Helene Combe

Through my journey as an English teacher and a language learner

The diary of a newbie teacher: 6 months of being a freelancer

If you are reading my blog for a long time, first of all, thank you, second of all, you may be aware of the fact that I am a freelance English teacher in France.

I didn’t want to be a freelancer: I hate paperwork, I hate invoices, I hate searching for clients. Unfortunately, life decides by itself and right after I came back from Britain, I became a freelance English teacher. What does it mean? It means that I am working for several clients, that my schedule is changing all the time, that I can cancel a class without giving a reason, so can my clients/ students, and that I never know what I am going to receive as a payment at the end of the month.

Being freelance in France is not easy: this country just worships paperwork. You have to fill numerous forms, you have to attend a seminar, you have to check a million times if you are doing everything properly, you have to promise to give your first born to the devil (okay, not that last one, I admit)… Being freelance is more about filling forms than actually teaching.

It also means no safety: fortunately, I found some decent contracts, and I pretty much know what I am going to get by the end of the month. That’s, of course, if the accountant doesn’t forget to pay you when she is supposed to. The customers don’t care about your rent, your gas, all they care about is if you are able to teach that precise group on that precise day.

I mostly work for a training centre, fortunately, that means I don’t have to search for contracts by myself. I have great colleagues there, but it’s not the same as belonging to an actual school. I am the freelance girl, despite everything, if something goes wrong, I am the first to go. Training centers are under a lot of pressure lately, because the laws are changing, which means I am under pressure right now.

I have some thoughts about teaching in companies. Most of the time, I really enjoy it, because I meet a lot of people but lately, I am annoyed. Maybe it’s because a lot of my classes got cancelled over every damn reason possible (“I have a meeting.” “I didn’t find someone to replace me.” “I am going on holidays.” “I am too busy to learn English…”), or maybe I think the right conditions are not reunited and the learning process is too complicated. I do understand why they are cancelling: I worked in a company once too. But I feel like they cannot commit for more than three months; after three months, it’s not funny anymore, you are still asking attention and they want to think about something else.

I am also teaching a bunch of retired people, who are just exquisite, and that I couldn’t have taught if I wasn’t a freelance teacher. My oldest student is 76, she travels her entire life, she shares her memories, she brings every week a new topic, and she is the sweetest person I ever met in my entire life.

The perks of being a freelance are numerous, but the happy encounters we make are a huge benefit.

1 Comment

  1. I’m about six months in as a freelancer too and I can definitely share your gripes about company classes as one of my students who originally wanted two hours a week has had about ten hours in the past three months as meetings and business trips get in the way.

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