A how-to guide to Teaching English in France
If you dream of living in France but need an income, how about teaching English? If you haven’t got a background in teaching, then you’re not alone. Most English language teachers have re-trained from other careers. So what kind of teaching opportunities exist, how much can you expect to earn and how do you get started?
Teaching English in France: finding work
While the French do learn English at school, lessons are weighted heavily in favour of writing and grammar and so most require supplementary English if they want to speak more naturally or use English for a specific purpose, such as for work. This makes learning from a native speaker very attractive and you might find that conversational English is most in demand.
Typically you could be teaching in one of the following ways...
1) In one of the many private language schools
This is a great way to get started and it takes the headache out of finding your own students - although don’t expect a full timetable straight away. Wall Street Institute is one large franchise with schools offering short and long term contracts across France. To find other language schools, try typing in ‘cours de langues’ in the region of your choice in the French yellow pages online. Expect pay of around €15-€20 per teaching hour.
2) By phone
This is very well established method of learning English in France. There are a number of schools offering part time work including Phone English. A fast and reliable broadband and VOIP capabilities (e.g. Skype) may be necessary here. Expect €10-€15 per hour.
3) As freelancers
Finding work within your local community. Living in Brittany, ex-solicitor David Allan (pictured right) teaches English to supplement his retirement income. He soon found students came knocking on his door once word went around there was a qualified English teacher in town. He generated interest by leaflet dropping with the header:
"What are your New Year resolutions, giving up smoking, chocolate or learning English? If it’s the latter, give me a call!"
Work has also increased thanks to a feature on him in a local paper. He says,
"I have a variety of students; children after school, the local doctor, a pilot and a group of 4 ladies who come for conversation."
To add to this variety he teaches English by phone. Try advertising in a local free newspaper like Bonjour and in shops, supermarkets and cafes. Expect around €18-€30 per hour for 1-1 work.
4) Through the French Chamber of Commerce network
Many chambers have language centres attached to them which is where Kerry Edwards works in Caen. She comments:
"Teaching is held within classrooms at the centre or on customer sites. I did a TEFL with Business course with (more on this below) and this has certainly helped me to specialise within this area. I have taught English to company directors, salesmen, technicians, engineers and accountants as well as others within the hotel and restaurant sector."
Expect pay rates of €15-€30 per hour.
5) As a language assistant in schools
Start by offering to volunteer and build from there. Expect around €16 per hour.
Terms and conditions
If you are an EU citizen, you have the right to work in France. However, employing people permanently is expensive and bureaucratic so most contracts have ‘vacataire’ status. Essentially, this means pay only when work is available rather than a fixed amount each month. Also there is no entitlement to holiday or sickness pay or other benefits. However, the flexibility of such a contract means you can work elsewhere.
Keep everything legal by registering for tax and social payments (like the UK NI.) Urssaf can automatically register you for everything at once, your business, social payments and tax (there is even an English speaking hotline number.) A teacher might be best registering as a micro-enterprise initially and can expect about 25% tax deductions. Also if you choose a status other than micro-enterprise then you have to pay an accountant to do the bookkeeping whereas as an ME you can do you own. Alternatively, consider the new 'auto-entrepreneuar' status. Actual registration is not expensive at all but the initial bills come quite rapidly afterwards.
How to train to teach English
In contrast to 20 years ago, many EFL teachers are more mature in years and have re-trained, recognising that the ability to teach their native language offers a very portable career option. While simply being in France could be enough for you to find a little teaching work in areas where native speakers are a rarity, for greater opportunities and to ensure you feel confident to take money for your efforts, it is wise to invest in a TEFL/TESOL course. There are a huge variety to choose from, from the traditional 4 week intensive CELTA or Trinity courses which cost around £1300, to the myriad of online or weekend courses. These can be completed in your own time and cost much less.
If the online option appeals, it is worth choosing an accredited TESOL course for teaching in Europe as a measure of quality. As business English is so huge in France, consider adding a 30-hour specialist Teaching Business English course can help you stand out from the crowd and may help secure better pay. A good accredited course will take you through grammar, lesson planning, and material selection.
Kerry Edwards says of her Global English TESOL course:
"The (online) TEFL training gave me a very good basis on which to start teaching. I never realised the extent of English grammar. That, together with all the practical aspects of teaching were very well covered. I had already started a contract before finishing the course but the fact that I was studying for the TEFL certainly helped me to get the job."
Being fluent in French in order to network is very useful and a degree, a driving license and any business or teaching experience are also valuable additions to any TEFL CV.
A final word
Giving something back to the community you live by teaching English can be a hugely enriching experience. Teachers are generally regarded very highly and teaching English will bring you in meaningful contact with French people, as well as providing a rewarding way to live and earn or supplement an existing income.
Your next step
Download the guide below for more information on teaching English in France + course recommendations.
* I did it! My freelance TEFL experience in France
* Our most popular online TESOL course for teaching English in France
Any questions? Contact Louisa Walsh, Course Director at Global English TESOL, specialising in online TESOL provision: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01392 411 999
There are currently no user comments for this article. Why not be the first? Simply complete the form below to add your comment to our site.
Which TEFL course is best for me? Read our handy guide now.
Employers - have you got a position to advertise on our website and through our fortnightly newsletter? Click here.
"For the past two years I have worked here in Tuscany teaching all levels. I have already recommended your courses to one of my prospective teachers..."
— Alison Salmon, English World, Italy