Teaching English in Paris
Where There is a Will, There is Always a
|A view of the Seine river in Paris.
Finding employment in Paris can at first glance seem like an impossible
task. Unemployment figures remain stubbornly high. You may only have
a smattering of French to start you off, and, depending on your country
of origin, obtaining a visa can prove to be a nightmare. Add all
of these factors together and it is easy to see why people become
discouraged. But do not lose heart. There is a way!
With English as your mother tongue you already posses a major asset
that will enable you to find gainful employment. Does this count
for anything in Paris? In short, the answer is "Yes."
English is the European Union's official first language and demand
for English teachers in Paris is high. Also businesses in France
are expected to spend a percentage of their budget on education for
employees (known as Formation Continue; www.education.gouv.fr),
and failure to do this can lead to a higher tax bill. As a result,
many people are enrolled in English language courses.
Even better news is it is possible to find work without any formal
teaching experience or teaching qualifications. After all, who better
to teach English than native English speakers themselves?
Getting the Ball Rolling
So where do you start? Before we go on, there are a couple of things
to keep in mind. First, if you are American or a non-European Union
citizen you must get your working papers in order and consider any
legal constraints your visa may put on you. Secondly, most of the universities and schools
will expect all candidates to be educated to degree level.
This said, the fact still remains that if English is your mother
tongue you shouldn't have too many problems finding work in Paris.
If you are motivated, have a lot of patience, and have the right
information you can find employment quickly.
There are a number of ways to find work teaching English as a foreign
language in Paris. You can offer private tuition, work for one of
the many English language schools that are thriving in the city,
find a supply-teaching post at a university, or become a teacher's
assistant at a college (children aged 11 to 14) or lycée (children
aged 15 to 18).
Private tuition is probably the most financially rewarding of all
these teaching opportunities, provided you build up your clientele
that is. Teachers can charge 15-20 euros an hour and sometimes more
depending on the student and their status. It is up to you to use
The important thing is to get yourself out there. Put your details
in the windows of local tabacs and pharmacies and talk to
the people who work in them. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in
landing you private clients. Often you will find they know of people
looking for somebody to teach their children English, for example.
Putting out ads in all media can also be a fruitful exercise;
Another possibility is to apply to one of the private English language
schools in the city. The beauty of this is many offer their own in-house
training programs, so you do not need to be armed with a TEFL (Teaching
English as a Foreign Language) certificate or any other formal teaching
It is important to be aware, however, that many of these training
courses are unpaid and can last up to ten days. There are those that
offer paid training but you are tied in to work for the company for
up to 12 months or more. If you finish working for them within a
specified timeframe you may be expected to pay them back for the
training. So make sure you read contracts carefully.
Some language schools also send teachers out to businesses, which
can take up to an hour in travel time. Find out if you will be paid
Be aware that many of these private schools will also present the brute (gross) figure, as the monthly wage. You need to deduct around
20 percent, sometimes more (for social security etc), to calculate
your actual monthly take-home salary. Income tax isn't taken at source
in France and you will have to save money each month to be able to
meet payments. In short, salaries at private language schools aren't
great and many teachers offer private tuition to bump up their monthly
The quality of work varies among language schools. Teachers are expected
to work evenings and weekends, usually with one day off in the week.
On the plus side, however, working for a private language school
guarantees you a set income every month and you can work overtime.
Either that or you can supplement your wage by teaching part-time
at one of the many colleges, lycées, or universities in Paris.
For this kind for work you need to look for vacataire positions.
A vacataire is a supply teacher, and many schools will use vacataires if
they are short of permanent staff. To be considered for one of these
posts you must be educated to degree level, although formal teaching
experience isn't always required. While the hourly rate seems appealing,
you can earn up to €35 an hour, vacataires are normally only
able to work 200 hours a year, hence the need for another job.
Do not be put off by the Parisian reputation of hostility towards
foreigners. On the contrary, you will often find students eager to
learn and extremely hospitable. Adult students in particular love
to practice their English, asking you about your country and your
impression of theirs.
Adult learners may resist the communicative approach and less structured
techniques of teaching. A lot of your students will want to write
down everything with little emphasis on speaking, but persevere and
soon you will not be able to stop your students talking.
In short, teaching English in Paris is not going to make you a fortune
overnight, but it is a decent way to eek out a living while enjoying
the numerous delights of the city. Even James Joyce taught English
in Paris while writing Ulysses!
The hours are flexible, you can work as little or as much as you
want (taking into consideration any visa requirements), and you will
meet some fantastic people along the way. The important thing is
to read all contracts carefully and be sure you have knowledge of
working terms and conditions before you sign anything.
Teaching English can be a lot of fun as well as very rewarding.
Hey, if James Joyce did it, then why not you?
Tips on Finding English Teaching
Jobs in Paris
- Be prepared to put yourself out
there — send or email CVs on spec to colleges, lycées,
universities, and English language schools.
- Put advertisements in tabacs, pharmacies,
on university notice boards, or in the classifieds.
- Talk to people — word of mouth
is a vital tool in finding employment, particularly private
- Don't be put off by rumored Parisian
inhospitality. Students are often warm, eager, and willing
- Remember formal teaching qualifications
are not always required.
- Do not be put off if you don't speak
the language. French is not always required.
- Keep your wits about you with private
language schools. Ask lots of questions about working
terms and conditions.
- Ask private language schools if
they pay for travel time to businesses.
- Remember you are usually given
the gross salary figure. Make the necessary tax
deductions to calculate what you will actually take home.
- Read contracts carefully.
Private Language Schools in Paris:
Useful Education Links:
Natalie Faulkner has been a journalist
for several years, working in London, New York, Hong Kong and Australia.
Natalie writes that she has encountered
many resourceful Americans, Australians and plenty of British currently
residing in Paris and teaching English.