Que faire ? / What to do?

Peut-être avez-vous remarqué que je fais un effort pour parler (euh, écrire) plus en français. Maintenant que j’ai le droit de travailler dans ce pays, il faut trouver un boulot. Et pour trouver un boulot, il faut bien parler français !

Cependant, j’ai peur de ne pas réussir. Aux Etats-Unis, j’étais intelligente, brillante, sage… J’ai toujours eu de très bonnes notes. J’ai trouvé du travail facilement. Je pouvais faire ce que je voulais. Le fait que je parlais une deuxième langue était respectable. On était jaloux de moi et fier de moi au même temps.

En France, ou plutôt en Europe, je ne suis pas du tout exceptionnelle. Tout le monde se fout que je sois bilingue (ou presque) parce que tout le monde en Europe est bilingue. Je me sens stupide. Comment est-ce que je suis censé rivaliser avec quelqu’un qui parle courrament 3 ou 4 langues depuis son enfance ?

Ces derniers jours, j’ai pensé à retourner à l’université pour obtenir un diplôme français. Mais ayant déjà obtenu une license et une maîtrise aux Etats-Unis (plus de 6 ans d’études !), je n’ai aucune envie de redevenir étudiante.

Est-ce que je devrais continuer à enseigner l’anglais ? Ou est-ce que je devrais essayer de devenir traductrice ? Je n’en sais rien. Pourquoi personne ne veut me payer pour étudier les langues et pour voyager en Europe ? Ça serait génial…

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Maybe you’ve noticed that I’m making more of an effort to speak (uh, write) in French. Now that I have the right to work in this country, I have to find a job. And in order to find a job, I have to speak French well!

However, I’m afraid that I’m not going to succeed. In the US, I was intelligent, brilliant, wise… I always got good grades. I found work easily. I could do what I wanted. The fact that I spoke a second language was respectable. People were jealous of me and proud of me at the same time.

But in France, or rather in Europe, I’m nobody special. Nobody cares that I’m bilingual (or almost) because everyone in Europe is bilingual. I feel stupid. How am I supposed to compete with someone who grew up speaking 3 or 4 languages fluently?

These past few days, I thought about going back to college to get a French degree. But since I’ve already got a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in the US (more than 6 years of study!), I really don’t feel like becoming a student again.

Should I continue to teach English? Should I try to become a translator? I don’t know. Why can’t someone just pay me to learn languages and travel throughout Europe? That would be great…

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
0saves
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed.
  • Linda

    I’m amazed at all of the multi-lingual people in Europe. How I wish the States had done a better job at teaching more than English. Sigh.

  • Linda

    I’m amazed at all of the multi-lingual people in Europe. How I wish the States had done a better job at teaching more than English. Sigh.

  • The Late Bloomer

    Oh, how I can relate — truly! I, too, couldn’t see myself going back at this point to start over again for a master’s, even though I know it would be better recognized here in France, but I also couldn’t seem to get my act in order to work out the translating/interpreting route. I definitely think you should try pursuing that, although you may need some equivalencies along the way, depending on where you go to do a translating certification, etc… I don’t know very much about it because, again, I didn’t look into it as much as I should have — and to be honest, I know it’s never too late, but I’m just not sure when I’ll get my act in gear! With the baby on the way, I know I have other things to figure out for the moment, but I hope one day to get a clearer idea of where I’m going with my life!

    If you end up doing translating, what’s great about it is being able to do it freelance, and the flexibility of setting your own schedule. Of course, there are pros and cons to everything, so it would mean the lack of something steady or “regular”, so to speak. Then again, if you get a kind of certification, you could probably do translating for a company, or even get a job as a translator within a company… There are many, many possibilities!

    Hang in there; I’m sure you’ll figure it out — you have the whole future ahead of you! :-)

    And I think your French is excellent — as many supposed multilinguals as there are in Europe, reassure yourself that it’s not often that people have really, really strong, solid skills in one particular language (particularly both written and spoken). They may get by in several languages pretty well, but being solidly bilingual is not as common as one might think. (At least I like to try to tell myself this when I need to be reassured!)

