It was around this time during my assistant year that I determinedly decided that I wanted to stay in France, and that I was going to try to become a lectrice. I have been (happily!) receiving similar inquiries from eager expats about how to have the best chances at obtaining a position. So, below is my step-by-step process of what I did in order to prepare, search, and obtain a lectrice position.
1. Get your University Diploma(s) Officially Translated! Most lecteur positions require all of the same documents as assistants, but I guarantee that they will also require your university diplomas. Do it early and make plenty of copies, so it is finished and ready to send off when jobs start to pop up around the internet.
2. Write Your CV and Lettre de Motivation in French! This process alone took me over a month. Be sure to spend a decent amount of time on it. The French style is extremely different from the American resume and it can be difficult to decide what to include and what to eliminate. I highly recommend having colleagues/teachers at your school, French friends, French roommates, or basically any native speaker look over and correct your CV and cover letter. Do internet research for key phrases used in professional French documents, and ask others for various samples or examples if you are at a loss as to where to start. Your CV and Lettre de Motivation will be the most important aspects of your applications. Most importantly, be sure to tailor both your CV and lettre de motivation to EACH university you apply to! The French cover letter format is also different from the US & UK styles (ie: sender’s address goes on the bottom left, receiver’s address on the top right, signature goes on the right) so verify you are using the correct format!
3. Start networking! There are much fewer lecteur positions than assistant positions, and many of them are never advertised! Use the who-you-know technique to your advantage in order to find vacant positions! It was actually through of a friend I met through the Blogging and Twitter world that I found and applied for my position in the first place. Even if it is only a friend of a friend of a friend or someone with whom you’ve only connected on social media, it can’t hurt to send a tweet or private message! The other faculties at the university where I work solely use the who-you-know technique in order to pass on the positions as well!
4. Start researching and brainstorming! Besides networking, start compiling a list of regions or specific cities and even universities that interest you!
5. Vigorously Start Searching and Applying! During the months of late February, March, and April, I was doing constant Google searches for lecteur positions, and applying to any position for which I qualified. I recommend using both Google.com and Google.fr, in case the position is only in one language versus another. Additionally, my friend Jennifer at ielanguages.com posts all of the positions she can find every year! The 2016-2017 positions are currently being updated here, the 2015-2016 positions can be found here, and the 2014-2015 positions can be found here. I used her website as well as her Twitter Feed religiously while searching– they were my biggest resources!
If you have specific universities in mind, simply search their websites and see if they have any vacancies to fill. Be sure to look for links or tabs such as recrutement, postes, or emplois either on their home page or Langues Etrangères pages. If the universities you are interested in do not have any vacancies, send them your CV anyways!
6. Interviews! Take any interviews you receive, and come to them prepared! Do some research about the school, the English department, the lecteur position, etc. as well as prepare some questions before your actual interview! Interviews can vary greatly! For example, I had first a phone interview and then a Skype interview for my position. But, many universities may request in-person interviews!
Your interview may or may not be in English or French. My interviews were both in English because my boss is British and the person I replaced is American, so it was just more natural for us. But, MANY other departments conduct their interviews solely in French. Additionally, some (read: many) universities offer lecteur positions solely based off your CV and cover letter without interviewing you (I had one other offer without an interview). However with such recent increased competitiveness, many universities are now requesting further interview materials, such as lesson plans and/or portfolios.
Do research about the school, the languages department, etc. with whom you’re interviewing. Some of the questions that came up on my interview included,
- Tell me about your current job/most recent teaching experience and what do you like best about it?
- Why do you want to work as a lecteur/lectrice at our school?
- What do you know about our school?
- Tell me about your recent lessons.
- How would you describe your ideal classroom?
- What kind of English do you think engineering students need ?
- What are your experiences with mixed ability classes?
- What is most important thing an English teacher should keep in mind when planning lessons?
- How are you going to deal with the fact that you and your students are close in age?
- What is your classroom management style?
- How do you feel about working in teams?
- Have you applied to other positions?
- What is the best way to teach a second language?
Other Tips / Advice
7. Most lecteur positions want you to be at least working on a Master’s Degree, or have the equivalent to Bac + 4. Even if you don’t have any Master’s credits (I don’t), apply anyways. A Bachelor’s Degree is sometimes considered and accepted, especially if you have relevant language or teaching experience.
8. If you already have a Master’s Degree or more (ie: PhD. credits), search and apply for Maître de Langue positions as well. You have more responsibilities than as a lecteur, but with a more prestigious title, fewer hours, and higher pay (oh, France!)
9. Even if the application deadline has passed, send your application materials anyways. You never know what could happen!
10. Personalize any email you send along with your application materials to the person in charge. (Hint: You may need to do some research to figure this out.) It WILL make a difference!
11. Some universities may request you to send paper copies of your application. If this is the case, I recommend you do so via lettre recommandée avec avis de réception, to ensure it arrives.
12. Some universities may require additional documents with your application. Make sure you read the requirements carefully and send everything they ask for. Some of the positions I applied for required recordings of myself in French and English, lesson plan samples, and several passport photos!
13. Even if the universities you are interested in do not have any positions posted, send them your application materials regardless, and then follow up with an email or phone call a few days or weeks later. Again, you never know what can happen! (This is called candidature spontanée!)
14. Use the who-you-know advantage. Network. Think outside the box. Be willing to re-locate to a new area of France.
15. Try to see if your university has any exchanges with a university in France. Many times, these are how lecteurs positions are filled, and hence never advertised or open to the public.
16. Especially if your interviews are in French, brush up on your professional, educational, and business vocabulary!
17. Stay positive! Don’t be surprised or disappointed if you never hear back from some of the universities to which you apply! I sent approximately 15 applications over the course of two months, and never heard back from most. In the end, I had three declines, three interviews, and two offers– and DEFINITELY ended up in the BEST possible position I could have imagined! I am so happy!
If you don’t end up securing a position, you can try to renew as an assistant again. As of 2015, the CIEP has re-opened up the opportunity for English Assistants to renew. Click here for the CIEP link to the renewal page.
Please do not hesitate to email me or comment with any questions, concerns, or other advice! Bonne Chance!