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Famous for its culinary delights, bohemian culture and formidable fashion, France is also an amazing place to hang your TEFL hat.
From the chic style of Paris to the sun-drenched beaches of the French Riviera, France is overflowing with breathtaking architecture, fascinating heritage and that indefinable je ne sais quoi that makes it one the hottest destinations around. And if the idea of double kissing everyone you meet plus sampling world-renowned cuisine, lots of smelly cheeses and top-class wine direct from the vineyards appeals, then France is the country for you – particularly if you’re an EU citizen.
EU citizens can work in France visa-free pushing them to the top of the TEFL jobs queue. And, while the French are super-proud of their own language, there’s a strong demand for English teachers across the country, fuelled both by the recognition that English is the international language of business and the ever-present need to cater for the strong tourism industry. France is definitely not the cheapest place to live so don’t expect to build up any significant savings here. However, TEFL salaries are decent so you will be able to afford a reasonable standard of living.
The flip side to the EU’s free market is that, if you’re not an EU citizen, your options are limited. With a strong pool of native-English speaking teachers just across the channel, most employers aren’t interested in recruiting teachers who need to go through the long working visa application process – although it’s possible this could change following Britain’s departure from the EU. However, there are opportunities for non-EU citizens to find work as teaching assistants or interns through programmes such as TAPIF and the French American Chamber of Commerce’s (FACC) trainee programme.
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£1,500 (starting wage)
Cost of living
TEFL certificate needed
Main job types
Private language schools
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You’ll normally need a bachelor’s degree (in any subject) to teach English in France, as well as a TEFL certificate. The TEFL market in France is pretty competitive, so employers often look for teaching experience too.
For highly sought after English teaching jobs in universities and international schools, you’re likely to need a master’s degree and teaching licence on top of your other qualifications.
As a developed western European country, France is one of the more expensive TEFL destinations to live in, so don’t expect to save much while you’re working here. However, you’ll earn a reasonable wage as a TEFL teacher and you should be able to afford a decent standard of living.
It’s rare for accommodation to be included in your teaching package so expect around 60 to 70% of your wage to go on somewhere to live. The cost of renting an apartment in Paris is particularly high, with a one-bedroom apartment in the centre costing around double what you’d pay for similar accommodation outside of Lyon. You might be better off living and working away from the capital and making a trip to see it on your days off.
Food prices are similar to other western European countries with a litre of milk costing around €1, a loaf of fresh bread around €1.30 and a half litre bottle of local beer around €1.50. If you fancy eating out, a meal in a relatively cheap, local restaurant could set you back around €13, and budget around €50 for a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant.
The majority of TEFL jobs in France are in private language schools. These cater for a whole range of ages and skill levels – from children learning their first words in a foreign language to teenagers who need to prepare for exams to adults who want to learn English either for their own personal development or to improve their employment opportunities.
There are also a few opportunities to teach at public and private schools as well as universities. However, to land one of these jobs, you’ll normally need to be a fluent French speaker and have a formal teaching qualification plus previous teaching experience.
Many TEFL teachers offer private tuition on top of a job within a school. As this is essentially your own business, you can choose whether to focus on a niche area, such as business English or to cover a range of ages and levels. However, the more flexible you are, the wider a market you have!
If you only want to spend a few weeks or months in France, or you’re looking for additional work during the school holidays, there are also teaching jobs in summer camps. These are mainly aimed at children aged 11 to 15 years old and can be a good way to get a taster for the country. If you’ve already worked for a language school during the year, find out if they run any summer camps, as schools usually give first preference to existing staff. If not, look out for adverts on TEFL jobs boards as camps will take on additional teachers over the summer.
For non-EU citizens, the vast majority of teaching opportunities are through organized teaching assistant programmes, such as TAPIF and the FACC (the French American Chamber of Commerce’s trainee programme). Check out the restrictions before you apply, however, as each scheme sets its own age limits and requirements.
If you’re an EU citizen you can teach English in France legally without a visa. However, competition for TEFL jobs is strong across the country, so you’ll often need a TEFL certificate (CELTA and CertTESOL are usually preferred), a bachelor’s degree and teaching experience to get a look in.
If you’re from outside the EU, you’ll normally need a working visa – which can take up to six months to process. In practice, this means that non-EU citizens will struggle to find a full-time paid TEFL job legally as employers are reluctant to wade through the paperwork and then wait as much as half a year for a working visa to come through when they have a strong pool of qualified, native English speaking teachers on their doorstep.
However, there are still options open to you if you’re a non-EU citizen, particularly if you’re under the age of 30. Americans, for example, can apply for a teaching assistant role through programmes such as TAPIF and FACC. Teachers from a number of other countries, including Canada, New Zealand and Australia can apply for a working holiday visa or come into France on a student visa (assuming you’re happy to study) and take on some TEFL work while you are there.
Some non-EU citizens come into the country on a tourist visa and teach ‘under the table’, mainly to private students. However, we wouldn’t recommend this as there can be legal consequences.
If you work in a public school, be prepared for long days and big classes, often with more than 30 pupils. The school day usually runs from 9am to 6pm from Monday to Friday – although you may have a half-day on Wednesday plus long holidays to recover. Private schools have similar hours but you’ll have smaller classes to deal with.
If you work at a private language school, your hours will be more flexible and likely to vary across the year, to meet demand. In fact, many TEFL teachers work in two or more language schools and top up with private tutoring to ensure they have sufficient work.
If you’re not already in France, you can look for TEFL jobs via online TEFL jobs boards and interview via a video call before you arrive.
As with most countries, the majority of TEFL jobs are in the larger cities, including Paris, Lyon and Nice. However, you can find work teaching English all over the country. If you love beaches, then the port city of Marseille can be a great location. For culture-lovers, Lyon’s UNESCO World Heritage Site is a great pull and a job in Bordeaux puts you on the spot to sample wine straight from its producers.
Starting salaries at both public and private schools are around £1,500 per month. If you’ve got good qualifications and teaching experience, you may be able to negotiate a higher wage. It’s unusual to have many benefits on top of your basic salary – so don’t expect bonus payments or accommodation to be thrown in unless you’re at a top international school.
You’ll generally get paid less at a private language school – around £1,000 per month or £12-19 per hour. However, you’ll have more flexibility over your hours and many TEFL teachers work in a couple of schools plus take on private tutoring work to top up their pay packet.
Most teaching positions in schools are advertised over the summer, ready for the start of the new school year in September. If possible, start your search in June as some schools shut down during August – although early September can be a great time to pick up a last minute post if you’re ready to start work straight away. There’s also a smaller recruitment window around October, for posts starting in January.
Language schools tend to be more flexible in their recruitment cycles, with positions available all year round. However, you will find more job openings in the run-up to the new school year. Summer camps like to recruit several months in advance, so look for vacancies around December to January.
If you’re hoping to find a position through one of the non-EU schemes, look at least six months in advance of when you intend to start work. Applications for TAPIF, for example, close mid-January for positions beginning in September.
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