Volunteering to Teach English

by Daisy

Question I've recently gained my cert TESOL and am thinking of re-locating to France. As I obviously do not have much experience I've read that volunteering to teach English in a language school is a good way to gain some and also gives you a foot in the door if any paid work is available. However, I've also read that volunteering in fact devalues the certificate and I would really appreciate your thoughts on this subject.

Answer Hi Daisy. Sorry about the slight delay in answering. Personally I'm against volunteering to teach English in a language school. These are commercial organizations which expect to pay for the services of the staff they hire. I speak as an ex-boss of a chain of language schools.

I do think you have to be careful about undervaluing the service you are giving. Of course, if you have no experience teaching English, then it's fair to charge less until you have some experience, but don't charge too much less.

I recommend that first you just test the job market. Apply to any jobs that interest you, and send your C.V. to hundreds of schools in France. You might get lucky and find a job quickly. If you are finding it difficult to get any interest, then, despite what I've said, you could think about volunteering to teach English.

Offering to work for a trial period for free (perhaps a day or a week) might work if you are applying to a job for which there's a lot of competition. It would show you were keen, and many schools would appreciate that. If you do decide to volunteer, then choose your school and director of studies carefully. Choose the best schools.

Are you only interested in teaching English in France? I ask because there are easier countries to find an ELT job. You would have a very good chance of finding a job teaching English in China, for example.

If you really want to teach English in France, then another option is advertising locally for private classes. You could offer the first class, or first few classes, at a discount so the the students can see whether they like you.

Good luck on your job search, and on your time in France.

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