Category Archives: Teaching English & Other Languages

I love technology, but I love it more when it actually works.

By   October 8, 2008

This week was the start of our language labs at the university (i.e. 9 out of 12 of my classes). They only run for 10 weeks, so we don’t start them when regular classes start. Unfortunately, our brand new computerized language lab is not working properly, so we can barely use it. Instead, we’re running almost all of the labs in our old cassette-based lab. But of course, the sudden change to cassettes means that some classes aren’t exactly prepared because we don’t have the correct tapes.

I was so excited for the new lab when I first heard about it since I love technology in language learning. Then the stupid wires had to get all fussy and not let the system work. I tried it yesterday with a Phonetics lab, but the program crashed 3 times in 5 minutes, so I just gave up and tried to run the hour as a regular “lecture” class, which is actually kind of difficult when the students are in their little cubicles.

I’ve been forced into the cassette lab for several of my classes, and surprisingly I like it. The teacher’s desk looks so old-school with all the buttons and lights, but it’s fun to play with and I know it will work. It may be a bit out-dated (there are still signs on the wall from 1992 that say the room was recently redone with the latest technology), but it sure is reliable. Until your master cassette breaks when you’re trying to do the copy for the students’ cabines

We aren’t sure yet if the new lab will be fixed for next week, but I honestly wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t.

It’s been an interesting week.

I want to be a lectrice forever.

By   September 29, 2008

I love my job!

I work with three classes in the labs: Vocabulary, Pronunciation and Business English. In all of them, I can spy on the students with my headset and make sure they are actually doing the lessons and using English. (I have ALL the power!!!) For vocab class, I’m redoing the weekly HTML lessons with a new style sheet, graphics and layout as well as adding mp3s for all of the main words. The pronunciation class is all IPA goodness. And the business English class is also a translation course so it gives me a chance to learn business French. Basically, I’m in geeky English-French technology-based language-teaching-and-learning heaven.

Even the commute isn’t bad because I get to drive next to this pretty lake 4 days a week.

Life is good.

Free English lessons for French students

By   September 3, 2008

BBC reports:The main teaching union in France has criticised the education minister’s plans to offer free English classes in the school holidays next year.

Xavier Darcos announced the plans on Monday, insisting that speaking fluent English was the key to success.

He said that while “well-off families pay for study sessions abroad, I’m offering them to everyone right here”.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is likely to back the plan.

He has already infuriated traditionalists by suggesting that the French should no longer insist on speaking their own language at international negotiations.

Interesting… I wonder who will be teaching these courses and where the government will get money to pay the teachers…

CAPES d’Anglais 2009

By   July 30, 2008

David has decided to prepare for the CAPES d’anglais! Normally, in order to become an English teacher for l’Education Nationale in France, students do a Licence in English for 3 years and then go to an IUFM (teacher training college) where they prepare for the CAPES for a year and then do their student teaching if they pass the oral and written exams. [This will change in 2010; Sarko is getting rid of the IUFM and those who want to become teachers will have to do a Master’s, or Bac+5, instead.]

However, David has a Maîtrise in Sociology, and he’s doing to the distance-learning preparation courses through CNED. Apparently the CNED option is very good, so we’ll see if he can pull it off without having a Licence in English. And it helps that he lives with a native speaker of English who loves English grammar.

This year, the required literature is:

  • King Lear by Shakespeare
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

And the required civilization reading is:

  • L’empire de l’exécutif : la présidence des États-Unis de Franklin Roosevelt à George W. Bush (1933-2006)

So yay for the civilization part being American! I’ve only read King Lear so far, but don’t remember much since it was almost 10 years ago… Sorry, Mr. Fuller! But I will be reading the books as well. One of these days I may try the CAFEP, which is for private schools. (I can’t do the CAPES because I’m not an EU citizen.)

David was actually thinking about doing the CAFEP too, but there are only 60 spots open in all of France! Both concours are very competitive obviously, but at least with the CAPES there are more jobs (though increasingly less and less…) However, the bad thing about the CAPES is that if you pass, you must teach at the school where l’Education Nationale assigns you. You can’t really choose where you want to work. And if you are young, unmarried, with no children, you have fewer “points” than other candidates, which means you’re more likely to be sent to schools in Créteil and Versailles where no one else wants to work. David isn’t as young as other candidates, and being PACSed should give him some extra points, but I’m worried that he would be sent some place that I absolutely do not want to live, i.e. anywhere within 2 hours of Paris.

If anyone has advice for someone without a Licence in English, and what David should focus most on for the exams, please let me know.

How to Become a Lecteur/Lectrice d’Anglais or Maître de Langue at a French University

By   July 24, 2008

The English Assistantship is a great way for Anglophones to work in France and gain teaching experience in elementary or secondary schools, without necessarily having a university degree. However, if you are working towards or have a graduate degree and would like to teach English at a university in France, you can apply to be a lecteur/lectrice d’anglais or a maître de langue. The main difference between the two is that maîtres de langue work fewer hours overall (but in courses that usually require more preparation) and get paid more, but this job also requires a higher graduate degree. Previous teaching experience is always a plus, so being an English assistant is a good first step in order to become a lecteur/lectrice or maître de langue in France.

How to become a Lecteur/Lectrice d'Anglais or Maître de Langue at a French University

Lecteur/Lectrice d’Anglais Requirements:

– Native or near-native speaker of English
– Completed one year of a Master’s degree

Maître de Langue Requirements:

– Native or near-native speaker of English
– Master’s degree

The requirements for these positions changed in April 2013. The level of graduate study needed has been lowered (previously the lecteur position required a Master’s degree while the maître de langue position required one year of a PhD program).


