I’m about two months late, but all the same, I wanted to give my two cents (or centimes) on the lecteur/lectrice application process in France. Especially if many of you are currently assistant.e.s or aspiring expats who want to continue living in the country legally, then having this job is a good way to do so.
P.S. This post was inspired by that of Dana’s on her blog— a true expat since 2013, she was a great resource for me when I was applying to become a lectrice!
For those of you who don’t know what a lecteur/lectrice is, it’s basically a higher-level position of being an assistant.e— the differences are that the lecteur has to work more hours, teach full classes on their own, and give/grade exams.
…oh, and did I mention that the salary’s more? Compared with the barely 800€ that assistant.e.s make, lecteurs make about 1220€ a month. Not to say that you’re making a fortune, but I’ve found that it’s much more of a living wage than anything.
I will also add this point by saying that everyone’s path to becoming a lecteur/lectrice will greatly vary, unlike the TAPIF/assistant.e route which I’ve found has more-or-less been consistent across all assistant.es, regardless of country from which they’re coming. There’s no single organization of lecteurs/lectrices, as each French university is separate from the other, and they operate on their own accord.
Hence, my experience, as an American lectrice teaching science students in the Lyon region, will be different than, say, a British lecteur instructing humanities students in Bordeaux. Even my fellow lecteurs/lectrices who teach at the different campuses in my city have widely-different experiences. That said, this post will only be from my own perspective, as a non-EU citizen and the processes needed to be legal to work abroad.
My post will be divided into four categories from start to finish. I hope you’ll find them helpful!
1. Prep Work
a. Start gathering up your documents– copies of passports, college transcripts, birth certifications…just like how it is for the assistant.e process, it’s a matter of keeping and copying any sort of document you might find important for applying. Some schools I’ve applied to even require French translations of birth certificates and college transcripts, so make sure you give yourself enough time (and money) to find an official translator to do it. Keep everything in a folder and always have extra copies on hand.
b. Update your CV– especially if you haven’t updated your CV/résumé since college, then it’s the best time to do it now. Even more so, make sure you have it formatted to fit the French standard; it’s very different from American/Canadian ones! If you’re not sure how to format it, a quick Google search of templates or a trusty French friend/proofreader won’t hurt at all. Might take a while to get the CV to the right fit, but soon you’ll have it set and squared away.
c. Write your lettre de motivation– selling yourself can be hard, especially if you’ll be competing with potentially dozens of other applicants who might have more experience and a higher level of French than you. Best thing to do is write the best that you can, using the best, professional French you can muster– I would be lying and say that no applicant hadn’t had their lettre de motivation proofread by a native French speaker before sending it off– in fact, it’s okay! Anything to up your chances of getting accepted.
a. Start searching– usually, job openings start up around late January or February, although I’ve seen postings as late as July! You can find positions by going to individual French university websites and looking under “Recruitement” and see if anything’s available. Otherwise, I highly recommend IE Languages website listing, which is where I found my current job advertised. It won’t have all of the university jobs on there, but there’s a good handful of them, enough to apply to many of them.
b. Send exactly what the school asks for– even if you’re missing a document that’s required of the university, find a way to obtain said document. Many universities are extremely strict with their requirements, and they’ll reject you if you can’t supply everything that they ask of you. Even if they ask for something as random as your college thesis, send it to them.
c. Sit back and wait– …and the waiting game begins! Especially if you’ve gone through the whole TAPIF process, you know just how slow French bureaucracy is in processing things. If you apply to schools in February, expect them to get back to you no earlier than March; I’ve had most universities get back to me sometime in late March to April, so it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. Until then, sit back and relax, knowing that you’ve done the best that you can, and all you can do is hope for a response.
3. The Interview
a. Know if it’s in-person or video chat– congratulations! You’ve scored an interview. Now it’s a matter of knowing whether you need to show up in person or just held on video chat. I’m told that many interviews for schools in and around Paris are held in-person; I had to go to an interview in-person for a university in the Parisian suburbs– thankfully, I was still in France and didn’t live too far away from the capital to go. Otherwise, see if you can schedule a Skype interview– many other schools offer that option, anyway.
b. Prepare your responses– while it’s true that you can’t fully prepare for what questions to expect from your interviewers, at least there’ll be a handful of common queries they’ll be asking you. Common ones that I’ve gotten ask were: “Tell us a bit about yourself,” “What’s your teaching experience?,” “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Really practice for the part, both in English and French, and be prepared for any other questions thrown your way.
c. Dress the part– even if it’ll be a Skype interview, putting on at least a blazer (trust me, you can wear shorts otherwise– no one will know!) will show that you’re self-assured and professional. You know that it’s all about looking good in France…doing so for interviews is no exception! That said, even if you don’t like dressing up, a bit of effort doing so will make all the difference.
d. Be yourself!– selling yourself doesn’t mean lying about your non-existent qualifications. Be honest during the interview, but of course do present yourself in a bolder light, rather than humbling yourself. It’s like being on stage, and it’s your turn to shine for a grand total of 15 to 20 minutes, so take full advantage of it! Cliché as it sounds, act like what you’d expect the better version of yourself to act, and it’s the confidence, fluidity, and even a touch of humor that’ll win your interviewer over.
a. Wait (again)– once the interview is over with, expect more waiting as the school still might be interviewing other candidates. Give it about a week before emailing them to ask about the position. If they don’t get back to you at all, don’t take it personally– maybe they’re overwhelmed with other things and can’t get back– it’s their loss. Even after getting accepted, there’s still waiting involved, as administrative paperwork needs to be processed and mailed to your home. Be patient!
b. Book and reserve– …so you’ve been accepted to be a lecteur/lectrice– yay! Now, it’s a matter of having the school send the work authorization contract to your consulate. Book your VISA appointment, along with your flight over to France and whatnot. Once again, it might take some time, but at least now you know that you have the job, and things will pick up speed.
c. Get paperwork in on-time– besides getting all of your VISA documents in, it’s upon arriving in France that you need to submit more documents (copies of work contract, VISA, passport, etc.) to the school to be sent to OFII for the final part of your immigration process. The sooner you get everything in, the faster they’ll be received and processed. Same goes for your sécu sociale, which entitles you to a physician at a reduced cost should you get sick during your stay. Yes, there’s lots to do, but it’ll have to get done!
d. Attend your OFII appointment– from experience as both an assistante and lectrice, once you’ve had your OFII appointment, you’re pretty much set in France. Depending how soon you send in your paperwork (and also based on the region), you can have your appointment as early as September or as late as January. The sooner it is, though, the less-stressful it’ll be in the months to come. Congratulate yourself once the process is done– you’re legal to work in France!
…and that’s about it for the lecteur/lectrice process as a non-EU citizen. If you have any questions or anything you’d like to add to this post, feel free to let me know! Bon courage to those still applying, and à bientôt.