Becoming a French Teacher
A French teacher instructs students in French language skills and introduces them to French culture. Language teachers offer instruction to children in a variety of settings, but are most commonly found in middle school and high school settings. These educators plan and deliver lessons, assign and assess practice work and evaluate student progress throughout the school year. Additionally, they are often responsible for students in common areas, such as hallways and lunchrooms. Working with young people who may be unmotivated or unruly can be demanding and tiring, but many find great rewards when they are able to observe the many milestones reached by their students.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and job postings made by employers in August 2015, there are various requirements for this career. A bachelor's degree in French or education is required, unless one is otherwise fluent in French, and some states require a master's degree. State-issued certification or a license is required and a student teaching internship is the minimum required experience. Key skills for a French teacher include English and French literacy and speaking proficiency, strong instructional, organizational and communication skills, basic computer knowledge, and patience. In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median salary for all secondary school teachers is $57,200 per year.
Step 1: Bachelor's Degree
The first step towards becoming a French teacher is earning a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement to apply for state teaching licensure. Future French teachers may select from several majors, such as French, education with a minor in French or French with a minor in education, depending upon the school they choose to attend. Program coursework may include general education courses, in addition to classes on French literature, conversation and composition, French culture, teaching methods in foreign language and working with special needs students. While enrolled in college, a prospective French teacher is required to complete an internship or a supervised work program at an elementary, middle or secondary school, depending on the age of the students they wish to teach.
Here are some success tips:
- Complete a semester or a year abroad. Spending time with native French speakers can help students fine-tune their language skills and become immersed in the culture. Students normally receive academic credit for time spent studying abroad.
- Work as a substitute teacher while attending college. Substitute teaching offers students the opportunity to gain experience in the classroom and develop effective communication and classroom management skills.
Step 2: Teaching Certificate
The second step toward becoming a French teacher is to obtain a teaching certificate. To obtain a teaching certificate or license, an aspiring French teacher has to register with his or her state board of education and complete exams. Such assessments might encompass written and oral expression, listening comprehension, reading and vocabulary, language structures and cultural knowledge. After finishing the educational and examination requirements, aspiring French teachers can apply for teacher certification, which generally entails fingerprinting and background checks. Criteria to remain licensed can differ between states, but may include continuing education coursework. Some states also expect French teachers to earn a post-baccalaureate degree after obtaining licensure.
Here's a success tip: join nationally accredited organizations. Enrolling in certification through a national organization, such as the American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages, exemplifies to employers the dedication a potential candidate has for teaching. These organizations can not only help you stand out from the competition, but also allow for professional development and networking opportunities online, or during their conventions.
Step 3: Master's Degree
In many instances, a teacher's education doesn't stop after he or she gets a job. Some states expect teachers to pursue a master's degree to maintain their certification. In other cases, French teachers choose to enter a master's degree program, even though their states don't require education beyond the bachelor's degree level. Master's degree programs typically take around two years to complete, and French educators typically study French or education. Master's degree programs are often developed for individuals who have earned a bachelor's degree in French, but who are not certified, or for educators certified in another subject who seek a French certification.
The steps toward becoming a French teacher include earning a bachelor's degree, obtaining a teaching certificate or license, and pursuing a master's degree.