Exchanges: Most of these positions are filled by students from Anglophone universities that have an exchange with the French university. However, many of these positions remain open because the exchange university has no one to send to France or because the exchange lecturer decides not to come to France after all. For example, Penn State has exchanges with universities in Lyon, Strasbourg and Montpellier and Ilinois Urbana-Champaign has exchanges with universities in Dijon, Metz, Liège, Poitiers and Lyon. For those looking to start graduate degrees soon and eventually teach in France, it might be worthwhile to check out the exchanges available since it’s easier to get a position this way.


Search: To find these jobs if you are not involved in an exchange program, you just need to look at the universities’ websites and see if they have any positions open. Often they are located under recrutement, postes à pourvoir, or emplois either on the main page or for example, on the LEA (Langues Etrangères Appliquées) page. Or if location doesn’t matter, you can simply search for lecteur de langue or lecteur d’anglais. Some job listings are in English, so you can also search for English lecturer or lectorship.


Applying: Usually all that’s required to apply is your CV and lettre de motivation (both in French), but you may need to send your university degrees as well as their certified translations in French as well. Some universities do interviews, while others hire directly from the CVs.


Deadline: Many universities require you to apply in the winter to start in the fall of the next year (either September 1st or October 1st), but some have much later application dates. I’ve seen anywhere from December 21 to June 15. If you find a job listing that is past the application deadline, you can still send your CV anyway in case the job is still open. The job I applied for had a deadline of March 15, and I sent my CV in June, so you really never know!


Visa: You do not normally need to already have the right to work in France, as most universities will provide you with the paperwork to obtain a work visa. Of course, this means paying for a return ticket home if you are already in France. Some universities specify in their job listings that they require EU citizenship or valid working papers.


Hours: Lecteurs work 300 hours of travaux pratiques (TP) per year, or possibly 200 hours of TP and 100 hours of travaux dirigés (TD). TP is generally labs/workshops/testing or other classes that require very little preparation, while TD refers to actual lectures, which obviously require more preparation. Maîtres de langue work 288 hours of TP or 192 hours of TD. For lecteur/lectrice positions, you should not be asked to work more than 100 TD hours per year. Some universities have been hiring lecteurs and forcing them to work 200 TD hours so they only have to pay the lecteur salary instead of the maître de langue salary. In January 2014, Heike Romoth published an article in SNESUP (page 17 in the PDF) criticizing this illegal practice. The official décret states that “Les lecteurs de langue étrangère assurent un service annuel en présence des étudiants de 300 heures de travaux pratiques. Leur service peut comporter des travaux dirigés sans que leur nombre d’heures annuelles de travaux dirigés puisse être supérieur à 100.”  If you are hired as a lecteur/lectrice, please make sure the university is not trying to take advantage of you. This has been a problem particularly at universities in and around Paris.


Length: 12 months – with paid vacations, of course, including July & August when you most likely won’t have to work at all. Supposedly, you can renew once if you are not from an exchange university, and twice if you are – but it is possible in some cases to work longer. You just need to ask the right people. Note that if you are not doing the exchange, you can only do two years total of either position (two years as a lecteur/lectrice or two years as a mâitre de langue) OR a combination of one year each (one year as a lecteur/lectrice and one year as a maître de langue). If you’ve already worked two years as a lecteur/lectrice, then you cannot be hired as a maître de langue for another two years.


Salary: Lecteurs earn about 1,210 € net each month [indice brut 340], while maîtres earn about 1,550 € net per month [indice brut 482].


Departments: If you are hired in the language department of your university, you’ll probably be working with strictly English classes. If you are hired in other departments, you may be working with a number of different disciplines and the English jargon required for them, i.e. medicine, law, engineering, etc. You may or may not have to create the curriculum. Each university is different, so there is no one job description that fits each position. Just as with the English assistantship, it all depends on your school and what they need.

For open positions for the 2015-2o16 academic year, please check here.

To see what was available in previous years, go here.


L’acquisition, l’avenir et l’argent

By   July 22, 2008

Not much has been happening in my life lately. I looked through the archives to remind myself of what was going on last July. Compared to one year ago, things are definitely much better. I have my residency card (good until May 2009), my French driver’s license (good until forever), and I have a job starting this fall. I still don’t have much money, but I have a feeling that will never change as long as I continue to live in France…

I know I haven’t posted about my job yet, but I will be a lectrice d’anglais at a nearby university beginning October 1st. I’m really excited already – I’ve been missing the university environment and being around linguists who see the value of phonetics in language acquisition. It’s finally forcing me out of the rut I’ve been in lately… not reading or studying anything. We’ve got so many books in our apartment that we need to buy another bookcase, yet I rarely read any of them.

This summer is also giving me an opportunity to be geeky about linguistics for another reason: Mélina. She’s only 3 weeks old, but I’ve already bought her a français-anglais imagier so she can start learning English. I’m going to record myself saying all the words so she can listen to the pronunciation when I’m not around. Children are like little sponges when it comes to languages, but it’s really amazing (and sad) that babies lose the ability to discriminate between sounds that do not exist in their parents’ language at only 6 months. Before that, they are able to hear the difference between sounds of all human languages. Must be nice.

And of course thinking about linguistics and my new job makes me think about the future and what exactly I want to do as a career. I can only be a lectrice for two years total in France (their rule, not mine), so I’ll have to find something else to do. I’m thinking about going back to school and getting a French diplôme either in tourism or translating. I suppose I could do my PhD in France as well, but I don’t know how easy it is to find a university teaching job afterwards. Sometimes I think I’d just love to work in a hotel in the south, so I can meet people from all over the world and speak several languages everyday.

So this is my summer. Thinking about linguistics, the future and my lack of money. A lot has changed in one year, but then again, a lot has stayed the same.