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The Comprehensive Guide to Teaching French in the UK

Teaching French in the UK offers you so many opportunities to develop your career. It’s also a great chance to meet new people and learn more about British culture.

Sound exciting?

Perhaps it’s time to pack your umbrella and head over to the United Kingdom to use your language skills to teach French to the Brits.

Read on to find out exactly what you need to do to get your dream job teaching French in the UK.

Contents

What Are The Essential Qualifications?

For some routes you’ll need:

  • A language degree from a university, even if you’re a native speaker, and you will normally need a PGCE. (There are some schools in the private sector where you can teach without a PGCE, but this is up to the individual school)
  • You’ll need to study for five years at a university to achieve your “qualified teaching status.” This includes a four-year language degree with one of those years spent abroad, in addition to a year afterwards doing the PGCE itself.

You can choose a language degree with an emphasis on translating or interpreting, or you can concentrate on a more traditional degree with lots of French literature and history.

During the PGCE year, you can expect lots of classes about the theory of education followed by a couple of placements in local schools. There, you will get to teach real classes alongside an experienced teacher who will act as your mentor.

At a language school, you may not even need a degree in French. Some language schools are happy to take you on as an employee if you can show proficiency in the language and good communication skills. You might also get the opportunity to teach slightly more vocational courses like Business French or Legal French.

Some schools will have their own specific methods of teaching. If this is the case, you’ll be trained in their particular format.

Another possible route into teaching French in the UK is to set up your own business as a French tutor. Nowadays, with the wonders of the Internet, you can even teach students who aren’t located in the UK themselves.

Once again, the amount you earn will depend on your qualifications. If you have teaching qualifications and a degree, you’ll be able to charge more for your services, especially if you have knowledge of GCSE and A-level examinations. You might also teach adults who want to visit or live in France in the future.

How much will it cost?

Nowadays, a degree can cost you up to £9,250 per year depending on which part of the UK you are from.

Those of you who are lucky enough to live in Scotland, however, can go to a Scottish university to study undergraduate courses for free. And Northern Irish universities will only charge their local students a maximum of £4,030 per year. Students from Wales can also apply for funding support.

Logo for The Uni Guide

To learn more details about university fees in your region look at this article on the Times Higher Education website.

You can find lists of available courses online at The Uni Guide through their French language and PGCE information pages.

Where to Find Jobs

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By far, the best place to look for secondary school teaching positions in the UK is the Times Educational Supplement. They produce a hard copy which you’ll often find in the staff room of most schools, but they also have a great online version.

You can look out for job bulletins published by your local education authority. This can be particularly useful if you’re looking for jobs in Northern Ireland, where schools don’t always advertise in the TES.

Take a look online at the language courses offered at Queen’s University, Belfast and UCL in London for examples of the types of language courses available. A quick search online in your local area should give you plenty of information about where you can find French evening classes near you.

There are also organizations that provide French classes across several different locations in the UK. One of the more popular organizations with multiple branches across the country is Cactus Language School.

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You may also find some opportunities to teach French in language schools like Alliance Française and the Institut Français.

There are also several universities and colleges in the UK that run language schools alongside their normal classes in the evening.

A great place to look for jobs at universities is at FE Jobs, but you may also see posts advertised at your university in your final year of studying for a PhD.

teach-french-in-the-uk

A great place to look for jobs at universities is at FE Jobs, but you may also see posts advertised at your university in your final year of studying for a PhD.

Being a temporary foreign language assistant can be a great way of gaining some experience working with students while teaching more about your language and culture.

You will also be paid £848 per month for about 12 hours of work per week. If this applies to you and you’re interested in finding out more, check out the information at the Institut Français website or at this page on the British Council site.

What to Expect During the Interview

For some schools, you’ll spend the whole day at the interview, from the morning until the afternoon. You’ll tour the school and meet the staff, along with the other candidates for the post, and you’ll likely have to teach a lesson and sit at a panel interview. Some schools even require you to do a mini-interview in French with someone in the department.

As you can imagine, it can be a busy day culminating in a nervous wait with the other candidates to see who gets the job. Make sure that you give yourself a good breakfast and a good night’s sleep before any teaching interview, because it can really tire you out!

Some schools may interview you in a similar format to businesses: you’ll attend the interview on your own and won’t see or interact with any other candidates. You may not even have to teach a lesson. So, make sure to review the details sent to you in the information packet beforehand.

What to Expect From Teaching in a School or University

If you have the right to live and work in the UK permanently, this could be the path for you. There’s great job security in teaching, one of the best pension schemes on offer in the UK and you get paid a full-time wage during the school holidays!

The pros of taking this path are the holidays, and that you get the chance to have a long career in a rewarding profession. The salary of a teacher is also good, and there’s a great pension scheme available.

With that said, teaching teenagers can be challenging. But for the right person, it can be incredibly rewarding.

Opportunities to teach languages to younger children in primary schools are more scarce, and the best way to get your foot in the door is to teach in a secondary school and then offer your services to the local primaries.

Most primary schools don’t have the funding or the capacity to employ a full-time foreign language teacher, but you might be able to circulate around several primary schools in your area, doing a few hours at each one.

Most universities will expect you to have done research and possess a PhD in French. The pay is similar to that of a classroom teacher, but of course, the level you teach will be much more advanced.

There is also a very different atmosphere, with less required in the way of discipline techniques or crowd control. Best of all, the students will be more independent and self-motivated. You may have to give lectures to large groups of students, as well as teaching in smaller classes, so you’ll spend more time marking papers and holding assessments than you would in other teaching positions.

What to Expect from Teaching at a Language School

A language school differs from a high school in that language schools are businesses that sell language courses and classes to the public.

Teaching in a language school is very different to teaching at a state or independent school. You’ll have students of different ages who have paid to come and learn a language in weekly classes.

The students are generally more motivated, as they have paid for their courses and decided to attend during their free time. It’s also likely that there will be a really nice mix of people from all different sorts of backgrounds.

Some teachers might prefer teaching in this environment as it can be less stressful than managing large groups of teenagers.

Possible drawbacks include:

  • Working in the evening.
  • Lower pay than a schoolteacher.
  • Being scheduled for part-time hours.

What to Expect from Tutoring Privately

Being your own boss allows you to control your hours and your rates, but you’ll have to deal with all of your finances and taxes. You also might find that initially, you don’t have enough students to cover all your bills.

A successful French tutor, however, can make a decent living by offering solo tutoring alongside group lessons. And if you’re able to find your own students, this could be a good way forward for you.

Some clients will need you to travel to their home, so having a reliable vehicle is very important. You might have a lot of students wanting to work towards an exam, which can limit the freedom of what you teach.

You’ll often be teaching in a one-to-one situation, so you’ll be able to build rapport and trust with your individual students. You might also have more freedom in dictating your schedule/available hours.

 

If you’re looking for resources to help you teach French in the UK, you could try using the Schools program for language learning platform FluentU. You can assign your students authentic French videos that include dual-language interactive subtitles, through which they can see context-specific definitions for any words they don’t know.

You could also try out some of these useful French teaching resources, including Light Bulb Languages, TES Connect and more.

 

With a passion for the French language, you will find a way to teach that suits you.

The most important thing about becoming a French teacher is that you’re passionate about French, and that you want to pass your passion onto others. So take some time to think about your preferred path and then dive right in!

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