How I changed career: TV researcher to English teacher in France

From Nothing Hill to Perpignan, Louise Sayers tells us how professional life can sometimes be wonderfully surprising. ‘I have found my niche,’ she says

Louise now teaches business English
Published Last updated

In our ongoing series featuring people who have started new careers in France, Louise Sayers explains why she ditched media life to teach English

I started my career working in the media – and when my husband Mark, 50, and I decided to make the move to France in 2002, I was working as a TV researcher for a big production company.

We lived in a flat in Notting Hill and enjoyed the vibrant city life.

However, we also knew that our lifestyle could not continue forever.

‘We wanted to make the most of our language proficiency’

We wanted children and that would mean a move out of the city to somewhere we could afford a larger house in a child-friendly area.

As we looked further and further afield, we wondered whether we might instead make a move to France.

The decision did not come entirely out of the blue. Both Mark and I had studied French at university, and neither of us was using that skill in our current jobs.

Moving to France seemed an ideal opportunity to make the most of our language proficiency, find somewhere to bring up children, and take advantage of better weather to boot!

We decided on Perpignan, both for the climate and because Mark had studied for a year there at university, so knew the area well.

Conscious that we would need an income, we visited a French property show in Olympia in 2002 to explore different options.

There we got talking to representatives of a large estate agency.

Finding they had no branch in Perpignan, we agreed to open one. It was a way to work together, use our language and generate the income we needed.

We moved over in 2003, opened the branch and were busy from day one.

Our two children, Rosie and Jonah, were born in 2005 and 2007, and things seemed to have fallen into place.

Then, in 2008, the financial crisis hit. Suddenly, the number of people looking to make an investment or buy a home in France reduced dramatically – along with our income.

We could no longer justify both of us running the agency so I decided to step aside and open my own business – a hand-holding service called France-SOS.

Although the work was fairly easy and business was good, it was not something I felt passionate about.

In 2015, I became really dissatisfied and took a patisserie course, qualifying with a CAP (Certificat d’aptitude professionnelle) in 2018.

However, when I took my business model to the chambre de commerce, I realised it did not add up.

I signed up for a TEFL course while I reviewed my options. I was not sure what my next step would be.

‘I love new experiences’

Then, out of the blue, in May 2019, I received a call from my children’s collège.

The English teacher was off sick and they needed someone to cover her classes until the end of term.

I love new experiences, so thought: why not? It was a little daunting at first, teaching troisième and quatrième, but I ended up really enjoying the work.

In May 2020, I applied for a job teaching English at the University of Perpignan.

Sadly, as I do not have a master’s degree, I was unsuccessful.

Read more: Explained: Studying to teach English in France

However, they offered a position as a vacataire instead – a teacher who fills in when staff are unavailable.

I loved the experience. Being around young people is such fun – they have great energy.

Unfortunately, the salary was not enough to justify the amount of work I was doing, so I am now in the process of setting up my own enterprise teaching English to people in business.

I am currently applying for Qualiopi certification, which would mean clients could pay for my courses through their formation (training) allowance, making it more affordable.

In discovering teaching, I feel I have really found my niche. It is something fulfilling that I love to do, and I am looking forward to the next chapter in my career.

Related stories

Banker to cheesemonger: ‘I want to be an ambassador of this heritage’

New directions: From cashier to cupcake maker in France