Career Profile: French Teacher
A French teacher’s task is to inspire students to enjoy the French language. Learning is made much easier if the learner is enthusiastic about it; thus, a French teacher must demonstrate the benefits of speaking and using French every day. It is certainly not an easy job, but with enough passion and patience it can be a very rewarding one.
In Ontario, teachers must hold a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree from any recognized University. A primary/junior teacher (grades K-6) will have a degree in any discipline (although a variety of courses is recommended). An intermediate/senior teacher (grades 7-12) is required to have a certain number of courses in two “teachable” areas – for example, French and History. Then, a teacher must take a one-year Bachelor of Education degree.
The Bachelor of Education is a combination of education classes and student teacher training. An example schedule would be six months of courses and two months of student teaching. French teachers would also take courses specific to teaching French to the age group they have chosen.
The French Classroom
The first year of employment in any profession is often the most difficult, and teaching is certainly no exception. In teaching, there is a lot of autonomy – that is, the teacher gets to decide what happens in his or her classroom without supervision. For some teachers, this is very scary, while others love the freedom. Teaching French is unique in that it involves teaching many classes of students at different grade levels. A single French teacher may teach six different classes every day, either in his or her own classroom, or by traveling from classroom to classroom.
Skills and Challenges
A French teacher must be highly organized, particularly because the job requires so much flexibility. Teaching grade 2 French, then grade 4 French, then back to another class of grade 2 French requires quick adjustment and well-planned materials. The job also requires a great deal of confidence, as does any teaching position; however, the French teacher might teach in front of students as well as coworkers, if he or she is on a “rotary” schedule. Teaching French can also be challenging because many students see French as an unnecessary chore; it can be quite challenging to earn class interest and attention as a result. A solid background is also required, as students quickly become skeptical of a teacher whose French knowledge is limited.
For people who cannot imagine working in an office, the classroom is a liberating environment. Teachers direct the action of classrooms, and can decide what the class is doing at any given time. The feeling of getting a student interested in French, or having already-interested students show enthusiasm in the classroom, is the reason many teachers go into education. It is an extremely challenging but rewarding occupation.
One word of caution, however: teaching should never be chosen for the vacations or “shorter hours.” Despite what non-teachers might say, teaching is a profession that is every bit as demanding, if not more demanding, than it is rewarding.