Since changing jobs and locations in France, I am often asked a derivative of the following question from various friends, family members, or curious assistants themselves: “What do you do as a lectrice, and how does it differ from being an assistant?”
Well, long story short, you work in a university instead of with K-12 students, you work more hours, the contract is longer, you have more responsibilities, and you are paid a higher salary. However, positions are few and far between, and most of the time you are left completely on your own. Here is the long answer:
1. Contract: The lecteur contract is one year, from September until August of the following year. However, you may renew your contract for a second year. As a lecteur, you are paid for all twelve months, even when you are not working in the summer. In comparison, assistants are given a seven-month contract, from October through April of the following year. Americans can do the assistantship program twice, but not two years in a row, and are not guaranteed a placement the second time around.
2. Salary: Lecteurs are paid about 1227€ net per month, whereas assistants are paid 795€ net per month.
3. Hours Worked: Lecteurs either work 200 hours TD or 300 hours TP annually (simply put, depending on your contract, between 200-300 hours per year.) Assistants work 12 hours per week. For my situation, I am under a 200 TD contract, meaning that I teach 200 hours per year, and then of course do preparation, planning, collaboration, and grading on my own time. I also had the opportunity to teach heures supplémentaires, or overtime. I will get paid extra for these hours.
4. Vacation: This may vary by schools and universities, but lecteurs are given one week of vacation in October and February/March, and two weeks in December and April/May. Lecteurs work through the month of June. Assistants, on the other hand, have two weeks of vacation in October, December, February/March, and April/May. Their contract concludes on April 30th.
5. Responsibilities: Generally, lecteurs are responsible for planning and executing their own curriculums. They may or may not have resources in place to help guide them along. Lecteurs are also responsible for giving evaluations and grades. Assistants are not allowed to grade or give evaluations. They are also not able to take more than 15 students at a time. Some assistants plan whatever they would like for teaching, while others are given resources by their colleagues. (For the record, I had a mixture of both scenarios as an assistante.)
6. Program Support: Lecteurs are largely on their own. There is no orientation, nor is there the organized TAPIF-Program-with-Carolyn-Collins-as-your-lifeline equivalent (for Americans). You really have to be willing to figure everything out solo. I’m lucky to have had other lecteurs to befriend at my university. That’s not always the case for everyone, however.
7. Visa: the visa process is exactly the same for both positions– one is just longer than the other. When you renew, you can do so directly from France, but it is you who is responsible for being the renewal tax (106 euros).
8. Students: Lecteurs work with university students–adults. Assistants are placed in primary, middle, high schools, and BTS Programs.
9. Available Positions: My friend Jennie is very good at finding lecteur positions and posting them on her website. Last year, I think there were about 25 publicized lecteur positions online. However, there are others that are reserved for people doing university exchanges. Some lecteurs got their feet in the door via people they knew.
My role as a lectrice is quite unique. At the Université de Valenciennes, there are four different schools who hire lecteurs–thirteen in total. I am the only lectrice in my department. I work alongside two other colleagues, both of whom are certified teachers in France. I teach Business English to prépa (undergraduate students), first and third year Master’s in Engineering Students, and non-traditional students. My majority of my students range between 18-25 years old (some older). Our lessons are very business-English oriented, as well as TOEIC preparation (the English competency exam they must pass at the beginning of the year.) I’m also in charge of grading my students on exams and presentations.
So far, I have immensely enjoyed this experience, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Plus, I have a pretty sweet office.
Any other questions? Leave a comment below.