Teaching Assistant Program in France

By Teaching Assistant Program in France   Reviews (15)   87% Rating

Teach English in France! Are you ready to expand your cultural horizons and share your language and culture with French students? The Teaching Assistant Program in France offers you the opportunity to work in France for 7 months, teaching English to French students of all ages. Each year, nearly 1,200 American citizens and permanent residents teach in public schools across all regions of metropolitan France and in the overseas departments of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Reunion.

What Do Assistants Do?

Assistants are assigned a 12-hour per week teaching schedule that may be divided among up to three establishments. Classes are conducted in English. The teaching assistant may conduct all or part of a class, typically leading conversations in English. Duties may include serving as a resource person in conversation groups, providing small group tutorials, and giving talks related to American studies in English classes.

Apply online between Oct. 15 and Jan. 15

Locations
Europe › France › Nice
Length
6-12 Months
Salary / Benefits
Teaching assistants receive a gross monthly salary of 952.45 euros from which deductions for mandatory health insurance and French social security are taken, resulting in a net salary of roughly 780 euros (approximately USD 1,013). The stipend provides enough money to live the lifestyle of a typical French student. Teaching Assistants do not receive any additional support for travel to France or to support dependents. Personal funds are needed for the initial period of the grant.
Other Locations
Other Rural Areas

Questions & Answers

You don't have program specific housing; you find it and use your salary to pay for it independently.
Hi Elridge-Etienne, It really depends on your school. Several assistants (myself included) were offered free or reasonably-priced apartments/living quarters by our schools while others were left to fi...
Hi Camilla-Molloy Average pay comes out to about 790 euros per month, though it is a bit higher depending on where you are placed. You get 8 weeks of paid vacation and only have to work 12 hours a wee...
You must have an intermediate proficiency in French to participate. Hope that helps!
You need a minimum B1 level of proficiency and have someone who can write letter of recommendation vouching for your language abilities (such as a French professor). They basically want to know you wi...

Rating Values

  • Benefits
    71%
  • Support
    67%
  • Fun
    69%
  • Facilities
    85%
  • Safety
    92%

Program Reviews (15)

Rachel
Female
26 years old
Stamford, CTO
Southern Connecticut State University

Challenging, but worthwhile

Overall 8

I participated in the TAPIF program during the 2014-2015 school year in two middle schools located in very rural southern France communities.

As someone with previous teaching experience (in Peace Corps and AmeriCorps), I definitely walked into TAPIF thinking that I knew what was in store for me. Turns out, I was totally wrong! The things that I thought I would have difficulty with (language, making friends, etc) were the easiest - and the most difficult was the actual job. It was difficult in the sense that there is a set curriculum for English at every level of the French education system, so there was already a plan for what I would do, what I would teach to what grades, etc. All my previous teaching positions had required a much larger amount of creativity from me, as I created the curricula, all the content, and implementation. I serious lacked this with TAPIF.

But with that being said, you only work 12 hours a week. Your job is so minimal that you have so much time to make the most of your year abroad. I took yoga classes, traveled, read so many books, go to concerts.. As long as you're willing to roll with the punches and make lemonade out of a few lemons (if you happen to stumble across them!), you'll cherish this year in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

How can this program be improved?
There should be more coordination between the regional language director (the person who places you in your schools, hosts the trainings, and is your general contact for any questions / concerns during the year) and the school in which you work. The schools often lacked or misunderstood the fundamentals of what the English Teaching Assistant position was supposed to be. For example, as a teaching assistant at the elementary level, I was never supposed to be alone in the classroom - but often found myself that way when teachers would utilize that time to make copies or plan for a later class. Problems like these were easily resolved once I spoke with the regional language director, but could easily be resolved if participating school teachers underwent a sort of training seminar before a ETA was placed in their school.

Another thing I would change - extend the position to the entire school year! I missed out on a couple really awesome events at the end of the school year that I would have loved to go to because the program only runs October through April.
Challenging, but worthwhile
Justine
Female
26 years old
New Jersey
Rutgers University

When you won't be home for Christmas

Overall 9

I taught English in France's public school system for the 2013-2014 school year. I was a little sad about spending Christmas away from my family and having a holiday break with nothing to do since all my activities would be on hiatus.

