France is one of the most popular destinations for our TESOL course graduates and so we have lots of advice to give on teaching English in France.
Here retired solicitor and Global English TESOL graduate David Allan shares his experiences. As a freelance EFL teacher in Brittany, he talks about teaching English, finding students and the peculiar politeness of French society...
I retired from legal practice rather unexpectedly and joined my wife in France where she had been living for some time. I am not sure what motivated me to take a TEFL course. My wife gave some English lessons on a casual basis and perhaps this sowed the seed.
I moved to Southern Brittany in the west of France. The nearest large town is Lorient which incidentally was destroyed by British bombers during the war.
The way I acquired students was mainly using existing contacts. My wife had been living in France for some time so we knew lots of people. I printed some flyers off the computer and trudged the streets putting them in letter boxes (without much success) and putting them in shops (more success). But the best thing I did was to contact the local newspaper, who did an article about me. Here the newspapers are part national and part local and the local journalists are always looking for copy.
The (Global English) TESOL course was certainly a help in teaching and I still refer to it today. I put the qualification on my fliers although nobody asked to see a certificate.
I have taught children after school, some mature ladies who were learning English as a hobby and because we lived near a military airport, some pilots who were about to or had retired. Otherwise I have taught ordinary people. There is great interest in learning English here.
Generally I find students eager to learn and very cooperative but one of the most striking differences between France and the UK is the importance of formality and politeness in French society, which used to exist in the UK but no longer does. You do not rush into first names here; Monsieur and Madame are more usual. When you meet someone or start a lesson you shake hands and of course it is difficult to know when to use "tu" or "vous". With adults it is always "vous" (unless you know them well) - with children always "tu" - but when does a child become an adult?
One piece of advice? Well I think it is important to know the employment rules which are very complicated. Otherwise: courage, mon ami!
For a free short guide on teaching English in France, click on the France TESOL Guide document (PDF) at the bottom of this page. Alternatively, read more comments from our successful TESOL course graduates already teaching English in France and if you are considering taking up EFL teaching there, find out which online TESOL course we recommend.
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