Monday, 4 May 2009

Funny Business

By my last meeting with my Instep co-ordinator, I had decided that my chances of breaking in to real French employment were less than zero, especially with firms closing down at a quick rate. I have been completing my TEFl training book 3 over the last few weeks and sent it off to the UK for marking / comment. The only thing that I can realistically do better than the average French person, is speak English.
The previous day my French teacher said that I should write to an organisation that she knew were going to have to ensure their staff’s ability to speak and read English due to new Government policy. So with my councillor’s assistance we spent most of the session writing a suitable “prospecting” letter.
I also asked my advisor how to go about setting myself up as an official person teaching English to people in their homes etc.
This turned into my homework. Go to the Chamber of Commerce and they will advise you on the best course of action, then go to your bank and talk to them about a business account….
The next day I trot along to the Chamber of Commerce (CCI). As in January, I do not get past the reception desk. I have just explained what I wish to do and the receptionist is pondering, when a lady comes in through the front doors. Relief shows on the receptionist’s face and she explains my quest. No, I should not have come here, I should have gone to Oorsaph. This turns out to be URSSAF. This organisation is on the outer edge of town near to the LeClerc supermarket. I say that I know the area as it it where I went in January to register as being unemployed.
The next day I go to URSSAF, which although I have a road number for, cunningly conceals both behind a hedge, hidden from view on a plaque on the wall beside the entrance which is hidden from the road.
I go in, see a door marked Welcome. So like Alice, I knock and open the door. Of course there is a meeting going on, so I close the door and look at the other doors leading off from the foyer.
A lady comes out of the room and I explain my visit. She will phone someone and if they are free they will see me, but if they are not free, they will be able to tell me when they will be free…..
She phones and someone will be right with me.
I follow the man into the main building and into a strange room, with bar type stools. We adjust our stools to suitable heights and I explain myself once again. Man then launches into a torrent of very fast French (Sigh!). He gives me a form to take away, which I can either fill in myself or if / when I return, he will help me fill in. I could also fill in the form online. But first, he says, I must go and speak to my ANPE advisor to discuss what the best type of business would be for me, when would be best time to start up as a business etc. I would not be able to call myself a teacher (Professeur) of English, because only people with teaching qualifications obtained in France can do that.
Today, 4th May, I set off to see if I could get an appointment to see my ANPE advisor only to find that she is once again on holiday, and will not be back until some time next week…
In between all this no progress, there was a sub plot. The newspaper said that the French Government had decreed that free English lessons should be made available to school children / students, over the summer holidays. One of the categories of person was for natural English speakers.
My French teacher wrote me a reference and that evening I sat down at the computer to fill in the multi-page form. This triggered a power-cut for the whole town, which lasted for 20 minutes. I went to bed.
Early next morning I resume my task to fill in the online form. This proves impossible as I cannot possibly fill in the myriad of compulsory, asterisked fields on the form, e.g. I cannot name the French University and the courses that I have completed there for the last 5 years.
At French, I explain my predicament. Mr teacher looks at the website and spends most of the morning on the phone, being passed from one person to the next, being cut off, listening to music etc. He is now a bit pissed off and after 2 hours he decides to ring the local education department to find out if they can explain how I can possibly fill in the form. He finds out that the people that work there have all taken annual leave….
The next day when I arrive at French class. Mr teacher explains that when they wrote Native English speaker living in France, they really meant, existing French language assistants already teaching in schools……
So another door closes.


  1. don't be discouraged, if I were you I'd start with just doing the paperwork for the auto-entrepreneur. if your residency allows you to work, then it is very straightforward and can be done online or at the chambres de metiers. our office in Perigueux has a cast of very helpful characters. Just tell them you want to work independently as a language consultant ... get your autorisation in order. then maybe you can approach any local language schools to see if they need help. or start your own classes! check with your villages social club and see if they offer english classes. many welcome some add'l teachers or will help send folks your way. also maybe offer homework help to local school?

    sometimes one has to start by volunteering just to show your mettle and also this might help you get leads to other employment opportunities...

  2. me? discouraged? Never! (well not yet anyway):-)


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