Teaching English in France is a bit of a dream, right? Whether you’re curious about finding a rural school nestled in the Pyrenees or an International School in one of the cities like Lyon or Paris, the bread alone will be incentive enough to pack your bags and book a flight ❤️🥖. France has a whole new world to offer international ESL teachers and bread really isn’t the main attraction. They have pastries too 🥐😳.
Jokes aside, France is one of the nicest countries to spend a stint of time: mountains, quaint villages, bustling cities, vineyards, wine tastings, and a countrywide appreciation for the endless potential of butter.
And when you’re done with oohing and ahhing over all that, this is the country where even their cliches are philosophical: c’est la vie, joie de vivre and je ne c'est quoi. Let’s face it, pretty much everything sounds better in French. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most romanticized countries in the world and a place where many English teachers dream of landing a teaching abroad job.
Alright, spill! What’s the magic “teach-in-France” formula?
If you’re looking to land an English teaching job in France there are a few ways to go about it and it’s largely going to depend on where you’re from. Oh and also, that you have the golden ticket (aka a TEFL certification).
If you’re an English speaker from a European country, you can pretty much book a flight/train/boat, land on French shores and mosey around with a resume. But candidates coming from further afield are going to have to look into visas and teach abroad programs. We’ve got all the information you need on both below and links to useful resources and programs that will make relocating to France that much easier!
OKAY but I’m not European, how do I get a job teaching English in France?
Calling all Americans, Canadians, South Africans, Jamaicans, Australians…you get the idea! There are a lot of non-European native English speakers that probably want to teach English in France and for this group of people, we would steer clear of just rocking up and expecting to find a job. France is not big on hiring English teachers under the table like other countries and you might end up on a return flight before you’ve even said Bonjour! C'est évident, je suis ici pour enseigner!
Aside from Europeans, Canadians have perhaps the clearest route to teaching abroad in France as they’re eligible to apply for a working holiday visa. The visas are generally a year long and if teachers want to renew them and stay in France (and who wouldn’t want to stay in France?), they should do so two months before they expire. The only stipulations are that applicants are between 18 and 35 years old, have a Canadian passport and have sufficient financial resources to cover their set-up costs. Australians and New Zealanders should also be able to apply for a working holiday visa.
Non-EU citizens (including Canadians) can also teach English on a student visa or applying for the TAPIF program. NOTE: If you’re an American teacher, then TAPIF is most likely your best bet!
Recommended reading: My experience teaching English in France
What are the requirements to teach in France? ✅
Teaching English in France has a number of requirements. Although there are as many exceptions as there are rules. It’s generally a good idea to have a TEFL certificate and a BA degree. Some teaching experience won’t go amiss either. That being said there are plenty of voluntary positions, summer camps and even online teaching opportunities which may be slightly more lenient when it comes to your qualifications.
To sum it up: If you want to make sure you land a job teaching in France make sure you have a TEFL certificate and a degree! Otherwise, you may not get an opportunity to pack your bags and binge on baguettes.
Side note: Who said you have to teach French students while living in France, with the lowish cost of living, you could always live in France and teach online. Or use teaching online to supplement your income. All the more money for wine we say! 🍷 Just a thought!
So, when is the typical hiring season for English teachers in France? 📅
If you’re planning to teach part-time, do freelance private sessions, teach online or just volunteer to teach English in France - the chances are you can easily get hired at just about any time of the year.
A lot of local language schools and international schools prefer to hire in person around the end of the summer when school starts back (so from August to October) with a second hiring season in January.
Summer camps tend to hire from January onwards to fill their summer slots. It completely depends on the type of school you want to teach at and it’s worth doing some research around the kind of school you want to teach at and when they generally hire.
Save before you go - you’ll need start-up dollars 💸
Particularly if your game plan is to land in France and see how it goes, you are going to need to have some savings. You probably won’t use them all, but setting yourself up in a new country is rarely cheap. From bedspreads to dishes, getting an apartment to a remotely livable standard isn’t cheap. You’ll need to cover flights, deposits and well… that slightly important substance called food.
If you’re wondering how much money you need to bring, we’d say that about $3,000-$4,000 should cover everything comfortably for the first couple of months. But you could definitely survive on a lot less. Most of the money will go toward finding a place to rest your head at night and getting yourself set up in the country. If you live in Europe already, then long-haul flights won’t be a worry, but Canadian applicants are going to want to have enough money to get themselves to France.
I can’t afford Paris, what else is out there?
Plenty! Nothing brings greater joy than googling places to teach in France. The demand is such that you’re likely to have your pick of the cities. Some of the best cities to teach English in France are Toulouse, Lyon, Bordeaux, Nice, Marseille, Nantes, Montpellier and Strasbourg. But that list is by no means exhaustive!
How will I find a place to live? 🏠
One of the big tips for finding housing is to apply for CAF. This is a grant for people with low incomes or students, that could be helpful. It could be a bit of a pain and long-winded, so if you want the financial assistance be sure to apply for this as soon as you arrive. Some programs, like babylangues are happy to help their teachers with this sort of thing.
Seeking accommodation is one of the most daunting parts of landing in a new country or well, you know, continent! The best thing to do is get a cheap hostel or airbnb while you get your bearings.
Often schools will help you negotiate a better deal. It’s also wise to stay somewhere temporary until you know where you’ll be working. If you end up with two jobs at different ends of a city, plonking yourself in the middle might be the best solution.. A lot of teachers tend to get private hours in multiple schools and making sure you live somewhere that is convenient to all, is a major consideration.
Public transport can be a lovely way to spend time seeing the city and listening to podcasts… but it can soon lose it’s gloss if you’re spending a disproportionate amount of time slouched on a bus/train.
Where do I research schools? 💸
This one is easy, there are tons of jobs boards out there. Here are just a few places where you’ll be able to find jobs with French schools that might help you out!
- Pages Jaunes (or the yellow pages!)
Failing these, there is no harm in having a Google or Reddit perusal. Just because a job isn’t posted on a jobs board, it doesn’t mean nobody is hiring!
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How much can I save teaching English in France?💰
This is going to be different for everyone. The typical private tutoring session will pay between $17-$22. How much you make and save will vary from teacher to teacher, and depend on how many hours you work, if you’re willing to work at multiple schools and if you do a bit of online teaching to supplement your income.
That being said, if you’re really just there to see Europe, you can easily work lightish hours to cover the bills and spend your weekends railing around Europe. Train tickets in Europe aren’t that expensive and with a magical interrail pass - you could see a lot of the continent for a minimal expense.
Some little tips to make that teaching resume sparkle ✨
The likelihood is that you’re going to need to send your CV/resume around to schools. Why not get it translated into French? And how about that cover letter too? It will make your application look like you are invested in getting a teaching job and respectful of the language and culture.
On a similar note - schools are often looking for someone already in the area. So as soon as you land, look into getting a local number. Even if it’s just a case of unlocking your phone and getting a cheap SIM card with a French number. That way employers will not have to think twice about calling your number.