Teaching English In France – Part 2: The Game Plan

by Gyl Golden

Earning a living as an English teacher in France requires a game plan. Although some see it as a small country, it is very diverse, popular, and the lifestyle differs from region to region. This step-by-step guide will lead you to the ideal teaching location and job in France!

Tourists strolling in a Paris park with the famous Eiffel Tower in the background
People stroll along the streets of Paris with the famous Eiffel Tower in the background.

Where To Teach

If you want an ESL job, it means you must choose a city where there is a demand for English. Unfortunately, the small romantic village in the middle of the country, where most of us would love to live, has a population with an average age of 60. That means a low demand for work, let alone English teaching. You want to be based in or live near a large to medium size city. Solely on the basis of finding work, Paris is ideal as it offers by far the most options for teaching jobs in France. However, the high cost of living may outweigh the benefits of finding a job rapidly. What’s more, many people don’t want to live in such a large city since France has drop-dead gorgeous countryside. Outside of Paris, here is how to choose a workable city (not a village) in France.

Criteria For Choosing An Ideal Teaching Location In France

1. It has a university. 

University towns are full of young adults who might need English for their studies, for a semester abroad, for finding a job abroad, or just because they enjoy speaking with foreigners. Young adults and students are synonymous with the desire to learn new things as well as an openness for ideas coming from outside their home country.

2. It has an economic center dependent on an international community.

Cities with office parks for technology or transportation, for example, are good because it ensures a base of young professionals who need English for their job. Any industry that needs to do business internationally will have a need for English. Now more than ever before, this is almost any industry. For better or worse, globalization has fueled the voracious demand for English.

Abundantia in Paris, France

3. It’s a dynamic city. 

Cities that promote a cosmopolitan attitude are best because their citizens is what will fill classrooms. People who have a desire to learn English usually are people who are interested in foreigners or foreign things. Cities or towns where there are already a lot of foreigners and where there is constant call for improvement are ideal.

All three of these concepts work together in creating the ideal backdrop for a city with a real future for teaching English, hence more jobs.

The Right Qualifications

As a general rule, ESL employers look for a university degree in any discipline and a TEFL/TESOL certificate. Yes, while there are exceptions, lacking one or both of these items makes your task more difficult. Unfortunately, French employers typically disregard qualifications for teaching in the mainstream education system unless they were earned in France. It doesn’t seem fair, but the only solution is to get a TEFL/TESOL certificate.

Creating the French Application

Once you have these qualifications, it’s time to showcase them on a C.V. or resume. It is ideal to have this written in French. Therefore it’s suggested that you have a C.V. and cover letter professionally translated if you are not fluent in French. In most other countries in the world where English is in demand, this is not necessary, a C.V. in English would be suitable. The European Union is working to streamline many procedures so it is now possible to input all of your past experiences in a “European formatted”  C.V./Resume. So as things gradually change, the need for a French C.V. is slowly disappearing, but it’s not gone yet. Despite this, know that any interviews for an English speaking post will be conducted in English. To emphasize, you do not need to speak French to obtain a job as an English teacher in France because only English should be spoken in class. It’s occasionally the preliminaries of getting in the door that may require the local language and for that, a simple translator will do.

Mont St Michel, Normandy, France

When and Where To Send Your Application

Lastly, get the English language school addresses for your target town or city and send them your application. It’s super easy to look up the French Yellow Pages online and find English language schools in your desired city. It may seem a little “Old School,” but sending applications through snail mail is still the preferred method and very few positions can be found through online searches. This will also help you see how many schools operate in your target location and give you an idea of the demand for English in that area. If you only see five English language schools, that may be a hint that you should cast your net a bit further if you hope to catch work. Lastly, hiring times are early September, January, and late March/early April. Forget looking for a job in the summer, as that is vacation time in France and everyone will be gone. Ahhh, now that’s why we all want to live in France!