The French, and Parisians in particular, are patriotic and extremely proud of both their country and their language. In the past, the French were reluctant to learn English and other foreign languages, resulting in the impression that French people are snooty. However, things have changed in recent decades and the English language has been embraced as a stepping stone that connects France in the world of business. The good transport links between Paris and London make travel easy for businesspeople, as well as those seeking weekends away in another of Europe’s great capitals.
As such, there has been a steady rise in the popularity of learning English in France, which is particularly good news for British expats who make up a large percentage of those choosing to relocate there. While Business English has been a major source of employment for TEFL teachers in France, there has also been a rise in community classes put on through town councils. Teaching young learners has risen in popularity, with further surges in toddler and child classes projected for the coming years.
With a variety of teaching opportunities for different ages, abilities and specialist subjects, if you have a TEFL certificate, a degree and a bit of experience, it shouldn’t be hard for you to find work. However, hiring can be tricky in France with some schools giving preference to younger, fresher teachers over those with decades of experience. Having extra qualifications (such as a PGCE or DELTA) won’t necessarily make you more employable than someone with just a TEFL certificate. The French expect their teachers to be knowledgeable but also enthusiastic, willing to adapt to their teaching preferences and systems. Having more qualifications and experience won’t necessarily mean you get paid more, either. Also, many schools are now preferring freelance teachers to support and supplement their local tuition, rather than advertising for full-time TEFL positions.
Bag a position teaching English in France and you’ll be the envy of your TEFL friends. With good weather, world-famous cuisine, sophisticated culture and fashion, reliable transport systems, endless cultural attractions, relaxing scenery and bustling cities, there are certainly worst places to be. Move to France for your TEFL career and it won’t take you long to realise why this is one of the most visited countries in the world.
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Paris, Nice, Lyon, Toulouse
- Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of €1,000 – €2,000 (£926 – £1,852/$1,082 – $2,164) per month. An assistantship with The Centre International D’études Pédagogiques pays about €965 (£890/$1,048) per month. A summer position with American Village Camps pays €1170 (£1,081/$1,266) per month, or a higher rate for returning teachers. Live-in or live-out English babysitting or tutoring roles can earn you €10 – €13 (£9.25 – £12/$10.83 – $14) per hour for childcare positions, or up to €20 (£18.50/$21.66) per hour for tutoring older students. Private tutoring rates are around €15 – €25 per hour (£13.88 – £23.13/$16.24 – $27). Many teachers in full-time employment but at the lower end of the pay scale will take on private tutoring in their own time to supplement their income.
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL certificate is a minimum, and it will be almost impossible to find work without some sort of TEFL certificate.
- Prerequisite university degree: A degree in often required, in any subject, alongside a TEFL certificate.
- Term times: The school year typically runs from September to June/July.
- Currency: Euro
- Language: French
- Teaching programmes: Private Language Schools, Kindergarten Schools, Private Lessons/Tutoring, Summer Camps, Government Schools, University Positions, Corporate gigs for businesses.
- Age restrictions:Job dependant, younger teachers sometimes preferred.
- Previous teaching experience: A bit of experience is usually required.
EU nationals have an automatic legal right to live and work in France, making it a popular destination for TEFL teachers from the UK and Ireland. While your qualifications are important, in France the decision to hire is much more nuanced than looking at your CV. Aside from having a minimum amount of experience and some sort of TEFL certificate, French employers are also looking for smart, well-turned-out candidates who come across as enthusiastic and adaptable. They ideally like applicants to speak at least a little bit of French, and they’re unlikely to seal a deal until they’ve met you in person. One of the best ways to get started is by teaching in an assistant position, at a summer school, or a live-in position teaching children in a family, enabling to you interview in-person once you’re ready to move on to another role. Live-in positions are also a great way to dodge expensive rental rates while you establish your career in France.
While freelancing and flitting between private or part-time positions may be commonplace for many TEFL teachers in France, it can be hard work in the beginning. Getting enough students to make ends meet in a saturated market is hard, especially if you don’t have experience marketing yourself. One of the best roads to success is to slowly build a client base while in another position that keeps you afloat, such as assistant language teaching. The best paid positions are at universities and public schools, but are hard to come by and very tricky if you’re not proficient in French. If you want a good chance at getting hired, don’t head straight for Paris. Smaller cities are less over-run with applicants and your chances of employment are better.
Requirements for teaching English in France
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Teach in France||£926 – £1,852
($1,082 – $2,164)
When it comes to checking out your bank balance in France, it’ll be more a case of ‘ooh-er’ than ‘ooh la la’. Not only is France one of the more expensive countries to live in in Western Europe, it’s also home to some of the most expensive cities in the world. Paris is by far the most expensive city, followed by other urban hotspots such as Lyon, Nice, Marseille, and Montpellier. The high prices in cities are matched by an extravagant lifestyle. Travelling out to smaller, countryside locations will see a sharp decrease in prices, but also a reduction in job opportunities, entertainment, amenities and transport links. While transport can be a large cost in France, the service is efficient and envied by much of Europe. You get what you pay for.
One of the greatest costs of living in France is the accommodation, which can easily eat up from one third to half of your monthly salary. For cheaper options, look for listings of chamber de bonne (the maid’s quarters) which are small, top-floor studios that can be half the price of regular apartments. Shared accommodation is a great way to live somewhere nice for cheaper, or renting a room in a family home.
- Accommodation: £865 – £1,208 / $992 – $1,386
- Utilities: £99 / $113 per month
- Health insurance: All residents in France must have health insurance, either private or PUMA (the public universal insurance). If you’re working in France, social contributions (including health care) work out at about 8% of your salary. More details here. GP Visit £23 / $26.
- Monthly transport pass: £66 / $76
- Basic dinner out for two: £36 / $41
- Cappuccino in expat area: £4.07 / $4.67
- A beer in a pub: £5.62 / $6
- 1 litre of milk: £1.07 / $1.23
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.88 / $2.15
(living costs sourced from Expatistan)
“In the academic year 2014-2015, I seized the opportunity to refresh my rusty French by becoming an English Language Assistant in France. In my first year, I lived in the small town of Coutances in Normandy, working alongside local teachers at two technical high schools for pupils aged 14-18. The size of the town and my students’ low level of English came as quite a shock originally, but I soon adapted to both and grew to love them.
My classes were particularly fun because I revelled in the challenge and privilege of boosting my students’ confidence and making them see that they were more than capable of learning English. What’s more, I was able to show them how much fun it can be! In my second year, I went on to work in the east of the country. Some of the best bits of my experience in France were visiting the Christmas markets in Strasbourg and Colmar, Coutances’ “Jazz sous les pommiers” festival, Granville’s carnival, my jazz dance classes, exploring important D-Day sites with a Canadian friend and eating at crêperies (you typically choose a savoury “main course” crêpe and then a sweet one for “dessert”).
Then there was watching the horse races on the beach at Jullouville, witnessing people who are far more daring than me bungee-jump at the Viaduc de la Souleuvre, going to see friends’ plays and celebrating Thanksgiving with other assistants from around the world. I won’t ever forget all the inside jokes involving cows, donkeys, tractors and brooms, or my valiant attempts to milk a cow on a friend’s farm, either! Eastern France’s proximity to Switzerland also permitted me to visit friends there in the holidays and go hiking in stunning snowy mountains with them.“
Fiona, TEFL Org graduate
Discover more student stories from TEFL Org graduates.