Becoming a French tutor can be such a rewarding and lucrative experience.
Plus, considering that the French-speaking community is poised to experience significant growth over the next couple of decades, the French language is about to become one of the most in-demand languages in the workplace.
But if you’re thinking about taking the plunge and becoming a French tutor, you’ll quickly realize that there’s a lot to consider.
That’s why we’ve boiled it down to 11 crucial steps, from honing your language skills all the way to building your reputation.
Here are some expert insights to help you get your tutoring business off the ground and become an in-demand French tutor.
How to Become a French Tutor in 11 Smart Steps
Whether your goal is to tutor French in a class or a private setting, it can be a lot of fun. Also, unfortunately it’s not enough to be a good teacher—you’ll need to find students too! Follow these steps to start marketing your expert French tutoring skills today.
1. Hone your language and teaching skills
Make sure that you understand what you’re getting into. As a tutor, you should be able to anticipate and answer your students’ questions with accuracy and confidence on any subject. This is absolutely doable provided that you’re prepared.
Be on top of key grammar, conjugation and spelling rules. Review the “Bescherelle Conjugaison” and “Bescherelle Grammaire” prior to a class and don’t hesitate to proactively complement that with exercises targeting the function you’ll be focused on during your sessions.
Stay current on French culture as well. Reading French news and watch French videos every day to help you engage in meaningful discussions with your students about France, as well as maintain your own French language skills. To maximize efficiency, be sure to jot down some notes about interesting content and use it in class.
For example, you could prepare simple, general questions about topical or cultural subjects and ask your students for their opinion on the matter. This will help improve their speaking and communication skills in French while building a closer, more natural relationship with you.
Finally, read up on various teaching techniques. It’s always a great idea to read French language blogs designed specifically for educators on a regular basis, and to engage in French forums for tutors to exchange teaching tips and lesson ideas.
Education has evolved considerably over the past few years, and interesting new groups of teaching methods have sprung up recently and revolve around encouraging the student to awaken their curiosity and desire to learn.
For example, the flipped classroom model involves the student preparing the lesson before class. Time in class is then spent answering questions and using the new material, making student-teacher interaction more productive.
Another good method is gamification, or the use of educational games to make learning more fun and effective. Knowing the various methods that are available to you is important when you’re a tutor.
Here‘s a more detailed overview of the most effective language teaching techniques. Find one that works best for you and your students, and which generates results.
2. Build your credentials
Whether you’re new at tutoring French or are a veteran French tutor, it’s important to showcase your experience with French. To establish credibility as well as stand out from your competition, you want to show your track record as well as what makes you uniquely positioned to provide French tutoring services.
Start by highlighting what makes you a good tutor. This can include your years of study, time spent in a French-speaking country, the types of classes you offer and your style of teaching. Don’t be bashful to take the time to list your skills and ask yourself what your strengths are in this area.
Don’t forget about your personality while coming up with your skills. When it comes to tutoring, patience, a good sense of humor, an analytical mindset and strong organizational skills can prove very valuable and can be great differentiating factors.
It could be smart to get certified as a French teacher if your intention is to make your tutoring activity a permanent teaching career. While totally optional, this would also enable you to secure more permanent gigs with institutions and French language schools, such as Alliance Française if you’re a native French speaker.
In the United States, all states require that primary and secondary teachers are licensed and certified. Typically, that means holding at least a Bachelor’s degree in French or Education, completing a teaching internship, passing a teaching exam and passing a criminal background check. However, keep in mind that each state is unique and may have different requirements. Do your research and verify what your state requires if you intend to make tutoring a more permanent career.
The American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages provides training and certification as well as additional resources that teachers can use to continue their lifelong education. Another way to obtain your credentials is to study French in the motherland.
While more expensive, this is an incredibly enriching experience that will help you gain exposure to the French culture as well. France Langue offers a certification program for teachers in Paris, Bordeaux, Nice and Biarritz. If you prefer to stay closer to home, the ILSC Montréal also offers certification courses to become a French teacher.
