Becoming a French Language Teacher: Job Description & Salary Info

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Learn about a French language teacher's job duties, salary and education requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a French language teacher career.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a French Language Teacher

French language teachers instruct on a variety of topics, from the building blocks of grammar and vocabulary to the intricacies of French poetry. The following table describes some of the pros and cons with this job.

Pros of a Career Teaching French Language
Wide variety of job possibilities*
Good job growth expected for elementary and middle school teachers (12%), as well as postsecondary teachers (19%) from 2012-2022*
Tenure offered for some positions*
Possibilities for travel**

Cons of a Career Teaching French Language
Lengthy education requirements for some positions (6+ years)*
Continuing education requirements*
Low job growth opportunities for high school teachers (6% through 2022)*
Long hours for many positions*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Job postings from April 2012.

Career Information

Job Duties and Descriptions

The duties may vary, depending on the grade level you teach. Effective teaching requires explaining concepts clearly and structuring lessons with practice exercises to meet the needs of your students. Teachers are responsible for assessing student progress, which may involve preparing reports for parents and school administrators. This work often requires hours of preparation and follow up. You may also be involved in cultural exercises, French clubs and trips to French-speaking countries that provide enrichment opportunities for your students.

Skills

As a teacher, you will need to be creative and find ways to engage your students. You will need to have good motivational, communicative and organizational skills. Besides your students, you will often interact with parents and school administrators. You must also be committed to your students' growth and able to handle the stresses of a classroom.

Salary and Job Prospects Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2014 that teachers earned median salaries of $54,000 at the elementary and middle school levels and $56,000 at the high school level, while college professors earned about $62,000 (www.bls.gov). The BLS projected job growth of 12% from 2012-2022 for teachers at the elementary and middle school levels, which was about average for all occupations. Postsecondary teachers were projected to see job growth of 19% over the same period, which was faster than the average. However, high school teachers face a more difficult job market with just a projected six percent increase in jobs.

What Are the Requirements?

Education

You will need a bachelor's degree if you want teach elementary, middle or secondary school. Most universities offer teacher education programs, which typically take four years to complete and involve coursework in educational psychology, teaching methods and special education. To specialize in French, you will also complete intensive courses in French grammar, literature and history. Many future French teachers take advantage of the opportunity to spend time in a French speaking country through study abroad programs.

Master's degrees are preferred by some secondary schools and are generally necessary for you to teach for community colleges. If you have earned a bachelor's degree in French, you may earn a Master of Education. If you would like to become a French professor, you'll need to earn a doctorate, which involves roughly 3-4 years of courses, followed by a couple of years researching and writing your dissertation.

Certification

The BLS reports that all states have licensing requirements that teachers in public schools must meet. While the standards vary by state, common requirements include a bachelor's degree with student teaching experience, as well as passing a subject and basic skills test. Continuing education is often required to maintain eligibility. If you teach in a private school, licensing may not be required.

What Do Employers Look for?

Employers looking to hire French teachers typically require an ability to motivate and communicate with students, as well as a passion for learning and discovery. In April 2012, the following job postings were listed:

  • A Massachusetts private school advertised for a full-time high school French teacher. The candidate would be responsible for teaching six levels of French classes, from French I through AP French.
  • A community college in North Carolina sought an adjunct French instructor to teach part time. A master's degree with 18 graduate hours in French was required and teaching experience was preferred.
  • A Brooklyn public school posted an opening for a French bilingual second grade teacher. The candidate would work alongside an English teacher with a mixed group of French language learners and native French speakers. Experience living in a Francophone country, fluency in French and knowledge of second language acquisition was required.
  • An Internet-based private educator advertised for a French teacher to teach grades 9-12. A bachelor's degree, flexible schedule and proficiency in MS Excel, Word and Outlook were required. The ability to travel and visit students every month was also required.

How to Stand out in the Field

Add Another Language

Most schools offer Spanish along with French, and the ability to teach both would be very attractive to employers. The languages are similar structurally, and Spanish is more widely spoken in the U.S. than French, so you might want to look at adding it to your skill set.

