Teaching English in France opens a land of opportunity. If you want to come to France I have a solution for you, and I know all about it! Guiga invited me to share with you my experience. I hope this can help you.
I am Lara, I’m Belgian. I am an English and French teacher working in France since 2005. I am the author of the blog Apprendrelanglaisrapidement.fr to help French speakers learn English and learnfrenchwithlara.com to help English speakers learn French. Therefore I know all the pros and cons of teaching in France. This is my advice based on my experience on how to get into teaching in France. First, let’s have a look at the qualification that is required.
How to get into teaching in France?
Why teaching in France is a good idea
There is a shortage of English teachers in France, salaries are correct and the workload is manageable. Expect your salary as an English teacher to be between 700 euros (part-time) and 1 700 euros (full-time) net per month. The French education system is very demanding. Therefore you will still need a qualification to teach English as a foreign language even if you are a native English speaker.
What certification do I need to be able to teach English in France?
To teach English in France you will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree and preferably a master’s degree plus a TEFL certification. I personally chose to acquire the CELTA (Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults) because it could be done in one month. And it is the norm in France.
I flew to London in July 2015. I spent one month there to pass the certificate because my husband was working in London. So it was easier for me to do it there but I could have done it in Paris too.
I spent 1,200 euros on the training. But I stayed with my husband. However, you would have to budget for accommodation and living costs on top. I enjoyed doing the CELTA training. It has helped me progress as a teacher! Therefore I’m happy to have done it. But it still required a lot of study and the one-month training was pretty intense.
When is a good time to apply as a teacher in France?
There is no shortage of teaching English jobs in France. Normally teaching jobs start in September and end at the end of June. For a September start to apply in June, this will be plenty of time.
Teaching English as a second language jobs can be found in summer camps and schools too. In this case, you would be teaching English in France all summer. You can apply for example at the American Village Summer Camps in France. It is recommended to start applying in April.
Which schools or establishments teach English in France?
Teach English in France as a civil servant
In France, you have the choice of state or private (catholic) schools. On top of that, there are privately-owned language schools where you can train children and adults alike in English.
You can teach in public either as a public servant or as a “vacataire“.
Only people with French nationality (born French or naturalised) can be civil servants as well as EU citizens. So if you are a non-EU citizen, you will need to consider private school or all the other options detailed in the post.
Also, the criteria to teach in French state schools are the most stringent. You have to pass the civil service competitions CAPES or the CAFEP for the catholic schools. This is a yearly ‘concours’; a competition where your written English is tested as well as your ability to analyse prose and literature excerpts. Be prepared to know about figures of speech.
The CAPES internal exam is when you are already working as part of the school and the external one, which is much harder to get because you do not get support from the school where you are at. Most people need several attempts to pass the CAPES. But even then you are not guaranteed a job, as they only put you on a waiting list. And your spot on the list is valid for one year. Depending on the number of teachers they need in one particular year, you may have made it to the top of the list. But you may still not be given a job because of a lack of demand. Therefore, you would have to start again the following year.
Be prepared to be patient.
Teach English in France as a “vacataire“
An easier option is to be “vacataire” English teachers, this means you do not have the CAPES but you can do replacements in schools and fixed short-term missions. This is a very precarious status though.
A word of warning regarding the vacataire status. You can decide to combine vacataire work with the ‘micro-entrepreneur‘s’ status as an English teacher. The micro-entrepreneur status is the easiest entrepreneur status to have, in terms of start-up cost, paperwork and social security payment.
However, if you do this, you will be limited to a maximum number of teaching hours per year set by the state. I am myself limited to 48 effective teaching hours at university because I have that status. Unless you can justify that you have more than 900 effective teaching hours per year.
To do that they will request the last 3-year income tax return. A way around this is to have another status such as EURL or SARL, but you will pay more social contribution in return (about 50% instead of 22%).
My recommendation is to work in privately-owned language schools in your area and work towards getting the ‘numéro de formateur’ and then move to eligibility to give CPF training (training eligible to Compte Personnel de Formation). This is what I did.
The reasons are simple; better pay, better working conditions and independence.
How to become a certified trainer
The Compte Personnel de Formation & the Numéro de Formateur Business
You need to apply to the DIRECCTE (Local entity of the Ministry of Labour) to get your Trainers number. The procedure is well-documented on their site and basically, you have first to have a Kbis for your business (company registration document) that you get from your CFE (Centre de Formalités des Entreprises). As far as the auto-entrepreneur status is, you can do it online in two clicks, it is free and straightforward. Next comes the tricky part.
Does the egg come from the hen or the hen from the egg? This is what you have to find out next. To get your numéro de formateur you need one ‘convention de formation’; an English training contract signed by someone who wants to get a course from you, but to get your ‘convention de formation’ signed by anybody who does not want to pay for the English training out of their own pocket but by using the money available on their CPF account (see further below), you need first a ‘Numéro de formateur’. Easy, isn’t it?
The only way is to do what everybody does. Get someone you know to start an English training with you. Make them sign, then apply for this Numéro de Formateur. Once you get it, you can set up your training catalogue in EDOF (Espace des organismes de formations) and have your training eligible for the holy grail of CPF.
What is the Compte Personnel de Formation (CPF) ?
It is very simple. Everyone salaried in France pays into a training fund. This money is taken directly from their pay and it is financed by the employers too. The CPF be disposed of as you wish to pay for pieces of training with certified trainers. Full-time employees accumulate about 500 euros per year per person.
