Does the thought of journeying abroad to teach English in France — arguably the single nation that provokes the greatest romantic fantasy in the foreign imagination – tickle your fancy and stir your wanderlust?
If that’s so, and teaching English in France as an ESL instructor is on your bucket list, here’s everything you need to know.
About Teaching English in France
Here is a quick rundown of some key points about teaching English in France
- The French hiring cycle is similar to the US domestic version, so finding work is easiest in the early fall (beginning in August) and around the new year before the start of each semester.
- It’s significantly easier to get a visa as a citizen of an EU member state compared to teachers from non-EU member states for reasons we will discuss later
- You can expect to earn between $1,000-$2,500/month on average (see section on types of English teaching jobs for more details).
Although many Western/European locales have a reputation for greater English fluency than, for example, those in East Asia, the numbers of English speakers here is likely lower than you might guess:
“39% or just under two-fifths of the French population report being able to speak English to some degree. Not many of these can speak it fluently though… many of this 39% will only be able to converse in very basic English at best.”
What that means, among other things, is that there is a (perhaps unexpectedly) strong French demand for English instruction.
Later on, we’ll explore how to capitalize on that demand and land a lucrative job at the French school of your choice.
What Are the Requirements for Teaching English in France?
Here are the basic requirements for teaching English that most hiring managers will look for:
- 4-year university degree (in any subject)
- Native English-speaking proficiency
- Prior teaching experience (not a deal-breaker but extremely helpful)
- Minimum 120-hour TEFL Certification from an accredited provider*
*If you don’t already have a marketable TEFL certificate, consider upping your ESL game with a TEFL Hero 120-hour online course.
When you finish, you’ll be fully TEFL-certified by an accredited provider completely. Best of all, you’ll do it on your own time – which is perfect for any aspiring teacher already juggling work, school, or other commitments.
Please note that not every job may require all 4 of the above credentials to gain acceptance. Rather, these are the general requirements. If you don’t yet have all of the above, don’t give up on the job search just yet.
What Visa Do You Need to Teach English in France?
The type of visa you’ll need to find work in France will depend on whether you are coming from an EU member state or a non-member state.
Teachers from EU member states who are legally eligible to work in their home countries do not need any special visa thanks to EU economic integration.
Teachers from non-EU-member states have a much tougher path forward. To legally work in France (emphasis on legally), you’ll need one of the following documents:
- A student visa (either a “short-stay” visa good for 3 months or a “long-stay” visa good for 6 months or longer, must enroll in an institute of higher learning)
- A working holiday visa (Aussie and Kiwi applicants only)
- Residency permit
- A work permit sponsored by your school
*The Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) is an excellent option for American teachers, especially those with limited experience. The program assists teachers in obtaining the appropriate long-stay visa.
Previously, France relied heavily on Brits to fill its teaching vacancies. However, things have changed in that regard recently:
“For a long time, France’s proximity to the UK meant there was a steady stream of English speakers looking to teach in France. Now, language schools are feeling the combined effects of Brexit and Covid-related travel restrictions.
Since the British government decided to end freedom of movement within the EU for its citizens, most Brits now require a visa or work permit if they wish to move to France.”
The high demand for English teachers is good news for the supply side of the ESL market; schools need more teachers than ever before who are willing to brave the visa and COVID hurdles – so, somewhat counterintuitively, now might be the best time in recent history to make that transition to France!
Types of English Teaching Jobs in France (+ Salaries)
Let’s survey some of the common types of English teaching jobs available in France.
France ESL Job Type #1: Private Language Centers
Language schools are the bread and butter of the ESL industry in France. You’ll likely discover that the majority of positions advertised on the web are for this type of learning institution.
Language schools generally offer classes in the evenings and on weekends as supplements to regular daytime school instruction.
Here is such a position advertised by Helen Doron English in Paris at an hourly rate of around $22/hr.
France ESL Job Type #2: English Camp
English camps are available throughout the year, but particularly in the summertime.
These gigs are excellent to fill gaps in between your primary teaching job and to build up experience on your resume.
Consider this offer from American Village Camps in France that pays about $1,300 USD/month and has flexible dates.
France ESL Job Type #3: International Schools
International schools, in France and elsewhere, are the cream of the crop when it comes to private-sector ESL jobs. In France, you can expect to take in a minimum of $2,000/month (often a lot more) plus a host of benefits.
Because this is the upper echelon of the market, you’ll likely need a healthy resume of prior experience with demonstrated success to get hired.
Here is a position for a librarian/ EAL (English as an Additional Language) teacher at the International School of Paris.
Popular Cities to Teach English in France
Here are the most popular cities to teach English in France:
- Paris, the City of Love, home of the world-famous Louvre and Eiffel Tower, and largest urban center
- Marseille, a historic coastal hub on the Mediterranean
- Lyon, located in the southeast, former capital of the Gauls in the Roman era
- Toulouse, a hundred miles or so north of the Mediterranean coast on the River Garonne
How to Find an English Teaching Job in France
Here are a few tips on identifying and landing the perfect teaching job in France.
Where to start
If you’re starting your job search from abroad, here are a few great online resources that compile ESL listings in France:
Many employers prefer candidates already in-country. If you’re fortunate enough to already be in France, or if you have the resources (and visa option) to get to France before you find a job, consider a dual in-person (door-knocking)/online application strategy.
How to get hired
Here are a few tips to get hired:
- Apply to positions even if you don’t have all the listed requirements (unless otherwise indicated in the job ad) – you never know when a school might overlook a few shortcomings in the resume of the right candidate
- Look for work during an ideal recruiting period in late summer and around the new year before the start of each semester
- Commit to a minimum of 2 applications/day until you get hired – the grind adds up over time
- Check the websites above daily to get applications into interested schools as early in the recruitment process as possible (“the early bird gets the worm”)
What’s It Like Being an English Teacher in France?
The typical working week involves 5-25 hours in the classroom, with the rest of the workday available for lesson planning or taking care of other business.
France, like much of Western Europe, doesn’t have the same “nonstop” work culture that America or other nations do. It’s worth noting, in that vein, that the French workweek is actually 35 hours, not the standard 40 hours in most of the developed world. Leaders have even considered lowering that further to 32 hours per week.
American ESL teacher (private business tutor) Sean Bouland from Dallas, Texas, relocated to the coastal city of Nice takes you on a tour of his life and his daily routine:
He notes that he proctors for Cambridge Exams as a side hustle and, interestingly, delivers food for Uber Eats in his free time – “just for fun.”
Very avant-garde (a craft French language reference for you to enjoy).
Kaity, another local ESL teacher, explains some “dos and don’ts” pertaining to teaching English in France, including some interesting perspectives on teaching at the university level.
FAQs About Teaching English in France
Let’s briefly survey some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) vis-à-vis (another clever French language plug) teaching ESL in France.
What’s the salary for teaching English in France?
The salary range runs from around $1,000/month at the lower end to $2,500+ at the upper end.
How hard is it to teach English in France?
If you put in the work to earn an online TEFL certification, diligently seek and incorporate feedback, and go into each class with a well-designed lesson plan (many of which are free online), it’s probably easier than you might think.
Can you teach English in France without a degree?
Not typically. Most schools require a degree as a minimum requirement. The notable exception is teaching in English camps, which have laxer standards for teachers.