At the moment I’m not experiencing that euphoria, that Friday feeling, when the weekend looms large as it does today. This is partly due to the fact that the weekend usually involves just as much work around the house as it does in the office during the week, but is primarily related to the fact that I have recently become an English teacher.
I teach 2 hours on Friday afternoons and 4 hours on Monday morning (starting at 8am). Which does tend to put a dampener on my weekends. This was not by design of course, it just so happens that that’s the way the timetable has worked out.
Although I am now a self-proclaimed “Professor of English”, at the school where I teach, the only thing that qualifies me for this noble title – is my mother tongue, nationality and a bit of lecturing experience. If my students ever complain about my methods then I can say in my defence that I never planned to become a teacher in the first place, and I never said I was any good at it anyway.
When we moved to France I promised I would do (or not do) two things, in order to ensure my speedy integration into the local community:
- not get involved in the ex-pat scene – for that would impede my ability to pick up the lingo and place me into a ‘them and us’ pot
- not teach English as a foreign language – as again this would have me thinking far too much in my mother tongue, rather than exercising my Francophonic bouche
My eventual capitulation, on both counts, occurred only after securing a fairly fluent grasp of French and amassing a circle of Francophone friends. However, I won’t pretend that I’m not slightly disappointed that I have been unable to break the mould.
There’s no shame in teaching English, indeed it can be a profitable enterprise in France as almost everybody has some level of interest in learning the language. It is also very enjoyable. However, taking on a teaching role can feel like admitting defeat in a land where experience counts for little and qualifications define your career.
Finding a job in the hexagon can be a futile task if you lack a masters or doctorate to go with your field of expertise. I was recently advised by an APEC representative (career advice for executives) that I should consider doing a stage at a web-design firm, because if I wanted to find web work – it was certainly going to be very difficult without any qualification in that field.
The fact that I had been working in that domain for over ten years (before any qualifications were even available) and that I had been webmaster on an award-winning FTSE100 investor website were, apparently, irrelevant. It is for this reason I am now seriously considering doing a Masters, in anything, just to secure some future earning potential.
A situation which regrettably backs up the proverb: He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.*