Maybe you’re sitting at a quaint streetside cafe, sipping an espresso, and eating a freshly baked croissant while flipping through your pocket-sized French-English dictionary. Perhaps you’ve just taken a long bicycle ride along the Mediterranean coast, where you stopped to take a swim and sip on some Pastis. Or maybe you just really loved Midnight In Paris, and are hoping to recapture the joie de vivre of the Lost Generation.
No matter how you picture your life abroad in France, one of the most accessible, realistic, and attractive options for doing so is by teaching English.
But where do you even start? And how much can you expect to make?
The good news is, there are plenty of different avenues for teaching English in France, whether at the elementary, secondary or university level, through private language schools, or via government programs.
The bad news? There are work visa restrictions if you’re not an EU citizen, and lots of competition for jobs. If you do make it past the hurdles, the salary will likely only be around 1000-2000 euros per month (for 10-30 hours of teaching per week), most of which will go towards your living costs.
Read on to learn more about finding a job teaching English in France.
For Americans and Canadians aged 20-35, TAPIF is the most popular option for teaching English in France. It places participants as teaching assistants in public primary and/or secondary schools around the country for a seven-month contract, from October 1st to April 30th. Teaching assistants will work 12 hours a week, and receive a salary of approximately 790 euro/month, which according to TAPIF, is enough to live comfortably in most regions of France.
- As TAPIF is a joint venture of the French Ministry of Education, the Centre international d'études pédagogiques (CIEP) and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, participants in the program won’t have any problem obtaining a long-term work visa.
- While some proficiency in French is a must, the program doesn’t require TEFL certification, which you’ll need to teach in most other programs and schools. (That said, TEFL certification will definitely help your application).
- Most applicants are accepted into the program. For the 2016-2017 program, approximately 1,850 people applied for roughly 1,100 available positions.
- The program is ideal for those with minimal teaching experience, as teaching assistants don’t bear the same responsibilities as full-time teachers.
- The light workload means you can easily make extra money tutoring or babysitting.
- While you can list where you’d prefer to be placed, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be put in the city of your dreams.
- The contract is only for seven months, and you can only renew it once.
- The salary might not seem like a lot, considering you’ve got to pay for rent and your flight to and from France.
To apply, you’ll need to have completed at least three years of a Bachelor degree program, be proficient in French, and have two letters of recommendation. You can check out more information about TAPIF here.
For UK Citizens, unfortunately the the TAPIF program is not available. Due to the ease of visa regulations, however, you’re likely to find you don’t need a program in order to obtain a job.
Another option for teaching English in France is through private language schools, which service a large segment of the French population, from children to adults. Some of the most popular, large-chain language schools in France are IFG Langues, Inlingua and EF English First.
Getting a job teaching at these schools, though, is a lot like applying to a real job - you’ll require a Bachelor’s degree, teaching experience, TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification, and you’ll need to be in France at the time of your application (for interviews). You can find out if there are job openings by visiting each school’s website.
A tip worth noting is that the most opportune times to look for teaching jobs in France are during September and after Christmas Break in January.
If you’re an American, getting the long term visa necessary to work at a private language school can be nearly impossible, unless you’re already living in the country on a student visa that allows for some part-time work.
However, if you’re between the ages of 18 and 35, and are either pursuing or have a college degree, there’s another option: the French American Chamber of Commerce has a trainee program that allows French companies to sponsor American employees for up to 18 months.
Another way you might get in is to actually become a student, thereby allowing you to work on a student visa. One way to do this is by taking French language classes at one of the many French Academies or at a Eurocentre.
Private language school instructors might expect to make between 1,400 - 2,000 euros per month.
If you’ve got substantial teaching experience or are working towards a Masters degree, you can apply to become a lecteur/lectrice d’anglais or a maître de langue at a French university.
Both positions are essentially university English teachers, though becoming a maître de langue requires the completion of a graduate degree, pays more, and necessitates more preparation.
Given the higher qualifications, most of these positions are filled via exchange programs, wherein graduate students at American and British universities have the opportunity to teach and study abroad in France. However, in some cases, previous teaching experience and TEFL/CELTA certification might be enough to land you a lecteur position. Just research the universities you’d like to teach at and reply to any job openings with a CV and cover letter (in French). Some major university cities include Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Le Havre, Marseille and Bordeaux.
These university positions are typically 12-month contracts (ample French vacation time included), and pay about 1,200 euros per month (maitres make about 1,500).
As mentioned earlier, if you’re not a student (or under 35), obtaining a work visa for such a position might be difficult as an American, though in some instances a sponsoring university might be able to help you attain one. This post does a good job of breaking down how to work with a university to get your visa.
Cost of living varies a lot across France (i.e. rent in Paris might eat up your entire teacher’s salary), but you can expect it to be around 1,530 - 1,940 euro per month. For instance:
- A one bedroom apartment = ~600 euro/month
- An inexpensive meal = ~12 euro
- Taxi = ~2.75 euro/mile
- A beer = ~5 euro
- Internet = ~27 euro/month
These figures are estimates only, and prices will vary depending on the area of France you’ll be living in. To understand how much the cost of living equates to in your home currency, use an online currency converter.
If you’ll be funding your bank account in France from your account back home, consider using an international transfer service like TransferWise to save money. This will not only help cut out expensive international transfer fees (money is sent by local bank transfers in both your home country and France), but will also give you the actual mid-market exchange rate. That means more for you, and less for the banks.
Can you picture yourself teaching English in France now? There are some challenges to overcome in finding a job, but once settled, you’re sure to enjoy the lifestyle in this beautiful country.
Now you’re ready to get started as an English teacher in France. Good luck, or should we say, bon chance!