. Hermann & F. Richter

Often, people who apply for a job as a teaching assistant are on their way to becoming teachers in future years (but not always).

If you obtain a job as a language assistant, generally your role is to help the teacher during the lessons. You rarely have to teach a lesson on your own, although you may sometimes work independently with a small group of students.

It is important to realise that most positions of this kind are given to native speakers of French, as your other role will be to help the teacher with their knowledge of France and the French language, including advanced grammar and pronunciation practice. However, if you have a proficiency score equivalent to a native speaker, you should have no difficulty obtaining this role.

There are other restrictions, too, depending on the country you are applying for. These may include age limits, language proficiency level and education background.

Positions are usually for anywhere between a term and a year but can be extended if the school agrees.

Go Overseas to Teach French

If you don't have French native speaker proficiency, there are other opportunities to teach French overseas, including work in language centres, a language school or a primary school where the students learn French as a foreign language.

Check for French lessons Melbourne here on Superprof.

Can you teach French in an overseas primary school?
Working at an overseas primary school where the children learn French as a foreign language can be a rewarding job | Source: Pixabay - dcpl

Different countries provide different job opportunities. In most cases, you'll probably be teaching students who don't speak English either. It's not easy, but also not impossible. You just need to come up with a creative program of lessons, with lots of speaking and conversation practice.

Adults and children alike will respond positively to lessons that are fun, interactive and engaging - regardless of any language barriers.

This is where holding an education degree will come in handy. Some countries will allow you to teach without a degree but having qualifications in teaching and education will probably ensure better pay and conditions. It may also determine where you can apply; if you want to teach French in a formal school setting, an education degree is a must but a casual language school might not require this.

Wherever you end up teaching, even if your French lessons or course are online, it is important to make sure your program allows students (especially children but also adults) the chance to use their speaking and listening skills and get some practice with their new vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar in real-life contexts.

Before you start applying, you may want to brush up on your French speaking and writing skills to give yourself every chance of success.

If you want to learn French there are a number of online courses available.

Offer Private or Small Group French Lessons

Many children and adults prefer to learn French with a private tutor.

Where can a French language tutor work?
A job as a freelance tutor can be hard work but also rewarding. You can choose your own lessons - like colouring in for colour vocabulary practice | Source: Pixabay - Victoria_Borodinova

It's easy to register online as a sole trader to start your business as a tutor.

As a freelance French tutor, you have the freedom to set your fees, determine your schedule and plan a program of lessons that are unique and tailored to each student. You also decide if you teach online or in person, with a single student or with a small group.

What to do: a few pointers

Sole traders pay tax according to what they earn. In Australia, you have to earn over $75,000 in a tax year before you have to register for GST. The online information on the tax office website is clear, or speak to an accountant if you're not sure.

Remember to apply for an ABN. These are free. If you're online and the site you're looking at asks for a fee, it's a scam.

Business expenses are tax-deductible, so keep your receipts for things like advertising costs, travel time (if you're teaching in person), internet and hardware costs (if you're teaching online) and so on. Any online or in-person French courses you do by way of topping up your skills will also be tax-deductible.

If you're looking for good value private lessons, both online and face-to-face, Superprof has a range of people who tutor in French and language teaching methodology. There are three types of private tutor formats:

  • face-to-face
  • online
  • group.

Face-to-face sessions are conducted in person, with one tutor and one student. These tend to be more expensive as the lesson is tailored to the student and the student is given 100% attention by the tutor.

Online tutoring is cheaper than face-to-face because there are no travel expenses or time involved. Again, these lessons can often be tailored to the individual student as usually it is only a single student online with the tutor. However, a group class is also possible online. One of the greatest advantages of online learning is that the student can access a tutor from anywhere in the world, opening your options up.

Group lessons are often the best value in terms of cost as the fees of the tutor are shared between all students. The downside is that you don't get the full attention of the tutor. The upside is that you have other students for conversation practice.

You may wish to consider accessing conversation practice or advanced French tutorials through Superprof for yourself. Or — why not consider getting your own listing on the Superprof online platform and start tutoring in French today?

Check for French classes here on Superprof.

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Kellie

Kellie is an editor, a children's writer, blogger and a teacher. Any remaining time she has is spent on a dragon boat.