Lecteur Lesson / TAPIF Tip: How to Increase Your Chances of Being Hired for a Lecteur/Lectrice Position

When I first began applying for lectrice positions two years ago, It was NOT possible for English assistants to renew their assistant contracts. Knowing that becoming a lectrice was basically my only option for staying in France, I spent countless hours networking, working on my CV and cover letters, and sending applications to nearly twenty universities. And I am thankful to this day that my hard work paid off. 

Let’s fast forward two years: It is 2016, I am at the end of my two-year non-renewable contract, which means that there will be a new lecteur/lectrice taking over my position next year. So, during the past couple of weeks, I had the chance to be on the other side of the hiring process, and help my colleagues sort through CVs and interview candidates for my position. 

And you guys, competition is fiercer than ever. For my position, in the middle-of-nowhere Northern France, we received over 65 applications. (I can’t even imagine how intense and competitive the hiring process is in Paris.) These positions have become super competitive and super popular over the past few years. I’m not sure if the popularity has to do with the increased awareness about the fact that they exist (i.e. the Internet, blogs, Facebook pages, etc.), or if it’s just because people are desperate now more than ever to work in France and stay abroad, and a lecteur position is one of the best and easiest ways to do that. Perhaps it is a combination of both.

I am now someone who has been both sides of the lecteur/lectrice interview/hiring process; I also train and prepare my French students for interviews and internship hiring. So, I have created a few tips for those aspiring lecteur/lectrice candidates whom are applying for positions in hoping to get an interview, or whom have successfully gotten interviews. But first, if you haven’t yet, please read my previous post regarding general tips on how to become a Lecteur/Lectrice here.

Specific Tips for Landing an Interview

1. Send your CV and cover letter in French. As I stated above, we received over 65 applications from aspiring candidates. CVs take a lot of time to sort through, and cover letters even longer. Our job posting (as did almost every other posting I came across) asked candidates to send their CV and cover letters in French. Nonetheless, several applicants (including several whom were otherwise very qualified) sent some or all of their documents in English. I must persist, if you currently work in France or aspire to work in France, send your application materials in French, unless the post asks specifically for them in English. This is the first opportunity you have to demonstrate your skills and ability to follow directions. Candidates who failed to send all French documents were eliminated; if you can’t follow simple directions, how is a company supposed to trust you to be competent enough to do the job?

2. Don’t list “TAPIF” on your French CV. No one outside of the United States will know what “TAPIF” is. We saw this a thousand times and it was only because I was an American that I knew what it meant. Say something along the lines of “Assistant(e) de Langue à Lycée/College/Ecole Primaire xxx- Education Nationale.”

3. Read All of The Directions. If the advertisement asks for your documents to be sent in French, you must send them in French. If the job advertisement asks you to address your cover letter to a specific person or people, address your cover letter to that specific person or those specific people. If the application asks you to also submit this or that, be sure to submit this or that. Again, attention to detail says a lot! Recruiters will not have time track down applicants and ask for x additional document– they will simply eliminate the applicant.

4. Network. I landed an interview for my current position because I networked and spoke to the right people (on Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging World nonetheless). Although I got the job on my own merit, by networking, I got my name to stand out in a large pile of applicants. Tip: People (including myself) pay it forward.

5. Get your French M1 (one year of post-graduate studies): Unfortunately, the 2013 rule of lecteurs needing a Bac +4 to qualify for the position (one year of post graduate studies, even though an American Bachelor’s Degree takes four years) isn’t going away– it’s just becoming more and more enforced. I have a Bachelor’s Degree and Teacher’s Certification from Wisconsin with no Master’s Credits. I was fortunate enough to slip through the cracks, and have my teacher’s certification count as a year of post-graduate studies; I was extremely lucky. However, if your aspirations are to stay in France and become a lecteur, I recommend either having Master’s credits / a Master’s Degree before applying, or enrolling in a Master’s program before applying (perhaps if you do two years as an assistant, enroll in French university during your second year, even if it is only just to get an M1 and qualify for a lecteur position.) This is a rule that I (and my colleagues) absolutely disagree with, but unfortunately France prefers paper qualifications over experience. It is heartbreaking having to say “No” to otherwise very qualified individuals because a Bachelor’s Degree is no longer enough. And while it MAY still be possible to slip through the cracks at some universities, this is what is going to increase your chances now.

