Teaching in France can be that once-in-a-lifetime chance to live in romantic Paris, or in a quaint French village or in the glamorous Mediterranean. The dream is possible but it’s not easy. The French can, and do, demand a high-calibre teacher.
The good news is that outside of Paris, there is still a high demand for well qualified teachers but you need to be prepared to get the right qualification, get a visa and do a bit of searching outside the box. Knowing the French language will help you in your search.
This is often organized through the French Chamber of Commerce network. Teaching is held within classrooms at the centre or at the businesses themselves. If you have a good qualification, some business experience in a particular field you could end up teaching individual or small groups of company directors, salesmen, technicians, engineers and accountants as well as others within the hotel and restaurant sectors.
French language schools require a degree and a CELTA or equivalent qualification (a qualification that includes monitored assessments of teaching in a real classroom and is backed by a university). But it’s worth applying for short term jobs on a lower TEFL certificate with a degree if you are on a working holiday visa.
The French Ministry of Education, which recently started recruiting teaching assistance from the USA for kindergarten and schools through the Teaching Assistant Program and if accepted you will be granted permission to work in France. You also must be a U.S. citizen and no more than 29 years of age and they are looking for recent college graduates. The contract is from October to the end of April, with three 2-week breaks in between.
This is a great option for a student or retired person living in France and trying to supplement their income with extra cash. You may end up with children after school, the local doctor and a group of 4 ladies who come for conversation. You can advertise in the local paper or on a local website. You get more response with a TEFL qualification.
When and Where to Look for Jobs:
The French Chambre of Commerce is a good source for business teachers to find classes. You will need to contact them directly in the town you wish to live in when you are there in France and you may need to market yourself to them. You could do some research about the viability in that region by contacting the French Chamber of Commerce.
University towns like Toulouse (5 universities), Grenoble (3 universities), Montpellier and even Bordeaux are good place to find work both with a university (if you have high qualification) and private lessons with students. Grenoble has the stunning Alps and is a short trip to the sky fields. Montpellier is a university town on the Mediterranean nestled between the French Riviera and the Spanish border and Bordeaux is also a university town surrounded by vineyards.
The French government demands a Bachelor’s degree or higher, and a CELTA equivalent TEFL qualification. However, if you are under 30 there are some schemes to get around that (see below).
Work Visas in France
If you have an EU passport and qualification, you are good to go. For American and other non-EU passport holders over the age of 30 it’s going to be difficult to get a sponsored visa even if you have an employer because the company will need to prove to their government that there is no EU teacher that could do the job (and there is a constant flow of Irish and British teachers looking for work in France).
If you are an Australian, Canadian or New Zealander under the age of 29 you can apply for a working holiday visa which will give you the legal right to work in France for up to a year. If you are still stuck, but determined to live the dream consider this idea; the French like ‘intercultural exchange’ rather than just to be taught at. A foot in the door would be to join a program to learn French at one of the numerous French Academies and then look around while you are there. Eurocentres are also have many quality language learning centres throughout France and Europe.
Salary & Cost of Living:
For universities you may get $18,000 per year and benefits, but these jobs are competitive. You may be employed just to teach at certain hours in a language school and receive about half of that. As a casual teacher expect about $700-1000 per month for 15-20 hours of business classes or private teaching (no benefits). The hourly rates are good (top teachers can command up to $38) but the problem is travelling and fitting that in around students’ schedules; meaning it’s difficult to do more than 20 hours per week.
Classroom & Work Culture:
You will be expected to be prepared, professional and knowledgeable. If you are newly qualified and not confident with teaching complex grammar or explaining pronunciation, you might struggle in France because the students will have high expectations of their teachers. Learn to speak some French to get along better with other staff members and to be included in the team.