The night before the vacation started, I asked my co-teacher what I had to prepare, and she told me just to bring myself. The next day, she brought me to the classroom to witness a grand surprise: The students had decorated the classroom, written "Merry Christmas Justine" on the board, dressed up, brought food and desserts, and chipped in money to buy me a holiday present.

They told me, in their best English, that they wanted to give me a good Christmas since I'd be away from my family. It was one of the fondest and most memorable holidays I'd ever had, and it only happened because I was experiencing the season as a foreigner.

How can this program be improved?
I wish that the program coordinators had let us know in advance how difficult it would be to find housing, as well as some general tips and tricks on how to find appropriate living arrangements.
Rashaad
Male
36 years old
New Jersey
Coppin State University

A fast, fun and crazy way of working and living abroad

Overall 7

When I arrived in France to work as an assistant English teacher at a high school in Rouen, I didn't know what to expect. Neither France nor teaching was new to me - but teaching and living in France would be a unique experience. However, I was sure that I would get adjusted to the teaching aspect of living in France.

The teaching was no problem. As for the living aspect of my French stay... things I took for granted in the United States were just a little different in France. Such as swimwear attire - I was thrown out of a public swimming pool in France because my boxer-length swimming trunks were "prohibited." As soon as I was told that, I noticed all of the other guys were wearing speedos. And of course, dealing with all the bureaucracy was frustration.

But where else can you be considered cool, work 12 hours a week, treat yourself to delicious cheese and be charmed by people with a sexy accent? As well as get kissed by cute people on the cheek. You can also protest with students at your school and be invited to hang out with them afterwards. And have plenty of time to explore a beautiful country and continent. There's only one job in one country.

How can this program be improved?
I would change a couple of things. First, I would change the length of the contract. When I was an assistant in France, the assistants (working at high schools) had seven-month contracts. I wish we had eight or nine month contracts. Also, I would have like to have worked more than 12 hours a week. There were weeks when I worked eight or nine hours per week and that was too few.
Kaleena
Female
26 years old
Seattle, WA
Oberlin College

TAPIF: A Fun French Challenge

Overall 10

I spent eight months teaching in France through TAPIF (Teaching Abroad Program in France). It was a challenging experience--I worked in a small town in the middle of no where--but one I wouldn't trade for anything.

Everyone who does this program will have a different experience. A lot of it depends on where you are placed--in a big city or a small town. It also depends a lot on if you are placed with other assistants or alone (as I was). At the beginning I was really anxious about living alone in this tiny town but it was a priceless experience, especially for developing my French. I lived with two French teachers--one of which was also new to town. My French improved dramatically over the eight months that I spent there. Another bonus of small town living is that it's cheap!! So I was able to take the generous time off (you only work 12 hours a week + there is an academic break of two weeks every six weeks) to travel and explore Europe.

Yes it was challenging. It could be hard to be alone. But I was able to do and see so much. I would definitely recommend this program, but advise prospective applicants that it's a growing experience and that it wouldn't be without certain challenges.

How can this program be improved?
I would make it easier for assistants to connect with each other.
Amy
Female
25 years old
Chicago, IL
Valparaiso University

Why you need to go abroad- My year with TAPIF

Overall 8

Besides the fact that an experience abroad will allow you to: discover a new way of living, expand your global perspective, or perhaps altogether destroy your comfort zone. You need to go abroad to discover a strength.

I was recently completing an interview and one of the questions included, "What has been your most impactful travel experience?" I didn't hesitate in saying that it has been my year in France.

Anyone who I've shared with, knows just how much of a roller coaster this year has been. When I made the decision to come to France, it was the riskiest thing I had ever decided to do. I was making a decision that would be taking me away from my family, my friends, and my way of life. It seemed like I was turning my life upside down and the scariest thing was that I didn't know if it would be worth it.

I had a good setup in Chicago but I wasn't happy. What I had before France wasn't fulfilling, otherwise I wouldn't have even filled out the application.

Compared to my previous travels, my journey to France was a solo one. I came to a country without a support system and without a set of guidelines as to what awaited me. However, I can't say that I didn't know to some extent what I was getting myself into, because not knowing what the year would bring was one of the attractions. I liked the idea of unpredictability.

And it has very much been an unpredictable year.

