Paris is a centuries-old metropolis as much as it is a modern European business hub. The appeal of Paris will leave you with no lack of things to do – soak in the wafting smell of sour cheeses and fresh meats during a stroll along Rue Mouffetard, or lose yourself in the dizzying cobblestone streets of Le Marais district. Saunter along the River Seine, or invite a friend for a bottle of wine along the bustling Canal Saint martin. Paris is a city of history, of romance, of attitude - and Paris is also a city of opportunity. As English-language demand rises each year, the demand for suitable teachers has risen exponentially in recent years.
For non-EU citizens, the barriers to entry are high. At the least, you will need a basic understanding of French, relevant teaching experience, a lot of perseverance, and usually a sponsored visa. But don’t fret: with enough initiative and an open mind, you’ll find an in and an opportunity.
For U.S. citizens aged 29 and younger, the Teaching Assistant Program in France places assistant teachers throughout public schools in France for 12-hour teaching weeks. Applications are accepted once annually for a 7-month contract beginning in October. However, placement in Paris is not guaranteed, and can only be requested. While pay is generally low ($1000-$1200 monthly), many teaching assistants supplement their income with private lessons.
Private Language Academies:
Language academies are tutoring centers specializing in language instruction, requiring an academic degree and a CELTA or equivalent teaching credential. With hundreds of active language schools throughout Paris alone, this option is a great place to start for those seeking a sponsored visa.
Because the French school system heavily favors grammar and writing, both conversational and business English are in high demand among the private sector. Companies hire instructors to teach at designated teaching centers, or at the business office itself. The French Chamber of Commerce network has many language centers that actively recruit English teachers.
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, private lessons are an outstanding (and tax-free) source to supplement your income, or even pay your way completely. You can advertise with flyers around the city, in the local paper, online, or by inquiring with any local study abroad program centers. Many teachers even host Skype workshops and online lessons – the options are as endless as you are creative. If you do choose to go private, make sure you have the credentials to back up your fees.
When and Where to Look for Jobs:
Begin your job search before the school semester begins, and before the French take off for August vacation (best time are June-July, September, and December-January). While the barriers to official employment are high due to visa regulations, after your arrival in Paris you will find opportunity is ripe. If you are applying from abroad and require a working visa, you can apply directly to language academies such as Eurolingua, Inlingua, The Wall Street Institute, and EF English First. Consider looking at the French Yellow Pages and typing in “cours de langues”, as a resource to find private academies in specific areas that may have openings. Fusac and Craigslist classifieds have a number of job postings, but are generally geared towards those in-country.
To really stand out, begin making a list of schools that interest you. Take a three-week visit in a peak hiring month like September or January, and apply to as many schools as possible. Employers are much more likely to hire candidates who visit in person. If you secure a contract, you will still need to return to your home country to complete the visa process.
Non-E.U. citizens require a sponsored visa to work. Sponsored visas are especially difficult to attain, as priority is placed on French and then European candidates. Citizens of Canada, Australia and New Zealand may apply directly for a working holiday visa, which grants legal right to work in France for a limited time.
Official teaching posts within Language Academies or the French Government require a Bachelor’s degree and CELTA or equivalent TEFL certificate. Private hourly lessons are generally quite lucrative, and often only require a fluency in English and a basic understanding of grammar. Additionally, some command of the French language will be necessary to navigate your way in classrooms, with students, among colleagues, and while searching for a job.
Salary and Cost of Living:
Teaching English in Paris is not highly profitable. While in peak months teachers may find themselves with more work than time, slower months leave many teachers scrambling for more than a few hours of work each week. For 15-20 hours of work with an academy or language school in season, expect between $1,200 and $1,600. Private lessons can range from $20 - $40 per hour depending on credentials, but accommodating many different schedules can become time consuming.
As for the cost of living, renting a single room in a shared flat will begin at around $700, and can surpass $2000. In general, $1650 per month is the absolute minimum needed for an enjoyable, if not frugal lifestyle in Paris.
Classroom and Work Culture:
Students have high expectation of their teachers; play it safe by being professional and prepared. Depending on what option you choose, you will likely be teaching students that range from young children to the elderly. Make sure to dress business casual in the classroom, and maintain a friendly formality among colleagues and students. As you begin to get a feel for your individual circumstance, you might ask colleagues about acceptable interactions with students. A basic level of French will be highly appreciated by your colleagues and students alike.