French Teacher: Job Description & Requirements

Several employers hire French teachers to instruct others on how to speak the language of love. This article includes information on the education and job skills required, salary information, and employment outlook statistics. You'll also find descriptions of other careers related to French instruction.

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Career Defined for French Teachers

French teachers are most commonly employed by middle schools, high schools, and universities, which cater to the traditional student. Online French programs are popular with adults and those who want to brush up on their French in preparation for travel abroad. French language teachers employ a multi-pronged sensory approach that uses textbooks, audio, multimedia, and conversation, which facilitates quicker proficiency.

Education Bachelor's or graduate degree in French or education and proper certification
Job Duties Employ textbooks, audio, multimedia, and conversation to teach French
Median Salary (2015) $61,380 (foreign language postsecondary teachers) or $57,200 (all high school teachers)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 11% (foreign language postsecondary teachers) or 6% (all high school teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

French teachers must demonstrate a fluency in the French language and a proficiency for teaching. Those planning to teach in a traditional setting must have a bachelor's degree either in education or French and satisfy all teaching certification requirements.

In addition to their French courses, students pursuing a bachelor's degree take pedagogy, the science of teaching, and typically pursue a minor in a second related language such as Spanish or Italian. In most cases, they are required to spend at least one semester abroad and pass an oral French proficiency test before beginning student teaching, according to Indiana University.

Those seeking to teach in postsecondary schools must obtain a graduate degree to be considered. Non-traditional employers outside of the public and private school system may have less stringent certification requirements.

Job Skills Required

First-rate French teachers understand the difficulty of language acquisition and display a love of teaching and a passion for the language that serves to motivate and encourage students. Language teachers must be rabid Francophiles with a strong knowledge of French culture and history. According to Kenyon College, approximately 45% of the English vocabulary is derived from French, so a good sense of English grammar and vocabulary is also helpful.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that job opportunities for teachers will increase by 6% and 11% for those instructing in high school and foreign language postsecondary settings, respectively, between 2014 and 2024. Currently, many school districts find it difficult to hire qualified teachers in foreign languages; budget shortfalls have caused some districts to eliminate or cut their foreign language electives.

The median salary estimated for all high school teachers in May 2015 was reported as $57,200 by the BLS. The same source indicated that the median annual salary for postsecondary foreign language teachers was $61,380 the same year.

Alternative Career Options

Similar career options in this field include:

Interpreter and Translator

The number of jobs in this category was estimated to increase by 29% from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS. Interpreters and translators convert information from one language to another. Fluency in English and another language is required, perhaps in addition to a bachelor's degree. As of May 2015, the median salary for this career was $44,190, based on BLS data.

Self-Enrichment Teacher

This career option instructs individuals on self-improvement topics like music, art, language, and cooking. Many self-enrichment teachers are self-employed, while others work for schools or community centers. Teaching and life experience are the most important requirements for these teachers. A 1.5% uptick in jobs was projected by the BLS between 2014 and 2024. Self-enrichment teachers had a median income of $36,680 per year in 2015.

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