France has been one of the best-loved destinations for hundreds of Global English trainees over the years.
So this week I have been thrilled to hear from former Global English trainee Gary Atkins, an English language teacher living and working in central France.
Gary shares what it's like to live in one of the most rural parts of the country, how he blends voluntary and paid work and how understanding French is essential to being part of the rural community. So let's get started!
We moved to the Nièvre (58) in December 2018 after 20 years of pastoring in the UK. Life was too busy and all sorts of circumstances accelerated a long term call to France with an empty diary! We love the Nièvre because virtually no-one speaks English which has made it much easier to become part of the community. After three years we’re getting into the groove of a very different life which we love.
When we landed, my wife and I had all sorts of ideas of what we might do in our new life. Once the internet was finally installed, I took the opportunity to take the 120-hr course (plus Essential Grammar and Business English). Honestly, I had no idea what I would do with them but saw them as an investment. That’s proved true in two ways: I have had a modest number of adults wanting to recover their English from school days - and especially to speak English rather than American after movie overload. Probably more significantly, I teach a brilliant group of adults at the local Centre Social on a voluntary basis which has been great for our integration but also two years (and counting) of invaluable classroom experience! Now with a stream of other consultancy work, I’m able to flex the teaching work to fit, knowing that I can increase it as needed. Most of the paid teaching is on zoom and usually 1:1, even after COVID.
Being based in such a remote area, every student and lesson is an investment in the community. People are as fascinated by UK history and culture as much as they are by the language and we have probably learned as much about French history and culture by teaching English as by reading books on the subject. Teaching and teachers are really valued here and it’s a real joy to contribute to our new home this way.
In the (very) rural area in which we live, it would be virtually impossible without good French. That’s partly true of the lessons, but much more so the relationships and invaluable links we’ve been able to make with the wider social and community scene as a result.
Whilst online teaching is now more common than it was, understanding and being part of a rural community is essential. Even in the “large” towns of the 58, we “know and are known” which means students and opportunities come to us rather than us having to market anything. That certainly fits our new life and provides amazing flexibility. If teaching was my sole income…I’m not sure we’re in the right place!
Regards / Cordialement,
PS setting up legally and financially as an English teacher here was really easy to do and is really easy to maintain….
Thanks Gary, it's great to hear from you and how you have settled so well into your new environment.
Find other stories of people living and working in France:
Check out our dedicated teaching English in France page >>
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