Teaching English in France

A colorful street scene in France.TEFL/TESOL in France

France is without doubt a beautiful country; laid back and vibrant at the same time. It attracts many visitors from abroad, a lot of whom fall in love and decide to stay there forever and the country is home to expats of all nationalities.

Having said this there is sometimes an issue with anti-English attitudes; if you know French or at least can learn the basics before you go this will help.

Requirements

The general basic requirements to teach in France are a degree and a TEFL Certificate such as the ICAL TEFL Certificate. Experience will also help a lot in securing work, especially if it is in teaching Business English‏‎ where there is high demand.

In fact, the value of experience cannot be overlooked and you will sometimes find that employers are looking more for a confident, pleasant teacher with experience than a highly qualified teacher.

Because of the proximity to the United Kingdom many British teachers come over and meet school owners face-to-face before securing work; the result is that school owners now expect to meet potential teachers for an interview beforehand and hiring directly over the internet without a face-to-face interview is less common.

Note that being part of the European Union‏‎ it is difficult for non-EU citizens to get a visa and work permit to stay there unless you are highly qualified and experienced and manage to find a school to sponsor you. Most foreign English teachers teachers in France are therefore British or Irish.

Pay & Conditions

Wagesare not high and start at about €1200 ($1517 USD, £965) per month in Paris (slightly less outside the capital). Remember to check if this is nett or gross as social security can take a further 20% from this. LIkewise, check if you will be paid during holidays as this can amount to almost 2 months a year!

However, Paris is also one of the most expensive cities in the world and a tiny studio apartment will be around €700 ($885 USD, £563) per month to rent.

Private lessons, when they can be found, pay about 50% more than schools.

Another problem with working in a school is the hours. You'll be expected to work evenings and weekends and if you're teaching business, you may well be required to travel to different companies across town for in-house training. (Check if this travel time is paid or not!)

Schools often employ teachers freelance (auto-entrepreneur status) and have many teachers so it's worth approaching all the schools in your area to try and find work as they will often take on new staff and then ease them into teaching with a few hours here and there. If you are staying in France long-term then getting freelance status is usually more profitable, however for short-term stays it is a pain in terms of bureaucracy.

As mentioned above, business English is in high demand and this can often be 1-to-1‏‎ lessons. In larger cities like Paris there is a high demand for teachers. This is helped by French labor laws which requires employers to provide training to their employees; often this is fulfilled through English lessons.

Schools & Other Teaching Positions

In France there are number of major chains of language schools. These are often useful for getting a foothold in the industry but don't always pay well. One common route is to start off in a chain school and then once established, move into a smaller (and often friendlier) school.

Another alternative - outside the many small private language schools - is the local university which often runs language courses. Approaching them directly is usually the best way to go here. Also remember that sometimes local councils offer English language courses so it may well be worth visiting the local town hall and seeing if there is any need for native English teachers there.

Methodology

France is fairly traditional (some would say, backward) when it comes to EFL‏‎ teaching and methodology. You will often find that your students will expect more traditional activities and within the school there may well be some resistance to more modern methods. In this regard a decent knowledge of grammar‏‎ is expected and you will find students asking you potentially tricky questions!

In addition, pronunciation often plays a major part in lessons.

Useful Links

French vs English - a look at teaching French speakers English and likely problems you'll encounter

Image © MorBCN
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