The French Educational System is very centralised by the Ministère de l’Education. All French public schools, whether in France or abroad, follow the same program, textbooks, exams, rules, teacher training within a centralised structure as decided by the Ministry of Education.

Starting from Primary school, all the way up through Middle and High schools and on to their universities, Grandes Ecoles, and Business schools (picked out for their relevance to this article) the system has produced some common traits.

Very difficult to change, innovate & make improvements of any kind.

Teacher training offers very little, if any, training in brain-friendly learning based on neuroscience. It’s a very traditional, scholarly approach, often teacher-centric rather than learner-centric, partly due to the national Ministry of Education being like an enormous “mammoth” of centralised administration, and hence somewhat top-heavy, inflexible and slow when it comes to acting on any decisions to bring about any concrete changes/improvements

Les neurosciences éducatives”

That said, there are the beginnings of a movement by trainers/teachers/practitioners (with no help from the Ministry of Education!) which is trying to introduce the ideas & practice of a neuroscience evidence-based approach; it is called “les neurosciences éducatives” … it is very slowly gaining ground among the younger (enlightened!) generation of trainers/teachers but is very much a bottom-up rather than a top-down movement

Even in business, trainees expect a scholarly approach.

As language trainers, we witness the product of the French educational approach and system in companies and organizations where we train adults at management level; trainees expect more of the same, and are generally surprised and delighted when they discover our NLL approach, and realise they’re making progress quicker, more efficiently, effectively and comfortably (just occasionally there is still the odd trainee that insists on the traditional, book-reliant scholarly and teacher-centric approach – it is that ingrained!)

Very exam-oriented.

Preparation for being operational in the real world is lacking. Students do a lot of reading and writing exercises and there is often insufficient practice of oral & communication skills (although this is improving). After 10 to15 years learning English (it is usually the first foreign language in France), adults still need a lot of oral communication training, as well as training on cultural differences, to be operational and successful in the real world. For those working at an international level, there are particular problems. Their first real-world meeting, conference call, negotiation, presentation, business trip in English can be quite a distressing experience after so many years learning English, and especially after having obtained top marks in their English exams;) However, having said all of the above, things are slowly changing and I am optimistic. New reforms for passing the school-leaving exam (the Baccalauréat) have just been introduced this year; i.e. the Bac results will now be calculated not only on exam results but also on coursework over the last year at school. The French Ministry of Éducation will be analysing these reforms after the first batch of school leavers finish their Bac in June 2020!

Hence, there is a high demand for English language trainers

The organisation ICF France

Another recent development (2017) is the existence in Paris of the organisation ICF France, accredited by ICF (International Coaching Federation), where language teachers may train as a language coach, become certified according to the ethical standards and core competencies of the ICF. This is an important development as France was lagging behind and anyone could call themselves a language coach whether they were trained and qualified or not. A lot of abuse abounded (and still abounds due to lack of regulations): presenting oneself as a “coach”, rather than as a “teacher”, generally means higher remuneration. We personally know many teachers who have a non-ICF accredited certificate from dubious training firms and call themselves coaches after a relatively short training course, and the only requirement for obtaining their certificate is handing in an essay! They have not demonstrated their skills in the core competencies of coaching as defined by the ICF.

ELC Training programs in French

Our own ELC training programs and certification for becoming a NL Coach (the first in the world, ICF accredited and a protected trademark) is now also available in the French language. To anyone wishing to transform from a language teacher to a language coach, either in English or in French, we would always recommend our own ELC NL qualified trainers first … what else??!!

Carol & Sue