Children, by Michelle Schwartzbauer

Michelle Schwartzbauer

By Dana Wielgus

Learning about the French language and culture is one of my greatest passions. During my college studies, I stayed with my French major despite comments about never finding a job. Some universities are encouraging students who aspire to become teachers to get degrees in high-need or growing fields, but not French. Be practical, because it’s a tough job market out there, is a common saying I heard from classmates, friends, and family.

Education in America is changing. Test scores are becoming more important as schools are held accountable for student growth and progress. Core content such as math, reading, and science is becoming the majority of the school day leaving electives such as music, art, drama, technical education, and foreign languages behind.

I wanted to be able to teach and pass along my passions for language, culture and world travel. When I entered college, I was on a different path in order to be practical, but I wasn’t happy. I was rebuked for taking time away from my education program to study abroad and encouraged to not change my major to French for fear of never finding a job. I did it anyway.

Why on earth would you want to teach French? You know you’re never going to get a job teaching French, right?

Comments like these frustrated me. They made me sad. What if they were right? But they also made me more determined.

I knew I would love teaching French by helping students discover new life-changing possibilities through language, learning, and travel, as I had. Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) would give me the opportunity to work one-on-one with students from other cultures, developing close bonds and learning about different ways of life.

According to the Consultant General of France[1], French is the only language spoken in Asia, Africa, Oceana, and the Americas. It is also the most widely learned foreign language after English, the third most utilized on the Internet, as well as the ninth most spoken in the world. The Consultant General of France in Houston also states that France has the fifth-largest economy and is the number one tourist destination in the world. Finally, French is the official language used in the Olympic Games. Overall, a background in French has deepened my understanding of some of the greatest authors, artists, actors, and performers in the world: and it has immensely broadened my appreciation of world culture and history.

In January 2013, I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and was certified to teach both French and English as a Second Language (ESL) to all grade levels, Pre-K through grade 12. It took me two years and a semester of study abroad to settle into my major. Now I am teaching English as a Second Language to middle and elementary school students in a suburban school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and someday I hope to teach English abroad. I absolutely love my new job. My position was awarded because of my knowledge of French and, in part, from study abroad experiences that set me apart in the application process. Living in a country that was not my own has given me a better understanding of how students’ needs must be met.

I believe the best teachers are those who are passionate about their subject. I’m glad for the changes I made and the opportunities I embraced in my educational career. As the world becomes smaller and more connected, I cannot think of a better way of focusing a resume than with global experience, collaboration, and the understanding and use of languages that are not your native tongue.

[1] 10 Good Reasons to Learn French. Retrieved from

List of Resources:

Dana Wielgus received a Bachelor’s of Science in Education degree from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and is certified to teach both French and English as a Second Language. She spent a semester studying abroad in Caen, France, where she lived with a French family, attended classes at the local university, and integrated herself into the French community. Dana taught English in southern Japan during one summer. She teaches English as a Second Language in suburban Milwaukee and someday hopes to teach abroad. When not teaching or traveling, Dana enjoys exercising, reading, socializing with friends and sorority sisters, and promoting social activism. (blog)

You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, A behind-the-scenes look at French parenting, by au pair Alyssa Glawe who asks, “How do the French have such polite and courteous children without lifting a finger?” For Alyssa, every day leads to new cultural shocks and humorous situations. 

The Child Madeline, by writer and educator Natalie Ehalt who shares her love of Madeline and brings a deserved respect for girls and children worldwide. Including excerpts from Mad About Madeline: The Complete Tales, by Ludwig Bemelmans.

Children fashionistas: Why French children dress better than you do. French au pair Alyssa Glawe tells that a child’s clothes in France are more than just something to cover the body. “It’s safe to say that, French parents would never put an item of clothing on their child that they would not wear themselves,” she writes “Comfort is important, but in all truth, it’s really about the fashion.” Including a list of children’s labels and websites.

Colette: Gigi meets Anne of Green Gables, by Canadian writer Philippa Campsie who contemplates French novels and their heroines, and wonders if French fiction may well be the important key to the mystery of what makes Frenchwomen the way they are. Including a recommendation of books by Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery, and Colette.

How to find a (suitable) place in Paris, and other miscellaneous information, by French woman from Brittany, Bénédicte Mahé, who is in her mastère-spécialisé final trimester doing an internship in Paris. Bénédicte shares with students how to find a place in Paris. (French)

Text copyright ©2013 Dana Wielgus. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Michelle Schwartzbauer. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.