Previously, the employers had a say in which training could the employee take or not. This is not the case anymore. Employees are free to choose what they want, even if it has nothing to do with their job. You could take up a knitting class for all they cared. And cherry on the cake, English class is a firm favourite with the French workers!
The only requirement is that there is a certification at the end. This is very good business for Language schools and ‘organisme de formation’ alike but now to be eligible to sell out such training you need to be qualiopi-certified.
The Qualiopi Certification
This is all very good but now that you have your numéro de formateur and you have your training eligible for CPF, there is nowadays one more hurdle to jump over, the Qualiopi Certification. A government decree now states that all ‘organisme de formation’; trainers need to be qualiopi certified by January 2022 (it was supposed to be last year but thanks to Covid, plans were postponed for a year).
This certification is expensive (between 1500 and 2000 euros), and renewable every 3 years. Also, it is complicated (you have to comply with 40 criteria and pass an audit). It is so complicated that there are pieces of training costing thousands of euros just to tell you how to do it! I am in the middle of it; therefore my advice is to keep some sanity! Do one criterion per day, google anything you don’t understand and get advice from someone who has done it.
This may be a lot to do but expect to double your salary rather than being condemned to be a subcontractor for a qualiopi-certified language centre where you can earn a maximum of 25 euros per hour with the independent status ( a measly 12 euros per hour as salaried) and you are forever under the dictate of someone else.
Other options to teach English in France
Teaching English online
If you do not want all this hassle you can choose to teach English online.
There are many platforms where you can register such as Acadomia, where you can get students very easily. You will still need to declare your revenues and have some sort of status, of course. But some platforms allow you to fix your own tariff and you could be earning anything between 20 and 60 euros per hour as a private online tutor.
For example, I tried ‘superprof.fr’’ and it was all right. You can teach French online and get paid for it. The advantage is that you can do one lesson after the next, you have no travel costs and your timetable is totally flexible. Be prepared for stiff competition though.
Become a private home tutor to teach English in France
This is interesting if you want to do school support and work as a private English tutor for teenagers or kids, helping them with their English homework basically or pass their English-speaking exams. You will need some familiarity with the French school program in English. My advice is to join a Facebook group for teachers, you get a lot of information and even course plans, it is top as the solidarity among teachers is great.
What is even more interesting is that as a private home tutor who goes to private people’s homes, your clients can get a 50% income tax rebate at the end of the year. If they pay you 30 euros an hour, for example, they would get 15 euros back when they do their end-of-year tax return, thus costing them a mere 15 euros for your services.
Even more interesting is that I heard on the news recently that the government is said to make that tax rebate instant from January 2022. This means that clients instead of paying the full amount upfront and waiting for their end-of-the-year tax return to be filed to get the money back will get the money rebated straight away.
This will be a great incentive for private customers to take on private English classes for themselves or their kids and will be more financially rewarding for teachers as a result. You could expect to charge 38 to 40 euros per hour and they would in effect only pay half of it. To be able to do that you need to fill in the form and ask for an ‘agrément’ from your local DIRECCTE. Once you get it the tax rebate can be put into place for your customers.
TAPIF Program, become a teaching assistant
This is a program which is designed for foreigners, you can get a visa as a teaching assistant and you get paid for your work assisting English teachers in schools. This type of visa I understand is easier to get but there are downsides.
- You get paid 780 euros per month and you cannot officially do other jobs which is very tight to pay for accommodation and living costs in France, especially if you are in Paris
- You do not choose the town, you could be in a small town
- You have to have savings for set-up costs, for example, you have to pay two months’ rent in advance (caution) when you take an apartment here in France.
- You only work 12 hours a week but they are spread out over the week, you do get plenty of holidays though
- You are alone and need to get by with French bureaucracy
- It is best for travellers who need pocket money but not suitable if you need to earn a living and support a family
Where to teach English in France?
Big cities are always a hit with foreign English teachers with teaching English in Paris being a firm favourite. If you teach English in Paris you get a mix of culture, people and French art-de-Vivre. Other towns such as Lyon, Toulouse, Le Havre, Marseille , Bordeaux are also popular. I think medium-sized towns such as Nantes in Loire-Atlantique have a lot to offer in terms of living standards and business opportunities.
What type of English to teach?
In my 20 years of experience as a teacher in different parts of Europe, I can say that in France, most people seek to get by in English and are beginners. Demand for Business English is steady, and special training such as teaching English in France for the TOEIC exam or for BTS degrees (type of 2-year postgraduate certification in France) makes you more employable.
For TOEIC, a simple good book, I use the TOEIC bible is enough for BTS, the requirements are different, you can get hold of the ‘referentiel’ on the internet among those Facebook specialized groups you can join as a teacher.
Improving your French with French language immersion in France
Do you want to learn French with a native family? Do you simply want a touristic visa and learn French in total immersion in France? Or perhaps you need to get your French going to be able to converse with your prospective students?
Then why not try one week or more French immersion with me in the lovely seaside resort of Les Sables d’Olonne, West Coast of France by the Atlantic ocean. I can help you get up to speed with your French in no time and show you our beautiful region. I organize French and English immersion language courses in my home in Les Sable d’Olonne. I provide you with accommodation, French private classes and complete immersion in my French-English family.
Check you my ‘séjour linguistique’ in my home here.
You will find lots of articles, videos and podcasts to learn French for free and quickly.
I hope you find this article useful and I can help you if you have more questions. Please comment on this article.
Bon apprentissage du français!
Hey, really loved your blog. It helped me a lot in understanding the factors which are essentials to teaching English in France.