Teaching English, translating or interpreting in France

Teaching English, translating or interpreting in France

Although France is a big country, globally there’s only an estimated 129 million French speakers. What this means is that most switched on French parents want their offspring to speak another language and most business owners now realise that they are limiting their potential if they’re communicating in French only.

With just over a quarter of the world’s population communicating online in English, there’s no getting away from the fact that if you want a piece of the global action, that’s the language of choice and more and more French people are realising this. What this means is that if you are a native English-speaker who also speaks French, you have great potential to make income for your new life in France.

There are three key ways that you can do this. The first is by teaching English, the second is by translating and the third, by interpreting. Although for the latter two, an excellent command of French is a pre-requisite, for the first, it’s arguably better if your French isn’t all that great.

Teach English as a Foreign Language in France

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) today, in many ways, is easier than it has ever been. It’s now possible to obtain a recognised TEFL qualification online for a very affordable sum, or alternatively if you are close to one of the TEFL training centres, you can opt for a classroom based experience. With prices from only a couple of hundred pounds, TEFL is one of the world’s most recognisable language qualifications and allows you to obtain everything from a basic grounding in teaching English, through to specialising in teaching business English or teaching English to children. When you enroll for a TEFL course, you get all you need to achieve a certificate in your chosen level.

Once you have your TEFL certificate, all you need is an open and inventive mind in order to track down students. If you choose to invest in a property in or close to one of the major cities in France, there is likely to be a whole host of possibilities, but even if you’re ‘out in the sticks’, you’ll find that there are parents of children of all ages who are keen to invest in improving their kids’ English. If you work with one of the language centres in a large city, you’ll either be employed on a freelance or salaried basis. If you decide to work to support children with their school English lessons, you are most likely to be successful by either working on a freelance basis, backed by either an Auto Entrepreneur business status or on a Chèque Emploi Service Universelle (CESU) basis.

Working as a translator in France

As more and more businesses in France are seeking to work on a global platform, there are more and more translating opportunities. Translation work takes many forms and might be working on an ad hoc basis for a local business that needs documents translated from time to time, or could be setting yourself up as a fully fledged translator in either a specialist or generalist area.

In France there is also the opportunity to become an “official” translator whereby you are authorised to translate official documents such as birth and marriage certificates, as well as court documents. While this type of translation work is much more structured and highly paid, it is only a selected few who gain this opportunity, so perhaps don’t hold out on this as a solution.

Interpretation as a way to make a living in France

Again, if your French is pretty much fluent and you’re a good listener and communicator, there are sure to be opportunities to make income as an interpreter. Even small, rural businesses are now realising the potential of hosting visits from foreign potential buyers and will need support in communicating with these people. Small vineyards for example, are now welcoming Japanese and Chinese potential clients and the common language is English. What this means is that you’d be working with the French business, to interpret their presentation and perhaps sales message or pitch to these foreign clients. As a result, you’d need specialist vocabulary and a bit of a marketing mind in order to get a good outcome.

While none of these opportunities are likely to make you rich in France, if you have a business mind and are motivated, there are certainly opportunities to sniff out work. In order to help you promote yourself, you should organise as an absolute minimum:

A sales letter or letter of motivation. In order to promote yourself to businesses in any one of these three categories of work, you will need to put together an engaging and convincing sales letter or letter of motivation (in French of course). Once you have done this, you will be able to select businesses or potential employers that you can send it to.
A CV. While not all of these opportunities will require a CV at prospecting level, a strong, well written French CV will be very useful in convincing potential clients or employers that you’re the right person for the job.
Business cards/leaflets/post cards for shop windows. It is important to have marketing collateral to promote your business. In this day and age, you should be able to order all you need online at very low cost.
A basic website. Most business customers expect a website these days and if you’re setting yourself up to either teach English or as a translator or interpreter, it’s well worth investing the time to get this right. A website needn’t cost a fortune (in fact there are plenty of free options now) but it’s well worth investing time and effort on getting the content spot-on.

If you’re thinking of moving to France to work or to retire, why not get in touch? At My-French-House, we have years of experience in helping people make the move a huge success and we can help you get started on the right foot.