As well as being the top tourist destination in the world, France is also popular with TEFL qualified teachers from around the world. Many thousands of teachers every year are drawn by the famous culture, history, and cuisine. If France is on your teaching radar, take a look at the basics you need to know.
What do I need to teach English in France?
The number one rule in France, as well as most other countries in Western Europe, is you will need a TEFL certification to have a chance of securing most good quality teaching jobs. As the region is so popular with foreign teachers the competition is often very high for every job and those without any formal teacher training will likely go to the bottom of the application pile.
How do I apply for TEFL jobs in France?
One of the most popular ways to secure a teaching job in France is via the government-run recruitment scheme known as TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France). The main bonus of this approach is that all the details, including work permits, are sorted out before you even leave home. Outside of this limited-number scheme, most employers prefer to hire their teachers following an in-person interview. To do this you need to choose your destination and then simply arrive there and start visiting potential employers armed with your CV/resume. While this might seem like a daunting prospect, it is common practice and most teachers achieve results quickly as the demand is high in many areas.
When should I apply for TEFL jobs in France?
If you plan to work in a private language school, which are the largest employers of foreign teachers in France, you should try to arrive towards the end of the summer. The best time is generally between late August and early October when schools are looking to fill positions for the start of the new school year. There is also a smaller, second recruitment window in January when jobs might be available. If you want more control over the hours you work you might prefer to work as a private tutor. If you choose this option it is less important what time of year you plan to arrive.
What about visas and work permits?
As a member of the EU, France is open to all citizens of other EU members who can live and work without restriction. For other nationalities it can be notoriously difficult to get hold of a work permit, so many teachers simply work under the table with nothing more than a tourist visa. This is not technically legal, but it is common practice for thousands of teachers every year and it rarely causes any problems.
There are a couple of other options if you would prefer to keep everything above board. By signing on for a French language course you might be eligible for a student visa that also allows you to work as a teacher for up to 20 hours per week. Also, citizens of Canada, Australia and New Zealand aged between 18 and 30 years old can apply for a one year working holiday visa. With this visa you are allowed to work with some restrictions, but we advise you contact the relevant embassy to get the exact details in advance.
What are the start up costs for teaching English in France?
As many teachers will need to travel to France before actually securing a teaching position it is necessary to think about how big a budget you will need to have available. The bottom line is you will need enough cash to get you through to your first pay day, which could be a few weeks in most cases. Typically a fund of around $2000 to $3000 US should be plenty to cover most eventualities.
How do I find a good TEFL job in France?
To ensure you have the widest choice of teaching jobs you should contact as many potential employers as you can find in your chosen area, even those that are not actually advertising any vacant positions. Schools and language centers can be found via the local Yellow Pages, online searches, and by talking to other teachers who are already working. Once you have a list prepared it is best to visit them in person if possible as this gives you the opportunity to take a look at the school and to make a good first impression. You should also consider having a French language version of your CV/resume that you can leave with the schools you contact.
How can I top up my salary while teaching English in France?
It is quite common for newly qualified teachers to only be offered part-time hours initially until they have proven their ability in the classroom. In this situation, many teachers take on a few private students to supplement their income. The demand for private tutoring is generally high in many areas, particularly if you have a good understanding of French. The most common and straightforward way to advertise for clients is via local newspapers, notice boards at schools and universities, and by simple word of mouth. You might only get one or two clients initially, but any extra income in the early days is well worth the effort.