6. Gain Teaching Experience: Remember, this is a teaching position. Even if France is obsessed with pieces of paper over competencies, we still want candidates with teaching experience. If you don’t have any, get some. Enroll in a CELTA or TEFL course, seek other opportunities outside the assistantship; take classes online. Nowadays, the majority of successful candidates have teaching experience (in addition to the assistant program).

7. Make Your CV and Cover Letter Appealing: The average recruiter glances at a CV or resume for an average of seven seconds before deciding “Yes” or “No.” If the CV is difficult to read, or is unorganized, it’s going to be a no. If there are typos, or things are unclear, it’s going to be a no. Additionally- be sure to research the layout of a French CV. It is not the same as an American resume translated into French.

As for cover letters, be sure to also remember that a layout for a French cover letter is different than a layout for an American and for a British cover letter. In France, the sender goes on the top left, and the person to whom you’re sending the letter goes underneath, but on the right side, along with the date and the city below that. Finally, your signature is also on the right side of the cover letter in French. This didn’t make a difference in the selection process, but having the correct format for the correct country makes a huge difference, and shows you pay attention to detail. This information may be useful especially if you’re applying to more competitive regions (ie: Paris). Finally, make sure your cover letter demonstrates your motivations for the job– remember, it’s about the university, not you. What are YOU going to bring to the school and the students?

8. If you have a Master’s Degree, consider Maître de Langue positions. They are paid more, plus there are fewer applicants. You’ve got less competition.

9. Follow up with the applications you submitted. As I said, competition is fierce. Applications get lost in the shuffle; people get buried at the bottom. Follow up to remind people you exist. I promise it helps.

10. Apply to universities even if they haven’t listed an opening. You never know.

You’ve Gotten an Interview- CONGRATULATIONS! Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for a Successful Lecteur/Lectrice Interview:

  1. Research the school. Research the department. Research the curriculum. Research your colleagues. Find out whatever you can! Where is it located, how many students are there? What are the subjects you can study at this university? We eliminated candidates immediately if they had done zero research on our establishment. And believe me, it was obvious and it shows. Doing so demonstrates interest, commitment, and professionalism. Don’t make this easily avoidable mistake!
  2. Find out if your Interview is in English or French. If it’s in French, brush up on your French interviewing skills and business/education-related vocabulary. You’ll thank me later!
  3. Dress Up for the Interview, even if it’s over Skype. It shows your professionalism!
  4. Research interview questions asked during teaching-based interviews: Do you know a teacher, or fellow lecteur/lectrice? Get your hands on some example questions, or do a quick Google search. If you’ve never had an interview for teaching before, it’s easy to be thrown off guard with the questions. Go into your interview feeling prepared!
  5. If your interview is over the phone, be sure you are interviewing in a quiet place. I cannot begin to tell you the impression you give off if you answer your phone for an interview in the middle of a busy street.
  6. Make Sure Your Motivations for the Position are Sincere. Do you want to work as a lecteur/lectrice at x university, or do you simply want to do whatever it takes to stay in France, and at any cost? Recruiters can see the difference.
  7. Ask questions at the end of the interview. Doing so shows you’re prepared, interested, and motivated. Ask questions regarding the school, the students, responsibilities, etc. Again, it’s about the school and their needs, not yours!
  8. Send a Thank-you card or Email. This is VERY American, but it’s appreciated all the same (I promise!)

Fellow and past lecteurs/lectrices (or Maître de Langues), do you have any tips to add?