I would have never pegged myself as someone who got homesick, but this year has changed that. I've missed my family and friends more than I could ever express in words. I was also never a person who drew into herself, but on more than one occasion that was the case. I have been pushed beyond what I could handle, I have further understood the meaning of humility, and I've experienced isolation.

To be honest, there are many things that this year brought me face to face with that I would have never willingly put myself through. But, I also know that I have never felt stronger. This year has given me a self-assuredness that I have never possessed and I will not take that for granted.

TAPIF brought me a renewed perspective and a firm belief that I can handle anything brought before me. This program is good for anyone willing to take a solo challenge. Though you have "some" initial advising from program administration, you must be prepared to handle the unexpected on your own. TAPIF will bring you to meet people from all parts of the world who are also assistants and they will become your friends and support system. I am still in contact with the few that became my guidance for that year of surprises we endured. If you're interested in pursuing a career in education at any level, learning about a different educational system on an international level from the point of view of teachers and students is refreshing and humbling. You get to collaborate with dedicated educators who really want the best for their students and while improving your language skills.

To go abroad is to take a leap of faith. Yes, it can seem risky but the risk has the potential to yield something amazing. You're taking on a challenge that many wouldn't consider and it can allow you to become the best version of yourself.

It is going to come with unexpected struggles and some days will make you question your sanity for going in the first place. But, without a doubt it was one of the best things I could have done for myself.

Take the leap.

How can this program be improved?
I think TAPIF has a desire to become one of France's leading cultural exchange programs, but it lacks organization. Each year the program receives about 1200 assistants from many parts of the world but they are not equipped to work with that number. In the time I have been here, there have been assistants who went home due to poor or complete lack of school support. I know the experience will not be suited for everyone, but the conversations I have that focus around this issue are more than I expected.

One of the issues is the missing aspect of cultural education the expecting host schools and teachers receive about their assistants. I do think this is an important aspect because I strongly believe if a program wants to be a cultural exchange initiative then the exchange must occur on both sides.

Some of the other challenges include: supervision of application materials, no city orientation, being paid late, unclear/mixed messages about administrative tasks (e.g. pay, social security, transportation, visa info).

The expectations of our host schools versus our said responsibilities under the program administration are not always on the same page. There's constantly two messages being given on any given matter and they are at conflict with each other. It's simply unsettling.

From my perspective, I would have a hard time speaking about the program management in the best light. I have to be very frank and I think that is only fair, especially for future assistants who may find themselves in a similar situation.
Rebekah
Female
27 years old
Cleveland, OH
American University

Amazing Experience!

Overall 8

The TAPIF is an amazing program for people who can already speak French and who want to spend more than a semester living abroad. You need practically no teaching experience and if you've worked with kids before and are fairly independent, you'll have a great experience.

There isn't a lot of training or guidance from the program as to how to teach or what you need to do administratively/bureaucratically. I had to do a lot of research online for lesson ideas. The good news was that I worked in 2 different high schools so my students were relatively advanced and we could spend our time mostly talking or doing fun activities. I would definitely recommend working outside Paris (or larger cities) as the teachers who are the main contacts seem to be more involved with their assistants. I was lucky and had a housing option (not at the school) already lined up if I wanted it by my teacher in charge. I also got the chance to know most of the other assistants working in my city (English-speaking and non-English speaking) as well as French people my own age and I got to see parts of France that most people don't see.

How can this program be improved?
More involvement/information on teaching as well as administrative tasks that the French government needs doing during and after the program.
Angelica
Female
28 years old
Virginia
Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Best time of my life