Lastly, it may also be worth joining certified boards and organizations for language tutors. This will completely depend on your objectives, but one such board to explore is the American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages.
3. Know the curriculum
Review the syllabus you’re going to teach and be very familiar with it. This will help you bring coherence and structure to your classes. In addition, knowing your lesson plan is a great way to show your students your high level of preparation and let them know what functions and objectives you’re targeting. Make sure to target specific language goals and base your lessons on your students’ existing learning skills.
Be mindful of your students’ fluency level, especially if they’re in the official schooling system. As a tutor, knowing the official French syllabus for each grade level will keep you on track to best complement your student’s efforts at school. Knowing what they’re studying in class can also help you anticipate some of your student’s questions as well as help you structure your classes better.
Some potential syllabi you might end up teaching include the SAT French, AP French, DELF and DALF, or the TCF. Be sure to review the specificities of each program. The AP French exam, for example, focuses on six themes that students should master.
Preparing students for official tests may be both challenging and rewarding, considering that the demand and cost for tutors who know officials tests inside and out is generally higher than average.
4. Build your own lesson plans
Purchase essential teaching materials if you don’t already own them. “Le Bled: Orthographe, Grammaire, et Conjugaison” is a precious helper you’ll want to keep close by. Use it when you need to quickly review a rule or create exercises.
Alternatively, use the web to find key resources to help you come up with your French courses. More than a dictionary, the Larousse site, for example, provides a thesaurus, a useful encyclopedia and games to build interesting, content-rich lessons.
Keep in mind that the best French lessons are designed by you! It’s important to have a special sauce: Create unique lesson plans that your students won’t find anywhere else. Use your own experience with the French language and culture and come up with content and anecdotes that you’ve found interesting, but are little known about France.
One place you can turn to for inspiration are French radio sites. They generally have in-depth articles that can provide an interesting point of view on a new subject. France Inter has a wealth of captivating programs to get you started. We particularly love La Marche de l’Histoire (the march of history), which delivers insights on key historical events, and La Revue de Presse (the press review), which summarizes and discusses major daily news and events in France and around the world.
Make your lesson plans fun and interactive to maximize their effectiveness. Try different activities that will keep lessons enjoyable and fresh. For example, rather than simply asking your students to read a text or dialogue out loud, ask your students to bring the content to life using role play. If you study a text that discusses professions in French, you could ask your students to pick a job they like and act the part. How do they interact with clients? How do they talk about a product or a service they offer? This will make your lessons more lively and encourage your students to use their creativity.
Downloading French language apps can also help you make the most of your teaching experience. Here are some good ones to get you started. Aside from giving you a wealth of ideas, they can bringing structure and fun to your classes. Some of them even allow you to monitor homework, track progress and engage with your students’ parents. Give them a try and find one that works best for you. It’s important that your students like your classes and see results to generate repeat business!
5. Set up your business essentials
Unless you don’t mind putting your personal contact information out there, it can be a wise idea to create a dedicated business email that will link to your French tutoring services. You can do this easily on any free email platform, such as Google’s Gmail.
Additionally, you should sign up for a Paypal business account to maximize the payment options you offer. Look into Square and alternative credit card acceptance services as well. In some cases, that can make the difference between getting a client or not.
6. Price your services
Decide how much you want to charge per lesson. This is a very important step: Price it too high and you may alienate yourself from a significant client base. Price it too low and potential clients may not take you seriously. When setting a price, it may be worthwhile spending the time to investigate what your competitors charge for lessons. Search the Internet to give you an idea; be on the lookout for French tutoring ads in your area, and even ask around to find what the market rate is.
You may also want to factor in your own costs when setting on a price. List tangible and even intangible elements, such as gas price and commute time if you’re traveling to your students’ place, printouts and other materials handed out to students, time to correct homework if it applies and even cost of acquiring each client (e.g. cost to place an ad, referral fee, etc,…).
