- What is a French Language Assistant?
- How Long Can You Be a Language Assistant?
- What Is the Role of a Language Assistant?
- What’s the Difference Between a Language Assistant and a Teacher?
- Where Can Language Assistants Go?
- How Do You Apply as a French Language Assistant?
- Doing a Year Abroad as a Language Assistant
- Can You Do More than One Year as a Language Assistant?
“Those who teach, must never cease to learn” - John Cotton Dana
For native speakers of French, there are 1,400 positions open for those wanting to work abroad as a foreign language assistant. However, if you’re not a native speaker, there’s nothing stopping you going abroad and teaching French, too. With so many people around the world learning French as a foreign language, there are opportunities all over the world.
In this article, we're going to look at what a French language assistant is, how long you can be a French language assistant for, and whether or not you can do a year or more, what their role is, the differences between language assistants and teachers, and where they can go.
What is a French Language Assistant?
A French language assistant’s role is to help a French teacher during their class. Generally, this position is for native speakers of the language. After all, language teaching isn't easy and without immersion, students need all the help they can get if they want to become bilingual.
They can work in primary schools, secondary schools, colleges, or universities, for example. The programmes for language assistants are usually reserved for university students who are native speakers of the language or residents of French-speaking countries.
How Long Can You Be a Language Assistant?
Depending on the destination, assistants usually go for between 4 and 7 months. This is because you usually go for a number of academic terms. You may be there for the autumn/winter term, the spring/summer term, or both.
Of course, this differs from country to country. If done as part of a degree, they’re either paid or given a bursary.
What Are the Advantages?
- Starting a career
- Gaining skills through your degree
- Fees usually paid by the programme
- Decent salary
What Is the Role of a Language Assistant?
They don’t replace a teacher but rather provide assistance by helping students with their speaking, comprehension, and language learning in general.
They’ll often take small groups of students to one side in order to practise speaking during their language courses, for example. Their main focus will be on the communicative aspects of the language rather than the academic side of things.
They can have various roles:
- Practising speaking and improving their understanding of the spoken language.
- Conversation classes
- Introducing students to the culture of the target language
- One-on-one assistant for certain students
- Helping students with specific aspects of grammar, their homework and coursework, and fluency.
- Participating in educational activities at the school, college, university, or language centre.
- Creating an exchange programme with French students.
- Running a French language club.
- Intensive classes to improve language skills and language proficiency
- Helping students prepare for French language qualifications
- Providing teaching material on vocabulary, linguistics, language and culture, etc.
- Running French cultural activities.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’ll give you some idea of what language assistants do.
What’s the Difference Between a Language Assistant and a Teacher?
A language assistant helps a language teacher to teach their class. They work alongside the teacher and students to help them progress more than they would with just the teacher. However, depending on the establishment, language assistants may be required to apply as part of a programme rather than the establishment itself.
Where Can Language Assistants Go?
There are usually around 1,400 places for French foreign language assistants in various countries. Depending on where language assistants go, the working conditions and wages will differ. This will vary on the number of hours worked.
For each destination, there are different criteria. Of course, you can always apply directly to places, too.
If you want to live and work in a German-speaking country, here are the countries where they accept French language assistants:
If you’d prefer to live in a country where they speak English, you have the following options:
- New Zealand
You could improve your Spanish working as a French language assistant in these countries:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
To learn Chinese, you might want to look into these countries:
There are also places where you could learn languages such as Dutch, Portuguese, Arabic, etc.:
- The Netherlands
How Do You Apply as a French Language Assistant?
While the conditions vary by country, if you want to be a French language assistant as part of the programme, you’ll need:
- To be a French national living in France
- To be a student enrolled in a French university
- Have finished the second year of your degree
- Have never been employed as a teach of the target language
- Be between 20 (22 for India) and 30 (35 for certain countries).
- Have a B1 in the target language (with the exception of China and the Netherlands).
While the programme isn’t just for those aspiring to be teachers, those with an interest in teaching are more likely to be accepted. Of course, if you’re not eligible to apply as part of the programme, you can always look for teaching assistant positions directly. You’ll probably need to provide copies of your university transcript, necessary ID, etc.
The applications are usually done towards the start of the calendar year (between January and March). Once you’ve applied, you may get a response within a few weeks or a few months. The speed of response also tends to vary by country.
- April: Belorussia, Canada, China, USA, India, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Taiwan.
- May: Germany, Argentina, Austria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Ecuador, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Ireland, Dominican Republic.
- June: Italy, UK.
- July: Australia, Boliva, New Zealand, Peru.
Usually, language assistants start at the beginning of the academic year as this time is the best for them to get to know the students.
Doing a Year Abroad as a Language Assistant
If you’re studying a language degree, you can opt to do a year abroad as a language assistant. Of course, if you’re studying French, you’ll go to a French-speaking country and teach English rather than teach French. This allows you to benefit from the Erasmus grant, too.
You should check with your university to see if this is an option. If it is, you’ll usually have some accompanying work to do for your host university about your time as a language assistant.
In some cases, since your year abroad is an extra university year, it mightn’t affect your grades.
Can You Do More than One Year as a Language Assistant?
Depending on the programme you do or whether you apply directly, there may be limitations to the number of years you can be a language assistant. Certain countries do allow you to renew at the end of the academic year. Of course, you’ll have to hope that the school wants to keep you and that there aren’t new candidates vying for your position.
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Possible Contract Renewals
- New Zealand
- The Netherlands
Countries Where You Can’t Renew
- Costa Rica
There’s financial aid available for those going abroad. Have a check with your university to see if it’s possible.
Are you ready to give it a go?
If you need help with your French or teaching skills, consider hiring a private tutor on Superprof. There are three types of tutorials available: group tutorials, online tutorials, and face-to-face tutorials.
Group tutorials are like a traditional class with one teacher and multiple students. With several students, the cost of the tutor's time is shared amongst those in attendance. If you and several friends want to learn something together, consider hiring a private tutor offering group tutorials.
Face-to-face tutorials are private tutorials with one tutor and one student. This type of tutorials tends to be the most expensive since you're getting a tailored service. However, they're also the most cost-effective since you're the focus of your tutor's attention for every minute.
Online tutorials are available to anyone with an internet connection, a webcam, and programmes like Skype. You can get tutorials from a tutor anywhere in the world using this method and since they don't have to physically travel to you, they'll usually cost less to hire for the hour.
Work out which type of tutorials is best for you!
You could even become a private tutor yourself.