Free English as a Second Language (ESL) Lesson Plans and Activities

This weekend was the end of les grandes vacances in France because all public school students start the school year on Thursday. I actually love this time year of because it means that France is alive again. It’s not just back to school, but back to work since a lot of stores and businesses close in July and August when most people leave on vacation. I’m looking forward to getting back to regular life this fall even though that means unemployment for me once again.

Even though I don’t exactly have a rentrée of my own this year, I figured it was time to update the ESL Lesson Plans page for those who will be teaching English this fall. Most of the lessons I used as a lectrice were designed as interactive exercises for students to do while using a computer in class. I’ve reformatted some of them so that they can be printed and copied more easily, and will continue to add more lessons as I finally clean out the English folders on my hard drives. My first two years as an assistant I spent a ridiculous amount of time on planning lessons and therefore thinking in English, when I should have been  improving my French everyday. I hope these resources will help future assistants take advantage of their short time in France.

My lectrice job at the university was a 12 month short-term contract, renewable for only one extra year. So as of October 1, I will be unemployed because even though there are vacataire jobs at the university that have been offered to me, you must already have a job in order to be hired, because vacataires are only paid every 6 months. (Yes, sometimes you must have a job in order to get a job in France.) My only option now is to wait to see if there are any open English assistant positions at high schools in the area, but I have to wait until the original assistant assigned to the school has resigned or just doesn’t show up by October 15.

Luckily I still have one more month of paid vacation so I have some time to figure things out. Teaching English is really the only job I can get in France since I’m not an EU citizen and don’t have a degree earned from a French university. In all honesty, I would much rather teach French than English, but that’s not going to happen in France. I’ll probably start a French as a Second Language page so I can upload lessons and materials for French teachers to use, and I’ll work on creating more audio flashcards and exercises to go along with the tutorials.

For more information on the English assistant program in the French public school system, read the Guide for English Language Assistants in France. If you’re interested in working at a university in France, then check out How to Become a Lecteur/Lectrice d’Anglais or Maître de Langue at a French University.

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  • Bob

    Bonne chance

    I have been enjoying your blog. I have also been thinking about being an ESL teacher part time. I would probably have to start as a volunteer since I don’t have a teaching degree; but, I have tutored math since high school and enjoy it.

  • Zhu

    Planning lessons take an insane amount of time. I used to spend my WE designing plans… Who said teachers were lazy?!

  • Andrew

    I’ve heard that it’s so terribly difficult to get a job in France because the government has made it extremely difficult to fire someone once you have hired them. What do you think about that? Is that true?


  • Jennie Wagner

    Yeah, it depends on the type of job you have though. There are basically two: CDD (short-term contracts) and CDI (contracts that have no end). Most companies prefer to hire people on CDDs because then if it doesn’t work out, they know the person will be done at a certain time anyway and they don’t have to offer a new contract. It’s a bit hard to get a CDI since it’s harder for the company to fire you, yet you need a CDI to buy a house or sometimes even to rent an apartment. It’s really frustrating to know that you will be unemployed every few months or every year because employers won’t give you a CDI.

    Another big problem is that almost all jobs require a certain diploma/degree earned from a French university, so if you don’t have that diploma (or haven’t done the internship that goes along with it), they won’t even interview you regardless of your previous work experience. That’s why it’s really hard for foreigners to get jobs, plus all of the decent-paying jobs are only for EU citizens anyway.

  • Jennie Wagner

    Me too! I spent all of my free time planning lessons and then half the time the classes never showed up!

  • Jennie Wagner

    You could volunteer at community centers or organizations that help immigrants. Having that experience will be much more rewarding than just taking courses to get certified to teach, and that way you will be better prepared to become a teacher. Good luck!

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.


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