Teaching English in France as an Assistant
A Unique Opportuntity for Americans to Work in France
The French government is trying to get Americans to move to France for months at a time while earning cold hard euros, and often not all available slots are filled.
Considering how many Americans clamor to live in France, and how near-impossible it is to get a work visa, this sounds completely unbelievable. But it's true.
It's all thanks to the French Embassy's Teaching Assistant Program in France (www.frenchculture.org).
Unlike getting a French work visa, which is a grueling uphill battle against a government that sets all priorities on giving jobs to the French or European Union residents first, this program's requirements are light and it is only open to Americans.
There are 1,500 slots available each year, and applications are scarce. Essentially, anyone who applies and qualifies gets a job.
In order to qualify, applicants must:
- Be an American citizen (or have a current green card)
- Be between 20 and 34 years of age as of the start date of the assignment
- Be enrolled in college or have a college degree
- At least have a basic proficiency (such as three semesters) in French language
It might sound too good to be true, but there are some downsides. For one thing, the monthly stipend is only 900 euros. If you teach in a smaller, rural town this is less of an issue. In a big city, however, you will have a hard time just covering rent for this amount. The good news is you will find out if your application is approved in May, months before you are required to be in France. If you're assigned to Paris, start saving.
You probably won't end up in Paris. You can't pick your destination town. You can mention a preferred region of France, but I urge you to think outside the Paris/Ile de France box. For one thing, odds are pretty low against you actually landing in a Paris school.
There are so many other amazing area of France. If you also love all things German, choose the Alsace region (areas of which have switched hands between France and Germany over the centuries). It doesn't take a genius to guess that there are few crappy assignments in Provence. If you are a lover of the outdoors and want some true local flair, I suggest the Pyrenees-dotted Languedoc or Midi-Pyrenees regions.
Find some tips with the Teaching Assistant in France Survival Guide (en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Teaching_Assistant_in_France_Survival_Guide).
Reasons to Go
Now to the positive aspects, and they are quite numerous. You get to live in France for around six to nine months. That's probably motive enough for most people.
You also don't have to do much actual work (12 hours weekly). You'll have loads of spare time to travel regionally and explore the area, with the 156 hours weekly that you won't be teaching, and thanks to the ever-generous French school holiday schedule.
You will get to experience France from the inside, instead of the surface knowledge you get as a tourist. This is truly the best way to discover the endless intricacies of France. You will gain a wonderful immersion exposure to the French language that sticks to the mind much better than classroom knowledge.