Join an Organization

Joining organizations such as the Alliance Française or the American Association of Teachers of French will allow you to keep up to date with developments in the world of French culture and instruction. Both groups offer conferences and job boards and postings. Belonging to groups such as these can demonstrate a commitment to professionalism and a love of your subject.

Alternate Careers

Translator

If teaching doesn't really appeal to you, but translating or interpreting does, a career as a translator might be a good possibility for you. According to the BLS, in 2011 translators earned median salaries of $44,000. Job prospects were expected to be excellent, with a 42% job growth projected from 2010-2020. Interpreters and translators are used by a wide variety of industries, and you'll need a bachelor's degree and native fluency in another language.

Tutor

If you would prefer to work one-on-one with students, rather than in a classroom setting, you might look into tutoring. Language tutors work with a variety of students, helping them keep up with coursework or prepare for tests. In this type of work, you may be running your own business, so you'll need to advertise, schedule students, collect payments and keep track of records. According to Payscale.com, the earnings of tutors range significantly depending on factors like experience-level.

ESL Teacher

English as a second language (ESL) teachers are in demand both at home and abroad, and if you want to travel, this career may open up opportunities for you. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programs are widely available through undergraduate and graduate programs. The BLS indicates that licensing and certification requirements may vary by state or employer.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Saint John's University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ph.D. in Literacy
      • Ph.D. in Literacy: Educational Leadership
      • Ph.D. in Literacy: Special Education
      • Ph.D. in Literacy: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
      • Ph.D in Literacy: Literacy
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Concordia University Portland

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctorate of Education - Higher Education
      • EdD Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation
    Master's
      • Master of Education - Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership
      • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)
      • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Reading
      • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Science
      • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Mathematics
      • M.S. - Career and Technical Education (CTE)
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning
      • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership - Behavioral Health
    Master's
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
      • M.Ed. in Elementary Education
      • M.Ed. in Secondary Education
      • M.Ed. in Early Childhood
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
      • B.S. in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Christian Education
      • BS in Early Childhood
      • B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education
  • Online Programs Available
    4. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Education - Curriculum and Instruction
      • Master of Education - Elementary Education
      • Master of Education - Secondary Education
      • Master: Education - Leadership in Educational Organizations
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • PhD in Education - Curriculum and Teaching
      • Ed.D. - Curriculum and Teaching
      • Ed.D. - General Education
      • EdD - Learning Analytics in Higher Education
    Master's
      • M.Ed. - Curriculum and Teaching
      • MEd - General Education
      • MAT - Curriculum and Teaching
      • M.Ed. - Early Childhood Education
      • MAT - Early Childhood Education
    Certificate
      • Education Specialist - Curriculum and Teaching
      • Education Specialist - Early Childhood Education
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Graduate Level Instructional Practices
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Special Education with Wilson Reading Certificate
    Certificate
      • Certificate - Online Accelerated Teacher (OATCERT)
      • Certificate - Special Education
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    9. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
      • Master: Education (for Practicing Teachers: K-12)
      • Master: Higher Education - College Teaching/Learning
      • Master: Higher Education - Online College Teaching
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Early Childhood Administration
      • Undergraduate in Early Childhood

Featured Schools

Saint John's University

  • Ph.D. in Literacy
  • Ph.D. in Literacy: Educational Leadership
  • Ph.D. in Literacy: Special Education

What is your highest level of education?

Concordia University Portland

  • Doctorate of Education - Higher Education
  • EdD Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation
  • Master of Education - Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership
  • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning
  • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Master: Education - Curriculum and Instruction
  • Master of Education - Elementary Education
  • Master of Education - Secondary Education

Are you a US citizen?

Northcentral University

  • PhD in Education - Curriculum and Teaching
  • M.Ed. - Curriculum and Teaching
  • Education Specialist - Curriculum and Teaching

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Graduate Level Instructional Practices

Are you a US citizen?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS - Special Education with Wilson Reading Certificate
  • Certificate - Online Accelerated Teacher (OATCERT)
  • Certificate - Special Education

What is your highest level of education completed?

Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

What is your age?