Teaching English in France: What You Need to Know

By Barrie Smith

Teaching English in France: What You Need to Know

The prominence and impact of French history, culture, fashion and cuisine on global history and society has made France one of the most popular destinations for English language teachers from the UK in recent years. With a fantastic climate and some of Europe’s most enticing cities, it’s not hard to see why this country catches the eye of so many.

What surprises most people is just how accessible and open France can be to English teachers. Work is available throughout the year, with most contracts beginning in September and lasting the course of a full academic year. Travelling to France from the UK is as easy as it gets too, with ferries running daily.

If you’re considering vacating the drab English skies for a new life on the continent, here’s all you need to know.

Why France?

If France is a country that sparks your interest, you’re not alone. Over 75 million travellers visit France each year, with 20,000 Britons choosing to relocate their lives and migrate permanently across the channel. France is lucky enough to be blessed with cities bursting in rich culture, with Paris, Bordeaux and Toulouse all boasting vibrant EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching scenes.  Being only a stones throw away from the UK as well means that a quick trip back home is never out of the question, unlike most other TEFL destinations.

What qualifications do I need?

Unlike most other European countries where advanced qualifications are required, the French are likely to hire native English-speaking teachers regardless of credentials. While approaching the job with a TEFL certificate is advised and will certainly put you in good stead, any Bachelor’s Degree and a working interest in France puts you on the right path.

How do French language schools operate?

On average, you can expect to receive between 20-30 hours of teaching per week in a formal language school. Pay can be as high as €2,000 per month, which is a comfortable living wage in a country where the cost of living will be approximately €1,600 per month. If you’re in search of freelance work the hourly rate weighs in at €30 per hour but students are much harder to come by.

What are my worker’s rights?

As an EU citizen, you already have the right to work in France. As with any EU country though, permanent employment comes with a hefty flow of paperwork and bureaucracy so most contracts have a ‘vacataire’ status – this means that pay Is forthcoming only when work is guaranteed as oppose a fixed income each month. Alongside this, there’s no entitlements to holiday or sickness pay but on the upside, such flexible working conditions mean you can also operate elsewhere.

Where to start?

While simply being an English-speaking TEFL teacher in a French community can sometimes be enough to land work, give yourself the best chance possible by investing in a TEFL training course before travelling across. With this in your CV, you’ll find it much easier to open discourse with employers and begin a new chapter in your career.

Article written by Barrie Smith – previously lived and taught English in France.


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  1. What if i want to move to France as an American to teach English permanently. Is that possible, or are the jobs only available to EU citizens?

  2. I’m currently based in Paris, and the standard contract offered by most language schools is what’s called a CDD, a fixed term variable contract which pays by the hour. The average hourly rate is around 18€-20€ per hour, and you don’t get paid for lesson preparation or any of the other admin that goes with teaching. The CDI – the permanent contract that offers job security and that pays well, is virtually non-existent in language schools here. I’m hoping to get out of EFL asap, because it’s an industry that treats its front line staff appallingly, and France, despite its labour laws, doesn’t seem to be much of an exception to this.

  3. Great article. Let’s not forget also that once you are in the mainstream private language school system and teach a minimum of 330 hours with a main employer, you gain access to teaching as a Casual Teacher at many Universities there for around 40 to 50 euros an hour. There is a limit to how many of these extra hours you can do per year or semester but it cna really boost your yearly income considerably.

    If anyone would like more details, do get in touch.

    I did it for 10 years in Lyon and in Champagne Ardenne area.

    Phil 🙂

    • I am replying to your offer for further information. I am interested in finding an EFL Teaching position in France. Do you by chance have any contact details of schools, universities or recruitment agencies. Any info will be much appreciated.

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