The time that all freelancers fear is almost up on us.

When you go for jobs they tend to be September to June but you may be able to pick up something in July for resits or marking. Yet, there is nothing in August. It’s the holidays when people on FT permanent contracts get paid for well, being on holiday. I know, I’ve been there but I never appreciated it.

August is generally a no teaching month and as a freelancer that means no money. Yes, it makes sense to go off and travel or see family but costs are high over the summer months. From years of ELT teaching I’ve learned to take holidays when it’s cheap i.e. to have an ‘alternative existence’. This became even more so when I took up early morning, lunch, late evening and weekend work. When your only day off is Tuesday you have to say goodbye long weekends. However, it’s actually BETTER! You can do more things with less traffic and cheaper prices in the week. Shhh!

Some schools an unis have longer holidays though. There are those that finish in May or June and those that go back in October or even November. This can mean a BIG break with no work or pay. Another reason why teaching in France is not for the faint of heart. Thus, you see people running round town, taking buses, trains and bikes to teach at 2 or 3 places every day. Why? Because they have to work as much as possible when there is work to make up for when there isn’t. Of course, when you go for interviews and people ask “how will you fit in this position into your timetable?” or “do you have enough availability?” you have to show that you can do the job. this “we want FT but will only pay for PT employees’ is common.

I’ve also noticed that every PT job seems to be on Thursdays more often than not. Is this some secret agreement between schools?

Moving back to my original point, the average freelancer seems to have to have a ‘whole year’ plan in mind to make up for Xmas and summer when there is no work. I see many teachers quite teaching or locations because they just can’t afford these gaps. Perhaps they don’t finance properly or just don’t make enough. Maybe schools and unis should provide work of some description or holiday pay. Here in France some contracts seem to give you an ‘end of contract’ bonus but the same type of contract at a uni doesn’t. Doesn’t seem ‘legal’ to me. Those 9 month contracts would give freelancers a nice bonus to help them through the summer and they could just be ‘teach 100 hours’ contracts. Problem here is that some contracts can’t be renewed or can only be so many times so freelancers seem in a limbo state of ‘my word is my bond’ or on a ‘service provider’ sort of basis.

How do you survive August then?


4 thoughts on “August

  1. Wow! Makes me appreciate my ft job a bit more ( and mostly I don’t). I was thinking about moving to Spain but saw the jobs were only part of the year, so didn’t. I hope you find something, there are lots of presessional courses at this time of year in the UK, but probably a bit late now.

    • Hi Richard,

      Yes, that’s one reason I didn’t move there too. For me, I have privates and some writing work so it’s OK but also a good time to just do a bit less. The key to freelancing seems to be putting your eggs in millions of baskets. I have friends who don’t. They just work at 1 or 2 unis and go in for unpaid meetings and this and that. They are basically FT but only paid PT. Then from June to October they have absolutely nothing and as they also don’t have a real contract then they have to ‘trust’ their boss that they’ll get their 96 hours again next term this ‘trust’ also relates to payment too. This would explain why several of them are far nicer and accommodating to those bosses than to others. One director said that the French uni system is run entirely on foreign freelancers but refuses to give them proper jobs, conditions and pay.Even to get a job there are countless weird rules you have to meet like ‘must have a FT job somewhere else but still be available to teach for 2/3 days a week’.

      The answer for many, as in Spain, is summer camp work. I’ve been there and would prefer not to go back but I have friends who teach in Spain who go back to London EVERY year to do that just to survive. Now they’re around 40 they don’t look so cool.

  2. Loads of “respectable” organisations in the UK have increased demand in the summer months, especially if they have full timers on summer hols. It’s a touch above summer camp, but as you say, not always realistic, especially if you have any commitments whatsoever elsewhere. Then again, two weeks in Sussex teaching on a “50+” course was pretty much a holiday in all but name: three hours of class in the morning to largely 60-something holiday makers, then trips to assorted pleasant bits of the south east three afternoons a week (cream teas, pub lunches, etc.). Not demanding at all.

    The school where I worked in the early 00s (i.e. most of my early career) was pretty special, but we had regulars who would be abroad October-June then come over July- August for the summer school stuff (NOT teenagers in matching “mug me” backpacks, but mostly young adults, presessional, IELTS, and of course, the marvellous Fifty-plus courses) and seemed to strike a reasonable balance.

    Doesn’t make it any easier though.

    • Wow. Mature summer camps. I stayed at some residential ones when I was a young whipper snapper. It was fun but non-stop and all about the activities and the drinking too. One school diverted the student food budget to fund their vodka habit. Thus, students hand the same food and bread for 2/3 days whilst the school staff were drinking and watching the school’s TV in their office. In them days I was a veggie so I got a veggie meal. It was a full boiled cabbage. They brought it over, cut it in half and gave one to me and the other to another veggie.

      I see a lot of companies in France advertising summer trips for learning English and they are about 300+ quid a week. Add on flights, housing etc and that’s a heck of a lot of money for the summer.

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