ESL Teaching Guide - France

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Lisa Carter - October 2004

I have managed to get work teaching French masters degree students who are studying business. I have had several other short term contracts for various companies. I have never had to get my CELTA cert out of its envelope. Managed to get the job by asking my French teach who she worked for and did the company need any english teachers.

UI agree with other comments that it is difficult to get many hours, however once you start to get work it does sort of snowball.

Arabel Borel - June 2004

I'm self-employed and I teach in Adult Education and Professional teaching. I have 3 days a week at the Université du Temps Disponible (3rd Age University?) and for 2 1/2 months of the year I teach an English course for the Bar Vocational Exam in Aix and Marseille.

The positive aspects are that I have widened my outlook considerably, meeting new and often fascinating people.

The negative aspects are that since I live about an hour away from Aix and an hour and a half from Marseille, the travelling does tend to be very time-consuming and can be quite depressing at times.

The University pays "moderately", which means that it only just covers transportation, social contributions here in France are quite high and it isn't easy working free-lance, especially as the town I live in, Manosque (Alpes de haute Provence) is a bit one-horse and there's not much going in the way of interesting and decently-paid teaching work.

The legal course pays well and covers transportation as well.

The cost of living here is lower now than in England, and I have to admit that we have a quality of life here which is very good, the region includes, sea, mountains and incredible landscapes. The social advantages (welfare state) are very good, even though the French compalin like mad!

At the moment, I'm exploring the idea of setting-up seminars and courses of languages and activities in this incredibly beautiful region, with an environmental and humanitarian aspect,n using the collaboration of all shops, bars, private individuals who have a link with languages. May be difficult to get off the ground but it could be something big!

Olivier Kappes - May 2004

Teaching English in France, in a vocational school - Civil servant (employed by the French Ministry of education) - I teach 7 classes of kids aged between 15 and 20, 2 to 3 hrs. per week.

Positive Points: Stable employment (so far - that's the whole point of being a civil servant) within a huge but not so badly organized administration - relative freedom for organizing and managing teaching process and time, unstressful agenda (based on 18 teaching hours per week / 35 weeks per annum, no obligation to attend school out of teaching times and / or programmed meetings), rather good access to communication technologies.

Negative Points: Uninterested students. Teaching hours are not adapted to students real needs (not speaking of willingness ; one of the first interest of students being in industry oriented vocational schools (in mine we teach mechanics, electricians, maintenance workers & truck drivers) is thus escaping tedious topics such as French, History, Maths, and obviously English! So getting students attention and awaking their interest or curiosity is the Nº1 target of every minute in class, and it's sometimes a very hard and discouraging task indeed...

Although the French educational system has problems of its own, and particularly when it comes to teaching languages, it is probably still one of the most efficient in the (rich) western world.

Becoming a teacher in this system cab be quite easy for students living in France and whose mother tongue is English, although this kind of contract is always on short term basis (max. 200 teaching hours) and implies low wages and a high dependence on school organization. People with a college degree can also be employed on a yearly basis (school year, i.e. 650 teaching hours from Sept. to June) but with no guarantee of reconduction. Teach as a civil servant for non-French nationals is altogether another story...

Living conditions in France are... well, don't they say "happy as God in France"? Anyway, it depends (and this means financially as well as regarding culture and leisure activities) a lot wether you are in or around Paris or any other big city or if you are willing to taste the country's way of life in more remote parts.

Interested in going and living/working in France??

Useful books on living and working in France...

Nic - December 2002

Accommodation in Paris is extremely expensive. I have lived here for over 6 years in total and I still live in the suburbs. Paris is going through a major housing problem and EVERYBODY is looking for somewhere to rent. You have to have all the right papers, references, someone who can act as a guarantor, and pay at least two months rent up front as a deposit. Queues can be hundreds of metres long! That is not a joke. Shared accommodation may be easier to find. Check out FUSAC which is on the web - it is a bi-monthly magazine with good sections of accommodation, jobs, etc.

Martin - October 2002

Finding a secure, well-paid TEFL job outside of Paris can be difficult. I personally sent applications to 14 language schools, only hearing back from two or three. Most schools require a TEFL certificate, although they will often want to train you according to their own particular pedagogic approach. A Bachelors degree is a minimum as well as some experience. Also, you would be advised to pass TEFL if you want to find the better-paid and more secure positions. It is worth remembering that there are many qualified native English speakers resident in France, hoping to find some PT or FT work. The better equipped you are (qualification wise) the more competitive is your CV. Do arrive in France with plenty of cash to see you through unemployed periods, France is still a country with 10% plus out of work!

Barbara Gribble - January 2002

I do not agree with the information you have below. Student expectations are high in France. In companies training managers, students' managers and students themselves expect you to set up and achieve clearly defined objectives,the days of just walking into class and chatting are over. Good TEFL schools give teachers contracts and a 12 or even 13 month salary. Rents are high in Paris, if you are coming here, check this out.

Andrew Mallory - November 2001
I worked in Paris, France from 1996-1998 - nearly 3 years. I had a degree and PGCE but no TEFL qualification. More important is a reasonable level of French and a businesslike attitude. Although I had no TEFL certificate, I would recommend having done the course, because it will help you to do the work if not to get the work.

Work is easy to come by but enough hours a week to make a living is more problematic. You would need a substantial reserve of savings to get through the first 6 months. Most work is one-to-one or very small closed group in offices and you have to travel to get to them, limiting a working week to about 25 hours maximum, although this will take about 50 hours to complete. Public transport is cheap and should be subsidised by your employer to the tune of 50%.

Bank holidays in France are numerous and May in particular is a disaster for the hourly paid EFL teacher. Your regular hours will be cut in half. July/August are also quiet months in Paris and you will hardly work at all. Time to travel or get a summer school job.

Student expectations are low. If you arrive on time and have something interesting to work on they will be delighted. Take as many resources as possible with you though because the school will have little and they are expensive to buy there.

Accommodation in Paris is relatively cheap and living expenses are moderate for a capital city. There is a lot of cheap and subsidised cultural activity in Paris and it is an exciting place to be for a while. - First Stop for Your Second Language Needs
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