As a major European nation boasting a proud linguistic tradition, France – like virtually everybody in the globalized, high-tech world of the 21st to adjust to a world dominated by English. As a result, demand for English language instruction is at an all-time high and thousands of language institutes and schools across the nation employ foreign English teachers annually.
Earning an accredited TEFL certification in France can make a lot of sense if you plan to stay on and teach after the course. Americans in particular should note, however, that it is not common or easy for language institutes to sponsor work visas and unlike in Spain and Italy, it is not common for Americans to gain employment while on a tourist visa. One way around this obstacle is to enroll in a part-time in language program that will qualify you for a student visa that also enables you to work. There are also a variety of summer camps and volunteer programs that Americans can participate in without having to worry about the visa issue.Photo credit: Kristoffer Trolle.
When considering your options for TEFL certification in France, bear in mind that schools and language institutes in France (and around the world) seek to hire those who hold at least a 120 hour TEFL certification that is from an accredited provider and includes live practice teaching. This equates to a four-week intensive class or a part-time equivalent. Receiving job placement assistance is also a key element that you should look for.
The majority of accredited TEFL courses in France that provide a professional level certification accepted by schools and language institutes that hire foreign English teachers are four-week intensive classes that incorporate 120-130 hours of training, including at least 6-10 hours of live practice teaching with local ESL students. All of these classes will cover critical teaching skills including teaching methodology and practices, lesson planning and classroom management.
Perhaps the most popular way that Americans teach English in France is by participating in the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF), which is a government-operated program that does provide visas. Those applying for this program will do so from their home country, so in most cases will take a TEFL course in preparation in their home nation, rather than in France itself.
When and Where to Look:
You should plan your TEFL class around primary hiring seasons in September and January, though it is certainly possible to gain employment during other parts of the year, particularly in big cities, and those who take TEFL classes in the spring can often find great opportunities to start teaching right away in English language summer camps. Job opportunities will be concentrated in larger cities such as Paris, Lyon and Marseilles. Paris is the largest market, but it is also the most popular and competitive, so it may be smart to check out other cities like Bordeaux, Toulouse and Lyon. Those looking to participate in the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) will need to file applications by January 15 for positions beginning the following August/September.
Most TEFL certification programs in France are open to fluent English speakers, ages 18 and older. However, those without a degree and non-native English speakers may be required to write an essay and/or conduct and interview with the course director. Most language schools in France seek to employ foreign English teachers with a four-year degree.
Before enrolling in any TEFL class in France (or anywhere else for that matter), you should inquire about job placement assistance, which can make or break your efforts to gain employment after your course. Top quality TEFL courses should be able to refer you to local language schools seeking to hire teachers and also to provide assistance in areas such as resume development or coaching you on the interview process. Well-established TEFL training organizations also provide worldwide job placement assistance for gaining employment teaching English in other countries.
Cost of Living:
€1000 (approximately $1,375 USD) will typically be enough to cover monthly rent and living expenses both during your TEFL course and while living and teaching English in France – of course living costs will vary by city and region and almost everything is more expensive in Paris. Housing is not typically included with tuition for a TEFL course, but most providers can assist with making housing arrangements in a local apartment (often shared by multiple students), a hostel, or possible a home-stay with a local family. The local course staff can usually provide some guidance when it comes to finding a place to live after the course. Many English teachers share an apartment with other teachers, and given that English teachers are constantly coming and going, it’s usually easy to find somebody looking to share a flat.
Expect to pay approximately €300 - €500 ($400 - $650 USD) a month in rent; getting a roommate will cut down on costs and note that rent will vary from city to city and from neighborhood to neighborhood. Most apartments are furnished.
You should count on needing €500 ($650 USD) per month to cover other expenses like food, transportation and recreation.
Salaries for English Teachers in France
Unless participating in TAPIF or working at a summer camp, in which case you will receive a set stipend, English teachers in France are typically paid by the hour. Expect to make €12- €15 ($16.50 - $20 USD) an hour to start. You should look to work 25 hours a week (class time) to make €1200 - €1500 a month, which is enough to live comfortably and cover your expenses. Giving private lessons, for which you can usually receive €15- €20 an hour, is a great way to make extra money for travel and other pursuits.