Then, create a smart pricing strategy. A good way to up-sell your services is to offer options. Rather than have your students pay for a single class, incentivize them to pay a bundle of classes upfront. This will bring cash flow and predictability to your business. A good way to do this is to increase the cost per unit for a single class, and lower the cost per unit for a set of classes.
For example, if you charge $30 for an hour class, offer a 20% discount for a set of 10—that’s $240 for 10 lessons, or $24 per lesson. You have the option to put an expiration date on these classes.
Use the same principles to encourage students to book longer classes or book group lessons. For example, offer the option of a 2-hour session for $50, or $25 an hour. This is particularly effective at limiting time waste for you.
For group classes, lower the cost per student to $18 an hour for a class of three. This is a great way to accommodate students with less disposable income, as well as increase your hourly rate. Keep in mind that group classes, however, are more intensive for you and require that you’re able to pay the same level of attention to each attendee as for individual lessons.
Lastly, offer incentives. It’s a great way to generate new business. A smart way to encourage your students to refer you to their friends is to let them know that you’ll give them a free lesson for each friend that they bring to you.
7. Make a website
Create a basic website and showcase your services. Wix has a lot of easily customizable templates to choose from that can help put your tutoring business to the best light.
For now you just need somewhere to direct interested students, which provides your background, specialties, rates, contact information and perhaps testimony.
8. Spread the word in your community
Start telling the world that you’re a French tutor. Your friends and acquaintances may be great funnels for referrals, but they need to know that you actually are able to tutor French! Don’t be bashful; ask for the sale. Also, be sure to tell them about your credentials briefly and share your website. It may come in handy if they actually meet someone who’s looking for a French tutor and they ask about your level of experience.
Be confident but friendly about it. You’ll be happy to see that most people respond positively when you’re open about your intentions.
Create catchy ads, print them and display them in high-traffic areas. Highlight your qualifications and what makes you the best tutor. Don’t forget to mention the essentials, including where the classes take place, teaching style, past experience, time spent living in France or in a French-speaking country, and your phone number or email address.
9. Start networking
Talk to people you don’t know about your tutoring services. In order to convey a high level of professionalism and your commitment to this activity, it’s a good idea to create simple business cards and hand them out to the people who show interest in your services, as well as small business-owners who can help quickly spread the word out for you to their clients.
Do your research on nearby schools that teach French. There may be some students who are interested in tutoring services. Introduce yourself to the staff and ask to display your ads in the school.
10. Advertise online
Craigslist can actually be a great start, despite of its unpolished feel. Use the catchy ad you wrote and place it in your local Craigslist page. Don’t forget to repost the ad occasionally. Depending on your location, the ad expires within seven days to a month.
WyzAnt is a platform for tutoring in-person as well as online, but tends to be focused on helping people find teachers for any subject in their areas. If you’re mostly interested in tutoring in-person, Wyzant can be a more professional alternative to a resource like Craigslist.
Verbling is another great resource to find a tutoring job, but specializes in online teaching. Start by applying to teach and set up your teacher’s profile using a catchy description, picture and proposed rate. Make sure to set your preferences and enjoy the flexibility.
Livelingua is a community of teachers from all over the world who tutor French exclusively via Skype. Sign up for a free account and start teaching on your own time. Keep in mind that this is open to native French speaking tutors only, and that you need to nonetheless meet certain standards in order to be approved on their platform.
11. Build your reputation
Contribute to French language blogs and share your expert knowledge online. Aside from highlighting your expertise as a French tutor, these sites often let you place your own byline and link to your website. Make sure to take the time to craft informative articles and write a catchy byline to attach to your articles, including a link back to your website.
Be active on social media as well. This is an additional way to showcase your skills, opinions and personality as a French tutor. This will allow students to know you better and can also be helpful in generating new business as well. Don’t neglect LinkedIn and spend some time perfecting your profile. This can enhance your credibility as a professional tutor when prospect students look you up to verify your credentials.
Now that you know how to become a French tutor, all you need is to take the jump and most importantly, enjoy the ride!
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