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Teaching English in France: A Step-by-Step Guide
Teaching English in Paris, France

Teach English in France as a Teaching Assistant

A Unique Opportuntity for Americans to Work in France

Teach English through France
Teach English throughout France.

The French government is trying to get Americans to move to France and territories for 7 months at a time while earning cold hard euros, and often not all available slots are filled. As their website states: you will the opportunity to "teach in public schools across all regions of metropolitan France and in the overseas departments of French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion."

Considering how many Americans clamor to live in France or French-speaking countries, 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). Take the time to check out their FAQ and prospective applicants section on the site for all the details to your questions.

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 relatively light and it is only open to Americans.

There are approximately 1,100 slots available each year, and applications are fairly scarce. Once, anyone who applied and qualified found a job. But competition is increasing, as according to the 2014 application to the program (2015 applications are not yet available on-line), approximately 2,100 people applied to receive roughly 1,120 available positions.

Getting in

In order to qualify, applicants must:

  1. Be an American citizen (or have a current green card)
  2. Be between 20 and 30 years of age as of the start date of the assignment
  3. Be enrolled in college or have a college degree
  4. At least have a basic proficiency in the French language (3 semesters in college or level B1), a major in French, or demonstrable experience living in France
  5. A TEFL or ESL certificate is not required but can give you an edge in demonstrating your training and past experience in the classroom
  6. $40 Application fee
  7. Be prepared to bring $2000 in order to settle in
  8. See the previous year's application (.PDF) to get a good idea of all the other details involved.

The Cons

It might sound too good to be true, but there are some downsides. For one thing, the monthly stipend is only €965 per month GROSS, €790 per month NET. 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 April, months before you are required to be in France. If you're assigned to Paris, start saving before you arrive to cover the higher cost of living, including shelter and food.

Where?

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 additional 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 seven months. That's probably motive enough for most people. Contract lengths are from October 1st through April 30th.

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 well over 100 hours weekly that you won't be teaching, and thanks to the ever-generous French school holiday schedule.

You will get to experience France or its French-speaking territories 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 or a French-speaking country. You will gain a wonderful immersion exposure to the French language that sticks to the mind much better than classroom knowledge.

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