French Language Teacher

Learn about academic requirements and career opportunities for French language teachers. Find job duties, salary information and employment outlook.

Is French Language Teaching for Me?

Career Overview

If you're fascinated by languages and other cultures (and particularly by everything French-related), then you might want to consider a career in French teaching. French is a Romance language spoken by the inhabitants of France, a few other European nations and countries around the world that were colonized by the French. French teachers plan curricula and provide instruction in the French language, grammar, composition and culture.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), teachers must be able to motivate their students and inspire confidence in them (www.bls.gov). The best teachers are creative, organized, patient and able to find different ways of sharing information with students for maximum comprehension.

Employment Information

The BLS projects that between 2012 and 2022 the employment demand should increase by six percent for high school teachers, by 15% for university foreign language professors and by nine percent for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers. As of May 2012, the median annual salary was $55,050 for high school teachers, $48,590 for ESL teachers and $58,670 for foreign language professors.

How Can I Become a French Teacher?

Undergraduate Education and Licensing

French or French education degree programs are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels for aspiring French teachers. Through a bachelor's degree program in French, participants acquire fluency in the French language by studying vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and literature. Other French classes cover culture, including topics in history, cinema, society and cuisine.

French teachers must have a license to teach in American public high schools, and they must demonstrate proficiency in the French language. According to the BLS, a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for a high school teacher. Qualified graduates may take a licensure exam so they can teach at the secondary level. However, requirements for a teaching license vary by state.

Graduate Education

Graduate degrees and certificates are also available for individuals who have an undergraduate degree in French and a desire to acquire the skills to teach the language. A master's degree program in French or French education may lead to a career teaching French at a community college. French graduate programs include studies in research, applied linguistics, French culture and traditions, teaching methods, literature studies, contemporary French language and theories of second language acquisition.

A doctorate is necessary to teach French at a 4-year college or university. Although prior teaching experience isn't usually required, assistant teaching is part of some master's and doctoral degree programs. University professors may attain tenure, which makes it very difficult for them to lose their job. Tenured positions are competitive, difficult to obtain and only available to full-time teachers, according to the BLS. Through doctoral degree programs, scholars pursue additional training in the French language, culture, history and literature, typically specializing in a specific area, such as the literature of a time period or author.

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