  • The Late Bloomer

    Oh, how I can relate — truly! I, too, couldn’t see myself going back at this point to start over again for a master’s, even though I know it would be better recognized here in France, but I also couldn’t seem to get my act in order to work out the translating/interpreting route. I definitely think you should try pursuing that, although you may need some equivalencies along the way, depending on where you go to do a translating certification, etc… I don’t know very much about it because, again, I didn’t look into it as much as I should have — and to be honest, I know it’s never too late, but I’m just not sure when I’ll get my act in gear! With the baby on the way, I know I have other things to figure out for the moment, but I hope one day to get a clearer idea of where I’m going with my life!If you end up doing translating, what’s great about it is being able to do it freelance, and the flexibility of setting your own schedule. Of course, there are pros and cons to everything, so it would mean the lack of something steady or “regular”, so to speak. Then again, if you get a kind of certification, you could probably do translating for a company, or even get a job as a translator within a company… There are many, many possibilities!Hang in there; I’m sure you’ll figure it out — you have the whole future ahead of you! :-)And I think your French is excellent — as many supposed multilinguals as there are in Europe, reassure yourself that it’s not often that people have really, really strong, solid skills in one particular language (particularly both written and spoken). They may get by in several languages pretty well, but being solidly bilingual is not as common as one might think. (At least I like to try to tell myself this when I need to be reassured!)

  • Susan

    I know EXACTLY how you feel. People tell me all the time how they don’t speak English, or that their English isn’t good. But they tell me IN ENGLISH after having a whole conversation. Uhh. I am petrified because I am in the process of learning French as a true newbie and all I hear/read about is how hard the language is. I don’t think I will ever be able to work in France. I will probably have to work in Brussels. I used to be special too, selling millions of dollars of software integration. Now I cry when the butcher yells at me for not ordering the right way!
    You will figure it out. At least you know what you love. You have a passion, an education AND someone who loves you (your French Fella). Keep searching and asking the hard questions and eventually you will figure it out.
    Actually, that might be crap advice. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up and I’m 36. But I have never been as passionate about any type of work as much as it seems you are passionate about languages. So maybe it’s not such crap after all…
    Man. After re-reading this I’m even more scared. I can hardly write English, how am I going to tackle French!?

  • Susan

    I know EXACTLY how you feel. People tell me all the time how they don’t speak English, or that their English isn’t good. But they tell me IN ENGLISH after having a whole conversation. Uhh. I am petrified because I am in the process of learning French as a true newbie and all I hear/read about is how hard the language is. I don’t think I will ever be able to work in France. I will probably have to work in Brussels. I used to be special too, selling millions of dollars of software integration. Now I cry when the butcher yells at me for not ordering the right way! You will figure it out. At least you know what you love. You have a passion, an education AND someone who loves you (your French Fella). Keep searching and asking the hard questions and eventually you will figure it out.Actually, that might be crap advice. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up and I’m 36. But I have never been as passionate about any type of work as much as it seems you are passionate about languages. So maybe it’s not such crap after all…Man. After re-reading this I’m even more scared. I can hardly write English, how am I going to tackle French!?

  • Le Tigre in France

    I’m so excited because I could understand 98 percent of what you wrote without consulting the dictionary or reading English translation below (until after).

    What about being a bi-lingual secretary? Whilst many French people can speak English they can’t write it at all, so native speakers are pretty valuable for those roles I think. Finding a job in France does seem very daunting..in fact I guess it doesn’t seem daunting, it just IS daunting. But I think you underestimate your abilities and yourself. To quote a much quoted tv series “your fabulousness will translate”. Or as we say in Australia “You’ll be right”.

    No chance you can apply for the job in Rennes?

    Or what about starting up your own business teaching english over skype? I know you don’t like charging people to learn languages though, but a girl’s gotta eat right?

  • Le Tigre in France

    I’m so excited because I could understand 98 percent of what you wrote without consulting the dictionary or reading English translation below (until after). What about being a bi-lingual secretary? Whilst many French people can speak English they can’t write it at all, so native speakers are pretty valuable for those roles I think. Finding a job in France does seem very daunting..in fact I guess it doesn’t seem daunting, it just IS daunting. But I think you underestimate your abilities and yourself. To quote a much quoted tv series “your fabulousness will translate”. Or as we say in Australia “You’ll be right”. No chance you can apply for the job in Rennes? Or what about starting up your own business teaching english over skype? I know you don’t like charging people to learn languages though, but a girl’s gotta eat right?

  • Liz

    I agree with le tigre… remember that you speak and write native English – and this is a huge advantage on your side.

    Could you do translations? I just ran the Annecy Marathon & their English website was horribly translated.

  • Liz

    I agree with le tigre… remember that you speak and write native English – and this is a huge advantage on your side. Could you do translations? I just ran the Annecy Marathon & their English website was horribly translated.

  • Jennie

    Thanks for the support, everyone. I do want to become a translator, I just haven’t figured out all the details yet. And it is a big advantage that I speak English as a native language. I need to start thinking in those terms, not in the “but I don’t feel completely fluent in French yet” terms because I’d be doing translations from French into English.