Overall 10

I did this program twice and it truly was the best two years of my life. I ended up placed in Lorraine on the border of France and Germany in a small city (both years) at a different high school each year. I know I got lucky, because my schools offered me a very nice two-bedroom apartment for free, and reduced price meals in the cafeteria. This was pretty common in my region, though.
In my city, there were three schools with TAPIF assistants and each school had an English and German assistant, so my roommates were German both years, which was really cool. (I shared the apartment with the German-speakers.) I wouldn't say the social life was incredible if you're thinking about going out and parties and things like that, but I was close with the assistants in my city and some nearby cities and it was an opportunity to meet some of the most like-minded, awesome people from all over the world. We still keep in touch and two of them I consider best friends - we still talk all the time. I lived at the crossroads of Europe and it seemed like people were always traveling, so there are always couchsurfers, students, etc. to meet, too. I got a chance to meet a lot of people when I was travelling as well, and I visited over a dozen countries. Every two months, we had a two week paid vacation. Even when we worked, it was only 12 hours a week, so there was plenty of free time.
My experience with the locals was not overwhelmingly positive. I had some minor issues with some staff at the schools (not English teachers) not being very nice (one woman was our neighbor and complained about us a lot, and another staff in the administrative office made fun of my French). Most of the English teachers were pretty friendly, some much more than others, but I never really got close with anyone. I actually never got close with anyone French at all, but I had a lot of friends. Frankly, my German roommates and the land right across the border stole my heart, and I ended up learning German and feeling more at home there. I struggled with the bureaucracy in France, too.
Some of my students (high school level) were awful, disrespectful in class, and one group even made fun of me. But I also had wonderful students who were AMAZING and so much fun. Both were kind of on extreme ends of the spectrum though; I felt that most French teenagers just seemed awkward and nervous. I worked with several English teachers and I usually saw each group of students once a week for an hour. Every teacher had their own rules. One teacher asked me to sit in her class and assist. Another teacher or two just sent me 2-3 students for oral exams each hour, and I graded them. Most other teachers let me plan my own lessons and do whatever I wanted. It was a tremendous amount of freedom, which I almost always enjoyed, but it could also be overwhelming for someone with no teaching background/experience or uncertainty about planning lessons. I wasn't given a book or anything. I loved that though, and I took lessons in a lot of different directions. We translated a pancake recipe French --> English and cooked American food with one group; we analyzed pictures in English and talked about discrimination issues with another... it was all so much fun.
I got a decent, if modest, amount of emotional practical support from the schools. The teacher responsible for me the first year... we never clicked at all, but she was there when I needed her. The teacher next year was much warmer. Generally, I can't say anything bad because they both helped me when I needed help, and staff would try to pass on other opportunities to me (field trips I could go on, opportunities to help two hours a week at a primary school after school program, things like that). I'd also add that the US TAPIF staff person in Washington was amazing, though I never had a whole lot of regular contact with her.
I got to experience TWO different cultures and see a French school from the inside. I got to meet amazing people from everywhere. I improved my French and learned German. I made wonderful friends. I loved the opportunities to travel, and all the programs I got to participate in... I au paired in the summers, did the WWOOF program, tutored the sweetest little boy. History and culture and all kinds of amazing things were everywhere around me. I felt safer there than I ever did in the US, although I walked everywhere. I loved the food, I loved the holidays in France... I absolutely loved the whole experience, I think about these two years all the time. I am happy now, but this was really the best time in my life (so far).
I also appreciated the level of freedom. I guess some international programs have more restrictions, but we were totally on our own (travelling, coming and going, etc.). I would also add that all of this is MY personal experience, of course. I'm sure a lot depends on where you are placed, because I met or heard of a few who were in small towns with limited transportation out, schools that provided them only a dorm room, things like that. I knew a couple assistants who weren't as happy as me, but I think in most cases it was more about their personalities (easily homesick, really "American," unsure in new situations, etc.). I think if you come into the program with the "right" attitude and an open mind, you'll be happy anywhere you go. Because really, you work 12 hours a week and the rest of the time you just get to be in France. :)

How can this program be improved?
In a way, it would have been nice to have a bit more help with certain things... but I think that might come at the expense of freedom, and I wouldn't recommend that trade.
Kathryn
Female
35 years old
Versailles, France
San Diego State University

Best year of my life

Overall 9

While the teaching was challenging, this program is an amazing immersion experience. I got very lucky with my placement and housing, met local friends, and had the best year of my life. I loved it so much that I found a way to stay and have made my life in France for 7 years now.