Bisous,

Dana

40 thoughts on “Lecteur Lesson / TAPIF Tip: How to Increase Your Chances of Being Hired for a Lecteur/Lectrice Position

  1. Dana, your blog is amazing, wonderful, such a joy to read–it’s perfect. And it describes a path I might have taken many years ago… Anyway, hope you don’t mind my request for advice: I live/work in California, have a PhD in kinesiology, did an internship at U de Poitiers 25 years ago, taught a few years of college, still keep in touch with friends in France, married and 58 years old. Do you think I wouldn’t stand much chance for a post as lecteur/Maitre de langue because of my age? Thanks!

    1. Hi there–

      I admit, France can be quite ageist in regards to the lecteur or Maître status. With your experience and qualifications I would jump directly to Maître— Most lecteurs are In their twenties but maîtres will be a bit older because you need more qualifications… plus the pay is better!

      I would say sky’s the limit– GO for it! Otherwise, try for contractuel positions, which are usually more work / hrs but slightly increased pay. You could also look into international schools. In any case– be persistent in your search! Good luck!

  2. Hey Dana,
    It’s your fave person again (me, Megan) lol. I have a question- I know have my Master’s completed (equivalent to a French M2) and while I didn’t get a position this year, I have my eyes set on one for next year. I’m also going to consider the CELTA. What do you think is the difference between that and the TEFL? CELTA is going to be really pricy for me, but I could start it in October here in San Diego (well I’m 60mi from there so I’d have to commute about an hour each way…). Thanks so much…as usual, you’re super helpful and I’m grateful that you take the time for us lowly people w/o CDIs and teaching jobs in France 😉 hahaha! Bonne soirée.
    Bisous,
    Megan

    1. Hey! I know a CELTA is recognized everywhere and considered the most “prestigious” but there are some really good TEFL courses out there too (just make sure you research their validity!) CELTA was created and recognized by Cambridge Uni in the UK 🙂

  3. Hi Dana,
    I’m going to be a teaching assistant this fall, and I’m so glad I found your blog- it’s so full of helpful resources and information! Thank you for sharing all of this! What are your plans for after your lectrice contract expires?

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for reading! I’ll be staying in France and working at an international school- ironically just posted about it on the blog 🙂

  4. Another thing (oh gosh sorry)- I haven’t received any acceptances/interviews and I’m kinda wondering why. Is it rude to ask for feedback? Thanks!!

  5. Alsooo, I forgot to add- do you think they don’t accept master’s that aren’t from a French University? While I went to school at Paris 3, I won’t have a degree from them.

  6. Salut Dana! So, I kinda stalk Jenny’s website ielanguages.com and I came across this newest posting: “L’Université de Picardie Jules Verne is still looking to hire an English lecteur/lectrice for 2016-17. Candidates should have British nationality, a BA, and should not have already been a lecteur/lectrice at a European university.” Do you know if this is legal? It seems a bit discriminatory to my French bf. Just curious!!

    1. Yeah I saw that one too. Sometimes that happens.
      While lecteurs/lectrice positions are for ANY native speaker, it’s not technically discriminatory for France to hire EU citizens (aka British or Irish) over other nationalities for any other positions because they don’t need to be sponsored. Im a bit surprised that the position has that as a requirement, but perhaps it’s a post that they created themselves and not one that is being government sponsored (aka why you can have any nationality).

    2. additionally, the ‘not having been a lecteur rule’ is pretty common. You can be a lecteur for up to 2 years and some universities hire you with the intention that you stay for 2! So if you’ve already worked for 2, you can’t be a lecteur again, and if you’ve worked for 1, you can’t do more than one year at that university if that makes sense.

  7. Bonjour, Dana! I have a personal question regarding lecteur interviews, as by some incredible chance I scored one for next week! Could I email you for the details? Merci beaucoup!

  8. This is great! I would add that you should get in touch with schools even when they don’t have a job posting – try to find the head of the English (or your native language) department and email them.

    I’m another one that slipped through the cracks – some schools will count things like a good TEFL certificate as continuing education, although most won’t. I agree that not having M1 studies definitely puts you at a disadvantage or disqualifies you altogether. But if you have strong experience it’s still worth a shot! The whole application process and the job itself varies HUGELY between schools.

