How Do I Become a French Teacher?
Research what it takes to become a French teacher. Learn about education, certification and licensing requirements, and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you.
What Is a French Teacher?
French teachers are educational professionals who instruct students in the study of the French language. They prepare lesson plans, teach classes and use tests and assignments to assess student progress. They may teach students at the elementary, middle school, high school or college level. As part of their duties, elementary, middle and high school teachers may meet with parents or other faculty to discuss student progress. They may also address disciplinary issues with students. Postsecondary teachers may be involved in research, in addition to teaching students.
|Elementary Teacher||Middle School Teacher||High School Teacher||Postsecondary Teacher|
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Master's or Doctoral degree|
|Education Field of Study||French, Education||French, Education||French, Education||French, Education|
|Key Responsibilities||Teach students how to write, speak, and understand the French language||Teach students how to write, speak, and understand the French language||Teach students how to write, speak, and understand the French language||Teach students how to write, speak, and understand the French language|
|Certification and Licensure||State certification or licensure. Some states require potential French teachers to pass specialty exams prior to licensure.||State certification or licensure. Some states require potential French teachers to pass specialty exams prior to licensure.||State certification or licensure. Some states require potential French teachers to pass specialty exams prior to licensure.||Graduate degree in French|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||3%*||3%*||4%*||8%* (postsecondary foreign language and literature teachers)|
|Median Salary (2018)||$58,230*||$58,600*||$60,320*||$67,640* (postsecondary foreign language and literature teachers)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Requirements Must I Fulfill To Teach French?
A fundamental requirement for becoming a French teacher is having an expert knowledge of the language. Besides being fluent in French, you need to be able to clearly teach others how to speak the language. You'll need to earn a bachelor's degree to be eligible to teach at the primary or secondary school level. If you're interested in becoming a college or university professor, you're typically expected to have a graduate degree in French.
You may consider enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in French with a focus on teacher education. In such programs, you study the French language to refine your skills, while taking courses on teaching methods and theory. Your courses may include French grammar, course planning, teaching methods, public speaking, phonetics and literature studies. You may develop your classroom skills in a student teaching internship and hone your conversational skills in class discussion groups.
Do I Need To Be Licensed?
All states have licensing or certification requirements for primary and secondary school teachers, except private school teachers who may not be obligated to hold a license. The general requirements for teacher certification and licensure include holding at least a bachelor's degree, completing a teaching internship or supervised training program, passing a teaching exam and clearing a criminal background check.
Some states may have additional requirements. For example, the New York State Education Department stipulates that in order to be a French teacher for grades 7-12, you must pass a specialty test in French (www.nysed.gov). The New Jersey Department of Education requires you to pass written and oral tests to prove your proficiency in French (www.nj.gov).
What Are My Job Prospects?
As a French teacher, you may teach in public or private schools. You may have opportunities to teach students in different grade levels or offer one-on-one classes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a 3-4% job growth rate for elementary, middle and high school teachers between 2018 to 2028 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, jobs were expected to be best in districts where teachers were reaching retirement age and in low income areas where funding from the government may have increased.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
German, Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL) teachers perform the same tasks as French teachers. They must be fluent in the language they teach, and they must prepare lesson plans, teach classes and use tests and assignments to evaluate their students' progress. They have the same academic and licensing requirements. A special education teacher is another career that also requires a bachelor's degree and allows you to work with students. These professionals teach basic skills and adapt lessons to the needs of their students who have a range of learning or emotional disabilities.