How can this program be improved?
Better preparation/guidelines (in terms of teaching I had no clue what I was doing and there was no course program provided).
Stephanie
Male
37 years old
New Orleans
Other

Best Year of My Life

Overall 10

I lived and worked for a year in northern France, and I continue to think of it as a greatly rewarding experience. The expectations of cultural immersion were highly beneficial for both me and the students I taught. At the end of the year, when I saw how we all rose to our challenges, it was deeply touching and satisfying. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

How can this program be improved?
I would ensure all employees of this program had free housing. Some did, and that was great. Others had subsidized housing, also good. But some had no help, which was a burden.
Diana
Other

A truly life changing experience, non, literally

Overall 7

I completed the French Teaching Assistant Program from 2008-2010 after graduating from college. I spent the first year in Bergerac (24) and the second year in Bordeaux (33) teaching in primary schools. This program definitely has its merits. It allows one to spend 10 months in France and gain English language teaching experience without having a specific certification (a BA is required for Americans). However, one only works part time so, compared with other English language teaching programs, the stipend/salary isn't very much (no money for travel or restaurants). One is supposed to request subsidies for housing but these often take time to kick in making initial outlays a bit expensive. If you come with savings or another source of income, it's a great way to spend a fair amount of time in Europe and get to travel (2 wks off every 6 weeks).

It should be noted that starting as a teaching assistant doesn't mean you can actually become a real English teacher in a junior or high school. This is a much more complicated process, requiring ever more knowledge of the English canon, degrees and passing competitive national exams. It may even require having French nationality. Therefore, one should definitely not assume that working in the Education nationale is a logical next step.

How can this program be improved?
There is some training offered to language assistants but not very much on classroom discipline. This would be helpful for those who are not completely comfortable in French.
Carmela
Other

So nice I've done it twice

Overall 8

After graduating college, the options for living in European countries for more than a couple of months at a time are slim to none. That's just one of the advantages of TAPIF - you can live abroad after oportunities to study abroad have run out. Plus, with 12 hours of teaching per week, you'll still have ample time to explore your new ville, travel Europe and go out with the new people you're bound to meet.

Aside from all that, TAPIF is a great experience because you can actually support yourself financially while chasing that dream of living abroad and perfecting your French. (Admittedly, in the Paris region you'll need roommates and a good budget to get by on the teaching assistant salary, but I've worked in Ile-de-France both years I've done the program and managed to make it work!)

In my opinion, the only downside of the program is that you can only participate twice. If you're interested in travel and speak a little French -- especially if you're also thinking about teaching and want to have a year of student teaching before deciding on it as a career -- this program is the best thing to do.

How can this program be improved?
Other than the opportunity to participate more than two times, the program could be improved by allowing assistants an option to take up a few more teaching hours to augment the salary.
Alannah
Other

lasting impression

Overall 10

There are not enough words in the english dictionary to describe what a fantastic experience this was.

I was very nervous moving to a foreign country where I wasn't completely fluent in the language and where I didn't have any friends or family. After the initial nerves and making friends with another assistant on my flight, France was everything I had hoped it would be and more.

The very first night there, I managed to lock myself out of my temporary apartment building - in my pajamas! I was looking for my landlord's postbox so I could knock on his door and tell him the internet was down. Thankfully I remembered the passcode after a few tries and managed to get back to my room before anyone saw me and my blue bombers t-shirt.

Teaching was a completely new experience to me and while it's not something I see as a career for myself, it definitely scratched off one of the things on my 'things to try' list.

Plus the travel opportunities are extensive! You can take the OUIbus from Paris to Cologne one-way for less than 20 euros. I had a fantastic Christmas holiday in Germany and the Czech Republic for under 300 euros.

While I miss the travel opportunities and the baguettes, what I miss most of all is the friends I made while there. The assistant that I roomed with initially and met at the airport prior to leaving for France, has become a life-long friend. I couldn't have gotten through the first month without her.

How can this program be improved?
The support system could be better and the forms we had to fill out and send in were hard to understand. If they could go over each form, how to fill it out and what to expect from the OFII appointment, it would save a lot of people from confusion. frustration and embarrassment.
Matthew
Male
26 years old
Minnetonka, Minnesota

La Francophonie - Explore France Outside of France!

Overall 9

When one thinks of France, the first thing that comes to mind isn't usually palm trees, beaches, the Amazon rainforest or volcanoes. And yet, through the program TAPIF, I have been able to encounter all of these things, while living in France. How can that be? Thanks to France's DOM-TOMs (départements et territoires d'autres mer), I have been able to explore different aspects of the French culture which are often overlooked and, in my opinion, highly underappreciated - not to mention the absolutely breathtaking scenery and nature.

