When people think of France they generally think of Paris, Provence, or the Côte d'Azur. Few people, when they plan their move to France, think of Lyon (pronounced lee-on). And yet, for ESL/TEFL teachers, working in Lyon has a number of distinct advantages over working in the French capital.
As France’s third largest city, Lyon has many of the perks of a large city, with less of the disadvantages. For example, it’s cheaper to live in Lyon versus Paris and it’s easier to get around, as there are 4 metro lines, and bike-riding is not synonymous with having a death wish. Besides the metro and the vélo’v, there are also trains, trams, buses, electric buses and an excellent airport to make traveling to Italy, Switzerland, and many other places quite accessible.
Plus, there’s plenty of work for ESL/TEFL teachers! Teachers will not only enjoy teaching in a beautiful location, but will have many opportunities to learn from the French culture and explore their surroundings.Photo credit: Fred_78.
For entry level jobs, this is a great option. Consider it as an apprenticeship – the work is time-consuming and poorly paid (if you include travel time, preparation and report-writing), but if you love teaching English to a variety of keen and enthusiastic adult learners, it is incredibly rewarding. There are many language schools in and around Lyon.
Universities and Business Schools
Surprisingly enough, it is not terribly difficult to secure a job in one of France’s numerous government universities and ‘grandes écoles,’ (the elite, privately-run universities and business schools). There is a huge demand for native speakers to deliver a range of courses to their students.
The French are realizing the value of learning English from a very young age and as such, there are numerous jobs available such as private nannies/au pairs or working in children’s language centers. If you enjoy working with young children, Lyon offers some great opportunities.
Private tutoring/private lessons
Another option for teachers is giving private lessons. Rates of pay vary but as a native English speaker you could reasonably ask for, and expect to get around $25-30 per hour. You can advertise on sites such as Leboncoin.
Public School System
It is usually quite difficult to obtain a job in a French government school as teachers usually require French qualifications. Nevertheless the Ministry of Education provides a number of Teaching Assistant positions each year.
When and Where to Look for Jobs
Finding work prior to your arrival in France can be difficult since few jobs are advertised online. The best way to find work in France is by word of mouth or sending out CVs to language schools and universities.
When to Apply
Peak hiring times would be at the start of each semester: December and September. The worst time is during the summer break (July/August) when France effectively shuts down and goes on holiday.
It all depends where you want to teach but generally a bachelor’s degree and a CELTA/TEFL certificate are sufficient. For private tutoring you only need to be able to speak English. For some of the more competitive jobs (which afford better pay), a number of years of teaching experience and a master’s degree wouldn’t go astray.
Salary and Cost of Living
The average cost of rent in Lyon is $460-580 per month and food is quite affordable-- particularly if you shop at the open air markets which are dotted around Lyon most days of the week.
Monthly salaries vary widely but expect to earn 25-50€ an hour depending on place of employment (You will need to pay at least 30% of your income in various taxes and charges). For private lessons you can charge 25 -30€ an hour. Work can be sporadic so it is advisable to have another source of income or savings, at least initially.
Although Lyon is generally a cheaper place to live than many other cities, the high taxes can bite into your income quite substantially. If you can live frugally and enjoy hard work, you might be able to save, rather than break even with your salary.
Americans and non EU/EEA/Swiss citizens will need permission to work in France and they’ll need the authorization before a visa/residence permit can be granted. Most of the time, a job will need to be arranged before you can apply for a permit, but don't worry-- this procedure is organized by a prospective employer.
If you’re going to work in France for less than 90 days, you need your employer to get you a temporary work permit approved by the French Ministry of Labour. If you’re planning on working for more than 90 days/3 months, you need to apply for a long-stay visa, which also acts as your residence permit.
For more information on which Visa to apply for, Expatica lists different options for Au Pairs, scientists, student interns and more.