Did you hear the one about the girl who said goodbye to her boring day job and became a French tutor?
Yeah, she gained control of her life, got to work for herself and earned a whole load more money to boot.
Sounds too good to be true, right?
Guess what; if you have knowledge of the French language, teaching skills and a little ambition, you could follow in her footsteps!
Imagine being a self-employed French tutor, where you get to work on your own terms.
With globalization and today’s technology, it’s easier than you think.
Read on to find out how.
5-minute French Tutor Training: How to Become a Profitable Teacher
To become a French tutor, all you really need is language proficiency, patience and good communication skills. Of course, having a degree in French will give you a head start, but it’s not necessary to have formal qualifications if you’re working for yourself.
Get started by asking yourself the following questions:
- Is your French advanced enough to teach?
- Will you be able to cope with the inevitable questions students may have about difficult grammar or language rules?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how can you work on improving your skills as an educator?
Answering these questions and looking at your strengths can be a good way to figure out how to stand out from the competition. Use these, combined with your personality to attract students to your private lessons.
Also, it’s a good idea to pinpoint your weaknesses so that you can see if there are any areas you need to improve on, like grammar, spoken French, up-to-date knowledge about the culture and so on.
Degree or not, you may need to brush up on specific teaching skills before you start, and that’s totally fine. Recognizing and eliminating weaknesses will help you to become a confident tutor. Even as a native speaker, you might need to take a grammar refresher to prepare yourself for tutoring French.
How to Develop Your French Tutoring Skills
Being an expert in the language isn’t enough to be a stand-out tutor. You’ll need to develop a teaching style as well.
Most modern tutors integrate all four skills into their lessons (speaking, listening, reading and writing) so that students get a balanced education. Often, they include games or interactive activities to help students learn. Think about how you might do this in your own lessons to keep your students engaged.
Remember, if your students are having fun while they learn, they’re going to want to keep coming back to you for more!
Once you’ve thought about what kind of teaching style you want to use, turn your attention to how you’ll get the best out of each student. Just like teachers, each person has a different learning style and you’ll need to provide variety to really help your students to excel.
Start off by reading up on the different learning styles and how to develop the skills for teaching various types of learners. Some things work really well for some students and not so well for others. The better prepared you are on being able to help lots of different people, the more successful you’ll be as a tutor.
Flex Your Academic Muscle with French Tutor Training Courses
Taking a course on how to tutor can be really beneficial. Not only will you get tons of ideas on activities and tasks you can do with your learners, but you’ll also likely get to try them out on fellow students during the course. This can be a total game-changer when it comes to your confidence in your own teaching abilities. You’ll also get to learn some of the educational theory behind why teachers do what they do, and this will help you to understand how to get the best out of your students.
Nowadays, you can actually train in teaching French as a foreign language with a short course abroad in France. A number of companies provide interested tutors the opportunity to train in cities like Nice, Lyon and Montpelier. There, you could combine a vacation abroad with courses to earn a practical qualification.
Some of the most popular companies that offer teacher training include:
- ESL: Don’t let the name fool you. ESL offers a number of training modules for aspiring French teachers. You can choose also between one to four-week training sessions, and have the option of staying with a French family while you study.
- Cactus Languages: Cactus Languages has courses designed specifically for non-native French speakers. They offer one and two-week programs and refresher courses located across France and in London.
- France Langue: With France Langue, you can take courses throughout the year in various locations in France. What’s more, you even get to choose between group classes and a one-to-one courses, which is great for those wanting to really maximize the support received.
- LanguageCourse.net: This site offers teacher training course throughout the year in various locations across France. Like France Langue, you can also choose between group and one-on-one classes on this site, as well as browse between class sizes.
Once you’ve actually begun work as a tutor, look out for extra training opportunities offered for existing French teachers at places like the French Embassy in the US. Teaching is the kind of skill that really benefits from ongoing training and development.
Read more to learn what materials you need to further develop your tutoring skills.
Gather Up Your Teaching Resources Beforehand
Look around for the resources you might want to use. Offer different courses for different types of students (business, school-age, adults), planning slightly differently for each type of course.
There are lots of great resources that you might want to invest in, and it’s good to use a textbook that your student can buy. You can easily find books and resources for the courses you want to teach on sites such as the European Bookshop and Amazon, or you could check out Pearson, one of the most popular educational publishers around the world.
Also, I recommend purchasing a grammar book for those times when you get asked obscure questions about the language. My favorite is “Le Bon usage.” This grammar book has been an indispensable part of my library. It’s thorough and will answer even the most random of grammar questions for those ambiguous exceptions to the rule, so you never have to be worried about getting stumped again by some off-the-wall grammar question!
Finally, don’t forget to use some real-world material that gives your students a taste of authentic French culture. I recommend adding FluentU to your curriculum. Not only does FluentU teach French in a fun and unique way, it allows you to cover important topics like vocabulary and grammar using video clips from news articles, songs and popular French movies. As a result, students get experience French culture while stepping away from the traditional language-learning curriculum found in textbooks and traditional language-learning software.
What to Know Before You Start Teaching
To start with, you could work as a tutor with an agency in order to gain experience and confidence in the job—and some of you might be happy to work that way permanently. There is usually a requirement for qualifications, however, so this might not always work out if you haven’t completed a French tutor training course.
Think about whether you want to attract students to work with in-person or online and market yourself accordingly. Working with students online can be extremely convenient and gives you a much larger market to play with, but only works for tutors with stable internet connections. Working with students face-to-face can flow more easily for some, but you’ll either have to travel to meet students or have them come to your home—it’s important to manage your time accordingly.
If you’re still not sure which type of tutor you want to be, try both methods and see which you prefer.
How to Get Your First Clients
Now you’ve got your skills and resources sorted, what do you need to do next to get some students?
Find places to advertise your services. Tutor directories are a great place to start.
You might also want to take a look at Care.com for local tutoring jobs across the United States. Think of it as an online classified board specifically for caregivers, including educators and language tutors. You can normally sign up for free and set your own prices and the directory will take a small cut of your earnings. One drawback that can work against you, however, is the competition on these sites. There are hundreds of tutors listed and you’ll need to work hard to make your profile stand out from the rest.
Consider setting up a LinkedIn profile at some point, as well as a website. That way, you can advertise your services away from the rest of the competition. Gather testimonials from students to display on your website or profile and get a professional head shot. People respond better to a human face when looking for services.
Also, when you start to make some money, consider taking out a paid advertisement on a social media platform targeting readers in your area.
You’ve Got Some Students! Now What?
You’ve done all the hard work and now all you need is practice, practice, practice! Enjoy your new role as a French tutor, don’t be afraid to try new ideas in your teaching and don’t worry when you make a mistake—we’re all human. Stay focused, keep striving to be better and you will make a success of your business.
Oh, and don’t forget to get an accountant to keep on top of all that money you’ll be making. Good luck!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach French with real-world videos.