Currently in my second round of the program, I am living in the city of Maripasoula in French Guiana, where my school is located one street over from the entrance to the Parc Amazonien de Guyane. I also live along the Maroni River, which serves as the border with Suriname. My first TAPIF experience was in 2013-2014 on the island of Réunion, in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. Unique in their own ways, each experience has allowed me to view a different permutation of French culture that is so often viewed as the ubiquitious image of a caricatured Paris (baguettes, cafés, cobblestone streets, la Tour Eiffel, etc.) . It has been fascinating to see how certain elements of French culture mix and morph to form identities that are so drastically different from metropolitan France, and yet, still 100% authentically French.

Whether in mainland France or elsewhere, I would highly recommend this program. Not only for those looking to improve their French-speaking abilities, but also for those seeking personal growth and professional development. Above all, I would recommend this program for the people and the meaningful relationships I have been able to cultivate.

How can this program be improved?
The majority of the difficulties I have faced as a language assistant have occurred after my contact with TAPIF. Meaning that after you receive your Arret de Nomination, you are essentially in the hands of le Rectorat/French government and have little contact with TAPIF from that point forward.

Nonetheless, one of the biggest and most recurring problems I have noticed among the language assistants has been with the "professeur référent", the person who serves as your first form of contact once you find out what school(s) you will be working at. Some are very responsive and very helpful at finding housing and helping you feel welcome, while others can be unresponsive and provide little assistance. I think that selecting an appropriate "professeur référent" is one of the most important elements of the placement process.
Lucy
Female
31 years old
San Francisco
University of Oregon

I loved it so much I did it twice!

Overall 9

I was first introduced to the Teaching Assistant Program in Lyon, France when I was studying at the Political Science Institute in Lyon and wanted to make some money and gain a bit of teaching experience. I applied through the French Ministry of Education and was sent to a High School in rough banlieu (suburb) community. There was no training whatsoever, however, I quickly formed relationships with French teachers and designed lesson plans based on observing students interests and educative levels. The classrooms could be loud and unruly but I loved the challenge and gained great leadership skills.

The year after, I was sent to teach in two welfare Elementary schools in Ales, France. Again, the assistants received little training and were thrown into classrooms of all different shapes and sizes, but I quickly adapted and connected with the kids. I preferred working in Elementary schools because the younger generation had more enthusiasm and seemed to pick up English really quickly. I came back to the States with my bags full of kids drawings and letters and am still in contact with many of the French teachers. It's definitely not for everyone because of the little structure and low pay, but I found it to be a truly enriching experience.

How can this program be improved?
Although the teaching English program is only 12 hours a week, I wish this job had more hours and better pay. It can be hard to find a job on the side and many people found it hard to earn enough money for room and board.
Amanda
Female
39 years old
Chicago, IL
University of Wisconsin- Madison

Teaching in France changed my life!

Overall 9

I had studied abroad in Grenoble during college and when I left, I knew I had to go back after graduation no matter what. I fortunately found out about being an English Teaching Assistant just weeks before graduation, applied and was accepted about a month later to teach elementary school students in a small town outside of Lyon called Vienne. It was AMAZING!! I had no idea what I was doing at first as I had no teaching experience but I love kids. I was amazed how much I learned about myself and what I could do when I put my mind to it. I even created small quizzes for my students so they could see how much they'd learned as well. In addition to the challenges and benefits of teaching, I made life-long friends. The woman who was assigned to be my contact person in town is now my "French Mom" who I keep in touch with still, 10 years later, and who I know will be in my life forever. There were other assistants in the same town who I still talk to as well. One other American and I made a pact while there to only speak French together so that we could immerse ourselves as best as possible. We still only speak French together! While we didn't get paid all that much to teach there, the experience I had and the relationships I made are things I would never take back. It truly shaped me and made me into the person I am today!

About The Provider

Teach English in France! Are you ready to expand your cultural horizons and share your language and culture with French students? The Teaching Assistant Program in France offers you the opportunity to work in France for 7 to 9 months, teaching English to French students of all ages. Each year, nearly 1,500 American citizens and permanent residents teach in public schools across all regions of metropolitan France and in the overseas departments of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion.

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