Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Rat Race

So what kind of work can someone like me expect to find in France? I speak very slow (poorly conjugated) French and understand little more (only when people speak at l'escargot pace!) It's going to take me time to gain the language skills I need to be able to compete with the native population for jobs no matter how intensively I try to learn. After all, there is only so much one can take in at any one time and as the saying goes, 'practice makes parfait'. There are some lines of work though, that are open to someone with limited native language skills. For instance babysitting, teaching English as a foreign language – either as a class or as a conversational sound board, being an English tour guide and also writing online in your native language.

There are many places you can advertise, if you have French friends through word of mouth would be a good way to advertise your babysitting and language services, otherwise in the local newspaper is handy. In supermarkets and local shops some still have those small card advertisement walls. Not only could you put one up but also check to see if anyone is looking for someone like you. I have been offered some babysitting work as well as to help improve the mother's English skills. These jobs came about through word of mouth as she is a work colleague of my fiancé. So make sure you are mentioning your available services and want for work regularly as you never know who may be interested.

A difficult question is how much to charge. Some people maybe looking for a live in au pair rather than just a once a week babysitter so food and board would need to be taken into consideration. The minimum wage in France is currently 9,00 €, so you shouldn't be offering to work for less that this and customers should not be offering to pay you less. If there are multiple children or it is over an extended period of time you may want to negotiate higher than your normal rate. Considering in Britain the minimum wage is £5.93 for over 21s (6,79 €) and £4.92 (5,63 €) for 18-20 years old, the French minimum wage is not so minimum after all.

Language barriers can cause a lot of problems in the world of work and make you feel limited and ultimately a bit useless at times. Therefore focusing on improving your language skills needs to be your number one priority. If possible only get a part time job, leaving you free to pursue other language methods but also the job itself will help increase your vocabulary and improve your pronunciation. Don't be deterred if this sort of work is not particularly up your street, with time comes experience and with experience comes options, we all have to start somewhere.


  1. I completely understand being in a foreign country with limited ability of speaking the language. Things will get better if you keep trying!

  2. Oui c'est vrai! How long have you lived in the United States for? My French is slowly improving, I spent the day with my sister-in-law-to-be at IKEA which is a good place to improve my knowledge of French nouns it turns out!

    Thank you reading and commenting, it's nice to know someone has enjoyed my writing!