French Teacher Certification: How to Make Your Teaching Dreams a Reality
Do you have a passion for the French language that just won’t quit?
If so, becoming a certified French teacher may be an exciting career choice for you.
Aside from validating your knowledge of the French language and culture, earning your teacher certification is a requirement for anyone, native French speaker or not, who’s looking to work in a public or private school.
If you’re already tutoring French, earning your certification could also help you justify higher rates and attract more students.
So, how do you get started?
Read on! We’ve created a guide to give you a better understanding of the French teacher certification process and all the tools to rock it.
Who Should Become a Certified French Teacher?
- You’re a French language expert. This should be a given for anyone seeking to embark on a professional French teaching career. You should love and be fluent in the French language, and you should be knowledgeable about the many diverse cultures associated with French. Ideally, your passion should be contagious. People can feel your enthusiasm and are very receptive to the information you introduce.
- You’re hungry for interpersonal interaction. As a certified teacher, you’ll be in constant contact with students and inspire them to continue on their journey with French. Especially if you’re teaching children or teenagers in a classroom setting, you’ll need to have an open mind and have the patience to guide them through their challenges.
- You’re a lifelong learner seeking personal growth. One of the perks of being a French language teacher is that you’ll be constantly in contact with the language and associated cultures. Better yet, teaching French is a fantastic way to maintain and activate your French language skills if you can’t work in a completely French-speaking environment. It also gives you plenty of opportunities to do reading and research to keep classes fresh and engaging. Beyond the language component, becoming a certified teacher is also a great way to test and improve your social and pedagogy skills.
- You’re seeking independence. Few professions offer the level of freedom like teaching does. Flexible schedule, long holidays, options abroad and ability to experiment with French teaching methods—the list of reasons why you should become a certified French teacher is as long as it is appealing.
- It’s your calling. Being a teacher is one of the most laudable vocations. It shows your desire to make an impact on future generations and introduce them to languages and cultures. Indeed, being a teacher is the best way for you to inspire and pass your passion for the French language on to a large number of people.
How to Earn Your French Teacher Certification
Earning your certification is a requirement if you’re looking to become a professional French teacher. It’s a signal to your employer and your students’ parents that you possess the skills and commitment necessary to excel.
There are many routes to earning your certification, but generally, it all begins with a bachelor’s degree, typically in French with a focus on teacher education. This way you’ll study the French language while also learning pedagogy. Your courses may include French grammar, course planning, teaching methods, public speaking, phonetics and French literature.
Completing this four-year program will allow you to teach primary or secondary education, although private school teachers may not be obligated to hold a license. However, you’ll be expected to earn a graduate degree in French if you’re interested in pursuing a career as a college or university professor.
Some states, too, ask for teachers to pursue a master’s degree to maintain their certification. These programs take two years to complete and are designed for individuals who have earned a bachelor’s degree in French but aren’t certified, as well as for educators certified in another subject who are interested in earning a French certification.
You’ll also be required to complete a teaching internship or supervised training program. This means you’ll need to pass a teaching exam, such as Praxis I, and clear a criminal background check. This whole process will allow you to refine your teaching skills and gain a better understanding of the dynamic strategies you can employ to become a successful French teacher.t
While all 50 states require that French teachers hold a certification, the requirements vary state by state. Visit your state’s Department of Education site to learn about the exact certification requirements within your state.
Earning Your Certification
Numerous accredited colleges and universities in the U.S. offer foreign language teacher certification programs. This gives you plenty of options to find the right school to earn your licensure.
Here are some good options:
- NYU Steinhardt offers undergraduate and graduate programs to prepare you to teach the French language to learners of diverse backgrounds. Highly prestigious and recognized internationally, this institution offers dual degrees with courses in Paris and New York City.
- Washington State University provides solid training in French education. Its program integrates French professional education coursework with the French major’s requirements so you can work on your degree while earning your certification simultaneously. WSU also offers financial aid for students pursuing a degree in French education, in addition to general university scholarships.
- Alliance française prepares individuals for the DAEFLE (degree in teaching French as a Foreign Language). Carried out through a partnership with CNED, France’s distance learning center, the program allows any individual to earn a certification in teaching French to non-natives in France and abroad. Check for a list of approved centers near you here.
- Kaplan Inc. offers multiple online graduate programs if you’re looking for a more affordable and flexible certification solution. Make sure that the certification is recognized by your state prior to enrolling.
The 4 Top Tips for Successfully Earning Your French Teacher Certification
Assess Your Skills
The first step to earning your French teacher certification is to achieve total fluency in the French language and to understand the cultures of regions where French is spoken. Make sure that you’re proficient in all four language skill areas (reading, writing, speaking and listening) and don’t hesitate to study up if you feel that you’re still lacking a bit.
Watching French TV, reading French magazines and connecting with a language exchange community can help you bridge any potential gaps quickly.
You’ll also want to acquire a solid understanding of linguistics and pedagogy. For aspiring French teachers, this includes communicative functions of stress, articulation, intonation and phonetics.
Keep in mind that, unlike other French degrees, a French teaching certification requires not just a command of the language, but an ability to teach it in a manner that sustains interest, understanding and motivation among students.
Complete a Semester in a French-speaking Country
If you’re looking to hone your skills in French, studying abroad can prove to be an incredibly enriching experience. Experiences abroad are particularly beneficial and will help you demonstrate to potential colleges and recruiters a deeper command of the language.
Here are some programs worth considering:
- France Langue offers a variety of immersion programs, including two specifically designed for aspiring French teachers. One program is a shorter summer course in Paris, Bordeaux or Nice, while the other is a year-long program in Bordeaux. Classes are small, capped at 15 students, and focused on language, civilization, methodology and creative reflection.
Join an Accredited Organization
Belonging to a professional French teacher organization is another way to demonstrate your commitment to your profession and network with your peers.
This connection will provide you with access to jobs and lifelong learning resources, including workshops, expos and mentoring programs. It’s also a great way to keep up with what’s going on in your profession through members-only news, documents and studies.
The American Council on Foreign Languages is one of the leading and most established associations for foreign language teachers in the U.S. It boasts 12,500 members, including educators and administrators from elementary schools to graduate programs. As a member, you’ll have access to plenty of research and a community of peers. You’ll also receive discounts on multiple insurance programs and on products including books, DVDs and online courses.
Work as a Substitute Teacher During Your College Studies
If you can’t afford to attend a prestigious college or university, consider earning plenty of teaching experience.
Volunteer at the local community college or work as a substitute teacher during your college years. It can be intimidating at first, but taking the leap early will help you overcome potential fears you may have as well as confirm your interest in a teaching career.
This is a fantastic entry into the real world of teaching, and you’ll get to clock in valuable classroom hours. Any teaching time is a great opportunity to make connections in the profession, beef up your resume, identify areas of improvement, get feedback and hone your teaching skills.
Don’t waste time. Take the plunge!
Being a certified French teacher is an incredibly rewarding profession, filled with surprise and joy.
So, what are you waiting for? We wish you the best of luck in all your teaching endeavors.