Teaching English in France - 5 Essential Tips to Help You Find a Job
Jul 26, 2009 Career Development 2748 Views
Teaching English in France is a fun and rewarding way for long-term travelers - and anyone else, for that matter - to make money along the way during a long trip or simply enjoy France for a while. For some people, a short stop to fuel up on French culture and food is more than enough. For others, this may mean settling down for the long haul.
Either way, these 5 essential tips should help you find a job teaching English in France.
If you're a citizen of the EU, there's no problem. You have permission to work in France, so all you need to do is to show up and find a job. It won't be instantaneous, but the tips below will be equally useful to you.
If you're not a EU citizen, it's harder, but not impossible to find a job as a teacher of English in France. Your potential employer will have to prove the skills he or she needs are simply not available in the country - a difficult case to make given all the British and Irish job-seekers with the right working papers.
Still, there are some assets you can bring to the table to improve your chances of getting hired, and these tips should help you despite the highly competitive nature of this market.
Essential Tip #1. Practice your French
That's right. The French prefer dealing with people with whom they can communicate. Speaking French will also help you network and take advantage of tips from others. So if you have a bit of high school or college French, brush up on it. If not, at least learn enough to show you care. You won't need much of it in the classroom, but a bit of French will help during the job search.
Essential Tip #2. Did I say network?
That's right. Visit ESL forums and discussion groups. Visit expat forums. Join email lists. Get to know people who are already teaching English in France. Find out what's out there. Timing is often everything and one of the best ways to find a job teaching English in France is to follow up on leads. If someone bails out of a teaching assignment a few days before the start of the school year, an employer might be desperate - your walking in the door at that time might be the break you both need. But you'll only find out if you've been keeping your ear to the ground.
Essential Tip #3. Get certified
The more certificates you have, the better your chances. These can include degrees, diplomas or certificates in EFL (English as a foreign language), ESL (English as a second language - this doesn't apply in France, since it's not an English-speaking country, but at least you'll have some kind of qualification), ESOL (English to speakers of other languages, mostly used in adult education), TEFL (Teaching English as a foreign language), TESL (Teaching English as a second language), TESOL (Teaching English to speakers of other languages), or CELTA (Certificate in English language teaching to adults). The French are quite academic and will respect academic qualifications if they're serious ones.
Essential Tip #4. Translate your paperwork
We often don't think about this - but your potential employer may actually not read English! While the French are making huge strides learning English - or there wouldn't be any demand for English teachers - foreign languages are still uncommon, especially among the older generations. So make sure you get everything translated before you even attempt to look for a job, or you might get some fluent arched eyebrows as the school's owners tries to wade through a language she may not know.
Essential Tip #5. Promote your specialty
Are you a specialist in health, business or technology? Put that forward because specialists are more in demand than generalists. You'll have a better chance of finding a job if you have something others don't - so if you have a profession other than that of teacher, squeeze it for what it's worth. For example, if you have a good grasp of business terminology, you could get a job teaching English to executives in a large company rather than to students in a language school.
Still concerned about finding a job teaching English in France?
Don't despair. You could try teaching in small, out-of-the-way towns where fewer foreign teachers might want to go - after all, many of us yearn for the bright lights of Paris, the shores of the Mediterranean or the sun-kissed hillsides of Provence. Or, if you're a student, there are special visas that may make your job search easier. You could perhaps become a Teaching Assistant, or get a Working Holiday Visa.
France is a magnet for potential English teachers, a romantic, gastronomic and visually stunning country, filled with history and culture. Why wouldn't someone want to find a job teaching English in this wonderful country?
I hope these 5 essential tips will help in your job search.