Looking for a sophisticated locale for your next teaching job? France has a lot to offer English-speakers, who are highly sought after to compliment the extremely well-run French education system. If you have a strong background in teaching and several years of relevant work experience, teaching in France will offer you the opportunity to round out your resume.
Children as young as nine months old are taught conversational English, and there are ample opportunities to contribute to learners of all ages. In addition, many French companies have recognized the importance of English language tuition for staff, and teachers with experience in key industrial areas are in high demand.
With a wide range of cities and positions available, teaching in France offers you the opportunity to experience the fantastic French culture, and to gain valuable experience operating from within one of the world’s most revered education systems.
Private Elementary & Secondary Schools
French private elementary and secondary schools are competitive, and expect a lot from their teaching staff, but offer a fantastic environment in which to continue to develop. Schools are extremely well-resourced and staff are motivated, with an engaged student body and lots of opportunities to learn about the French curriculum.
Private English Language Schools
Private English language schools are a little more flexible on their qualification requirements. They’ll usually expect you to hold a Bachelor's degree -– any degree –- and have a Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) qualification, plus relevant work experience. You can still try and apply if you hold a lesser teaching qualification, but some schools may choose not to recognize it.
Tutoring for the Workforce
The French Chamber of Commerce and large private companies hire native English speakers in an effort to up-skill specific groups within the workforce. If you hold particular expertise in an area like marketing, engineering, or the medical sector, you may want to consider teaching English to adults in a workplace setting.
Teaching Assistant Programs
Several organizations, such as the Alliance Francaise, offer Teaching Assistant positions for up to seven months. If you are a fluent French speaker, this is a great opportunity to gain experience in France and see if you enjoy living immersed in the culture. This type of role is geared toward young college graduates and does not require a specific qualification beyond a Bachelor’s degree, only proficiency in the French language.
If you're wanting to move to France, you'll need to make sure you are appropriately qualified for a role in the country. The French expect a very high standard of education from their teaching staff, and you'll need to make sure your documentation is accredited before you start the application process.
When to Apply for Jobs in France
Most schools in France will work out their upcoming teacher requirements in the first quarter of the year, advertising for teachers during the summer months. The academic year begins in September. If you would like to work in a private English language school or as a business tutor, you are able to contact an employer at any stage of the academic year, as they tend to constantly take on new teachers as needed. You should allow at least six months to go through the entire visa approval process.
How to Apply for Jobs in France
The vast majority of roles are advertised online, even in the smaller towns and cities of France. If you are interested in tutoring English in a company, you can also contact the local French Chamber of Commerce, who may be able to connect you with a local organization seeking a tutor. There are also many jobs for English private language schools available through Go Overseas. When applying online, you can expect to supply accredited versions of your degrees, and this will typically be followed up by a phone or Skype interview.
Average Salary of Teaching Jobs in France
Teachers that are degree-qualified can expect to earn upwards of €1,700 per month, depending on their relevant skills and experience. Housing, travel, and accommodation allowances are not generally included in salary packages. While salaries for private English language schools are less, they shouldn't be less than €1,200 per month.
The French education system has high standards, and this is reflected in their qualification requirements. To teach at an elementary or secondary school, you are required to hold a Bachelor's degree in your area of specialization, though a Master's degree is preferred, as well as a license to teach in your home country. To work as a TEFL teacher, you are expected to hold a Bachelor’s degree (not necessarily related to teaching), relevant work experience of at least two years, and a CELTA or equivalent qualification.
The hardest part of moving to France -- except the long-winded and strict visa process, of course -- is choosing where to go. Luckily, you have plenty of choices, and teaching in France no longer means you are confined to Paris.
Popular Destinations to Teach in France
Paris is, of course, the most popular destination for teachers heading to France. However, it is also the most competitive city to find a job in, and the most expensive. Many teachers are now starting to look further afield, with teaching opportunities available in, for example, Lyon, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Grenoble, and Montpellier.
Lyon is popular with teachers interested in tutoring adults in a business setting, and Montpellier is a great destination for elementary and secondary school teachers. Marseilles, Bordeaux, and Grenoble offer a wide range of different jobs and levels, as well as comparatively lower living costs than the city of lights.
Visas & Sponsorship
Like most countries in Europe, European Union (E.U.) citizens are the first preference for employment in France. If you’re from the E.U., you don’t require a working visa. However, if you are from a country outside of the E.U., you have to gain sponsorship through an educational institution or program to obtain a French working and teaching visa.
While this was once very difficult due to a large number of British and Irish E.U. citizens seeking work in France, Brexit may offer an opportunity for English-speaking non-E.U, citizens to obtain sponsorship. However, you should still be prepared for a lengthy process.
Teacher Work Culture in France
A successful education system requires a high standard of teaching, and the French expect a lot from their teachers. You will work long days, and it is not unusual to have to sacrifice some of your evenings and weekends. However, working in the French education system is extremely rewarding, and is a fantastic career move.
Teachers also tend to take long holidays in France, but you should be careful to check whether your salary includes paid or unpaid leave. Tutors are expected to undertake travel in their work, often moving from company to company.
Classroom Etiquette in France
The French school day is quite long, typically running from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. However, most schools take a break during the day, and some even take a break during the middle of the week, where students can dedicate a day to an extra-curricular activity. This is all dependent on the individual school.
French students are courteous and studious, and families rally behind their children’s success. This also means high engagement from parents, which can make life difficult from time to time.
Health & Safety
Many larger cities in France have racial tension issues, and certain neighborhoods are best avoided after dark. Expatriate forums are a great way of finding which areas of the city are the safest to live in and offer the best links to safe means of transport.
If you are working in a tutoring role, you should be careful to check just how much travel will be required for the job -- in a city like Paris, it is not unusual to be commuting three hours a day to reach different offices, which can be exhausting.