The first European country to be covered in the Country Profile series is France (following on from Japan, China and Korea). It’s a beautiful country, with beautiful wine, food and people.
TEFL in France
Teaching English in Europe has some natural advantages for teachers from England, Ireland and other European countries; namely, that the visa is not an issue. Of course, there is some red tape to surmount before you can work in France as a teacher – one must apply for a social security number, and find housing et cetera. However, unlike many Asian countries, visa rejection isn’t an issue for Europeans. If you are a teacher from outside Europe (i.e. Australia, U.S.A. etc.) then things are somewhat more complicated and visa applications can take a considerable amount of time and require toing and froing between one’s home country and France.
In many of the major French cities you will find language schools. Like any language school, the teaching is varied according to the needs of the students, so you could find yourself teaching children or adults, conversation or business English. These schools generally recruit around late summertime, so look out for vacancies in September.
Another option is to become an Assistant Language Teacher in a primary or secondary school. Your work here is to assist in English language instruction, meaning you may need to explain and demonstrate material found in national curriculum course books. As these public school are maintained by the government, applications are made via a regional committee, so you won’t find specific vacancies listed for each school. Pay is secure and adequate for ALT’s and it is the most stable way into teaching English in France.
Private and Independent
Private secondary schools are a third option for teachers. As these are privately owned, you can find vacancies for individual schools. Again, summer is the peak time for recruiting, so you will either want to be in the country at that time or have a keen eye on the job market. A final choice is to teach English independently. As Europeans don’t need a visa to live in the country, it can be an easy way in, but teaching privately has some unique problems, not least of which is finding students. Students needing exam help and companies requiring business English lessons for their employees are possibilities, especially in larger cities such as Paris, Marseilles, Toulouse and Lyon.
Cultural cliches about France are abundant, but it’s safe to say that it is a country that has a lot to offer. The countryside offers stunning natural beauty and the cities are cosmopolitan and fun. The cost of living is comparable to many other European countries, although there are often fees and charges that can take away your budget, especially when moving house.
Where to find jobs
Jobs in France can be found through the British Council, or directly with the administrative authorities in France. Other specialist industry magazines and websites, as well as magazines dealing with life in France also carry advertisements.