    LOL at the Annecy marathon site. What a horrible translation.

  • Jennie

    Thanks for the support, everyone. I do want to become a translator, I just haven’t figured out all the details yet. And it is a big advantage that I speak English as a native language. I need to start thinking in those terms, not in the “but I don’t feel completely fluent in French yet” terms because I’d be doing translations from French into English.LOL at the Annecy marathon site. What a horrible translation.

  • Zhu

    I’m one of these weirdo who speak 3/4 languages :D

    Don’t be self-conscious, most people don’t speak the foreign languages they learned that well. I learned it the hard way when I first came to Canada and thought my English was perfect cause I was always getting 19/20 at school test :D ) et je trouvais ça vraiment ennuyant… Pas mon truc!

    As-tu essayé d’être traductrice? C’est une job un peu spéciale… je l’ai fait en Chinois/ Français (told you, 100% multilingual European! :D

  • Zhu

    I’m one of these weirdo who speak 3/4 languages :D Don’t be self-conscious, most people don’t speak the foreign languages they learned that well. I learned it the hard way when I first came to Canada and thought my English was perfect cause I was always getting 19/20 at school test :D ) et je trouvais ça vraiment ennuyant… Pas mon truc!As-tu essayé d’être traductrice? C’est une job un peu spéciale… je l’ai fait en Chinois/ Français (told you, 100% multilingual European! :D

  • Noelia

    I’m surprised each time that I hear “everybody in Europe speaks 3 to 4 languages fluently”… Amongst my French friends I am an exception (I speak 5), I know one friend who speaks 3 languages. The other ones think I am really special! ;-)

    So, Jennie, you ARE special too! And I think you should try to because translator (I’m surprised that you can’t find a job teaching English… As a native speaker I would think that the doors would be wide open to you in all those private schools like Berlitz and stuff!) :-)

    Go girl! :-D

  • Noelia

    I’m surprised each time that I hear “everybody in Europe speaks 3 to 4 languages fluently”… Amongst my French friends I am an exception (I speak 5), I know one friend who speaks 3 languages. The other ones think I am really special! ;-)So, Jennie, you ARE special too! And I think you should try to because translator (I’m surprised that you can’t find a job teaching English… As a native speaker I would think that the doors would be wide open to you in all those private schools like Berlitz and stuff!) :-) Go girl! :-D

  • Soulamouse

    Hey Jennie,I must say that over the past four years of university (studying languagess..) I have started to hate translation…I am sure you do it from time to time but to me it seems frustrating to be sitting in front of PC without communicating…etc etc…Have you ever tried it for a longer period?? (I had to…and found myself having a serious blues:)And in France, very few people spoke intelligible English to me…:))) Where do you meet these multilingual individuals?:)))

  • shuchan

    Hi,

    Je suis une étudiante. J’apprends le français maintenant. Mais je ne parle pas ou écrire le français très bien. Parce que je ne suis pas très assidu (pas du tout en fait). Donc, je peux parler un peu français(mais . Ma langue maternelle est le chinois. Et je parle aussi Enlish (of course).
    I actually hope to study more languages, but not hardworking enough. Et sans doute je ne suis pas doué pour les langues.

    For a translator, I’m not sure. But do you need that many years of schooling to be one? Well, I’m not saying it’s not or something. I’m just curious. To me, being a translator can be quite fun sometimes. Because you can understand what other don’t.
    bonne chance

    PS: Je pense que je devrais avoir beaucoup d’erreurs pour mon français et peut-être aussi anglais.
    Because I do not really use British or American English daily. It’s rather Singlish.(heard before, if not u can google it, ha) I used to speak American English for a while, but it changed. And my teacher did tell us that we should not use ‘and’, ‘because’ and ‘but’ at the beginning of the sentence. Is that so?
    Well, c’est un peu trop long pour un post-scriptum.(what is well en français? just bien?)

Search this Site

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 January 2010, I started focusing more on teaching and learning languages in general. 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 the university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling (though now my trips are usually in Australia) and being an American abroad.

Stay Connected

Facebook

Buy My French Books

My Say it in French phrasebook and Great French Short Stories dual-language book (both published by Dover Publications) are available at Amazon.com.

The 2nd edition of French Language Tutorial is now available as a PDF book. It has been updated with much more vocabulary, sample sentences, and cultural information, plus extended vocabulary lists, cross-referenced topics, and an alphabetical index.

Visit the Store to buy the PDF e-book for $14.95 or paperback book for $29.95.

Languages

     

Google Ads