It can be very rewarding to teach in France, whether as a full time teacher, or as a teaching assistant. Most people travel to France to work as an English as a foreign language teacher, and take on short-term to longer contracts. Before making plans for a potential career in France, or even just a short break to gain experience of teaching abroad, it’s worth reviewing what qualifications you’ll need, how to get the right job, and what to expect once you’re working, as well as how you can take advantage of travelling within France.
Get the Right Qualifications
To teach English in France, you’ll need to have a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate, as well as a general proficiency in French – an A Level qualification is typically fine, but having a Bachelor’s degree in some area related to your teaching, from French to English Literature, can also help your chances.
Make Trips for Interviews
To really get a sense of what jobs are available, you’ll need to combine online searching with a trip to a particular French location. There you can arrange for interviews, and try to hit as many different schools and agencies as possible. Doing so can be worth the effort, given the competitiveness in large cities like Paris for jobs, and the benefits of having a one-to-one interview.
Look for Other Opportunities to Teach
As well as teaching in schools, you can also look into gaining experience as an English teacher in a summer camp, where you may be able to make future contacts. You can also market yourself as a private tutor for students and adult learners – in order to do so, however, you’ll need to aggressively promote yourself, and be prepared to not always get regular work. Many new teachers in France will join recruitment and teaching agencies that can try to find you placements.
Once you have managed to get yourself a position, expect a monthly, full-time teaching salary of somewhere between 1,400 to 2,000 Euros. This rate may increase if you’re teaching in and around Paris, or within other large French cities such as Marseille or Bourdeaux. Expect to teach about 10-25 hours a week, with options for additional private tuition work. New teachers are usually placed on temporary contracts, with options for renewal. Expect a relatively low income tax band, even with the recent tax increases in France.
Cost of Living
The main thing to focus on is finding out the average cost of living wherever you’re based – working and living in Paris will be more expensive than a rural post, or being based in a smaller town. Look for any accommodation tied to schools, or university accommodation that’s let out to non-students. Shared apartments and houses can cost around 250-300 Euros a month, exclusive of bills. In terms of budgeting, you can aim to spend about 40-60 Euros a week on food, and then decide on how much you want to budget for in terms of travel and going out.
Teachers in France, and especially teaching assistants, can get a lot of time off. Key holiday times during the year include the end of October, late December to early January for Christmas, late February, and April. If you do get a lot of time off, it’s worth using it to explore France. Take the time to see all you can of a city if you’re based there, and take advantage of the relatively low cost bus and train services in France to get around the rest of the country. Trips to Provence and the Cote d’Azur during the summer, or to the Rhone-Alpes in the winter, can be made more cost effective by travelling with friends, and splitting the cost of countryside gites, apartments, cottages, or lodges in the mountains.