    1. Yes! You’re totally right and I’ll add that in, along with– follow up on your application because they get so many they can get lost in the scramble sometimes

  9. Hey Dana!

    I have no interest in being a lectrice in France in the near future, but this is a really informing post. I really appreciate it! I hope to someday return to France to live and to work more permanently, so it’s really great to learn about some of the inner-workings about how the French interviewing/hiring process works! Thanks!

  10. Still lots of rejections and 0 answers here…:( I understand!!

    I’m wondering, though, do you know what exactly a TCF score of C2 means? I.E. What kinds of jobs or opportunities could someone have if they have a C2 level of French? I’m really wondering what all these test scores actually mean in the real world. TIA!

    1. Ugh, I feel your pain. A lot of universities are still hiring though so keep trying !

      C2 is the highest level of the European language framework you can achieve, meaning you are fluent/bilingual in French. Usually in France you need between B2-C2… But most professional jobs probably C2!

      1. I just achieved C2 on the TCF this Spring 🙂 Should I add that to my CV? I’m applying to 1 more lectrice position and then probably calling it quits. I’m a bit off my game with my endometriosis giving me tons of problems! =/

  11. Hi Dana! I’ve read in some places that certain degrees (such as foreign language degrees) can be accepted as the equivalent to a a Bac +4. Any clarification on this?

    1. Hey! It used to be the case that American Bachelor Degrees were counted as Bac + 4 (because well, 4 years of study, which is how France determines it.) However, now they are saying that an American Bachelor’s Degree is equivalent to a French Licence (Bac + 3), even though it takes us 4 years to take it. So, Americans are having a harder and harder time getting through with a Bachelor’s. It still IS possible, but more and more universities are cracking down on this rule. France says that applicants much have 1 year of a Master’s Degree, or something such as a teacher’s certification. It’s really disheartening and I absolutely do not agree with it. If I was in this position I’d almost say to enroll in an M1 while you did the assistantship so you could qualify by French standards and apply for lecteur positions…

      1. No problem! I guess I should emphasize that the hiring process varies greatly. It’s never really the same anywhere which is why there is either little or much conflicting information , as opposed to the assistantship where the process is similar, although experiences vary

  12. This post is INCREDIBLY helpful. I can’t thank you enough, considering that I applied to lecteur/lectrice positions for the upcoming year. Unfortunately, I have a slim chance of getting accepted (and already got a handful of rejections), because I don’t have any post-grad studies under my belt, but I will definitely take your advice of enrolling concurrently in a master’s program if I end up doing the assistant de langue program again this upcoming year! Thanks once again. 🙂

    1. ugh, I’m sorry. this new rule totally sucks. I guess that’s the silver lining with being an assistant twice- you can enroll in an M1, even if you don’t intend to finish, just to get the “Post Graduate Studies.” I wish this rule wasn’t a thing- I find it insulting!

      Good Luck!!

      1. Yeah, it’s not the most ideal situation, but I can understand why universities want someone with more credentials next to experience. Thanks again; I’ll let you know how it goes!

    2. Aaggh, I’m in the exact same boat as you, especially as the rejections have been slowly rolling in… I’ve been wondering,what are the options in terms of enrolling in a concurrent M1…assuming I do go on to a second assistant year, should I be working now on an application, or would it be easier/possible to just wait until I arrive in France in September? I’m worried I’ll be placed in a school hours away from a university

      1. I’m wondering the same thing, too! I have a friend who was an assistant again this year, and enrolled as a comp-lit student in university; he said that it’s quite stressful balancing the two, and is planning to focus just on his studies next year, no more teaching. Personally, if I were you, I would probably wait until you arrive in France, especially since you’ll be getting your school placement beforehand in July. From there, you can find programs near your town. Hope this helps!

      2. I’m not sure.. Technically you need to go thru campus France but I think if you’re already in France on a different visa you have the right to enroll! I guess it depends on how long your visa is valid for, for example …

      3. Yes, it’s quite odd- but it seems like many have jumped on the and wagon a by late. Maybe it has to do with when the spring vacations fell? I know for us, this was a factor …

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