Audrey Hepburn was right when she said “Paris is always a good idea.” Teaching English in Paris, the French capital city, might be the best idea you’ll ever have. Being surrounded by one of the great artistic and cultural centers of the world, you will be a student as well as a teacher, learning lessons about culture, food, and romance as you teach English to local students. Paris is the city of light and love, and it will seduce you utterly. With an ambiance that is so distinctly Parisian, all you need to do is stroll by the Seine or sip wine in a chair outside a corner café to feel like you are completely absorbed by la vie parisienne.
Teaching Jobs in Paris
Opportunities to teach English in Paris are the most prevalent type of placement, and subsequently the easiest to find. Parisian parents are recognising the value of English more and more, and pushing their children to learn from an early age, resulting in lots of private tutoring or language school gigs catering for young charges. There are also plenty of professionals of all ages who wish to learn English to augment their career opportunities in an increasingly competitive job market.
The most common way to teach English in Paris is as a private tutor for a local family. This arrangement generally entails living with a family and providing after-school tuition and care for young children. Be careful to clarify exactly what services you are expected to provide; some families may expect you to be a cleaner, baby-sitter, and cook, as well as an English teacher. Women aged between 20 and 25 are usually the preferred applicants for these positions, but if you can make a convincing case for yourself, you may still be able to land yourself a tutoring job in Paris. Au pairs essentially fulfil the same role, but sometimes with additional responsibilities, such as childcare.
Language schools are also commonly on the lookout for native English speakers to teach in Paris. This is a potentially lucrative option, but it will require a higher level of independence (and language skills) when it comes to housing, setting up a bank account, and other tasks involved with getting established in Paris. Private language tutors are also in high demand, a sought after by individual students, but landing your first few clients and getting a cash flow that is enough to support yourself can be a challenge initially.
Most teaching jobs in Paris will only hire native English speakers. Although you won’t necessarily need to have TEFL qualification to teach English in Paris, it will be helpful in paving the way to an awesome placement. It is often required that you have at least some experience with (or at least a great love for) young children, if that is who you will be teaching English to in Paris, or some form of teaching or tutoring experience, if you’ll be working with older students. Remember that the teaching market in Paris is competitive, with everyone wanting a slice of the Parisian pie (or tarte aux pommes, if you will). Anything you can add to your application to make you stand out is a huge plus, so if you have zero experience, getting a TEFL certification before starting your teaching job hunt could make things a lot easier.
It is also recommended that you have at least a basic knowledge of French before teaching English in Paris, because most Parisians don’t speak English. If you are working for a family, a lack of French language skills will make communication exceptionally difficult if they aren’t ept in English just yet. Teaching English in a language school will be slightly easier, but you should still brush up on some essential phrases (like how to ask for a baguette in your local boulangerie, or order a glass of wine at a bar à vin).
Life in Paris
There is a reason there are countless songs, films, and works of art about life in Paris; it is, quite simply, extraordinary. Paris is one of the most beautiful and iconic cities in the world, and is home to an improbable number of attractions. You might be feeling uncertain about a lot of things before moving to Paris, but you can be confident of one thing: you will never be bored while teaching in Paris.
In a city this size, there is never a shortage of things to do. Join students along the Canal Saint-Martin with a bottle of wine and a picnic. Explore the art museums and meet Monet, Renoir, and Cezanne. Get lost in the tangle of streets around Montmartre. Fall in love with the view of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero. Glory in the fantastic falafels and Sunday quirkiness of le Marais. The list goes on and on, with dozens of quartiers all offering something different to discover.
Because teaching English in Paris is attractive to so many foreign teachers, you won’t have any trouble finding new friends to explore with. Together you can pack every spare moment with trips to every arrondissement in Paris.
Salaries & Costs
Paris is one of the most desirable cities in the world, so living there comes at a price. While some staples of French life (baguettes and fromage, for example) are cheap, many things in Paris are frighteningly expensive. Dining or wining out is pricey, and transport around the city is expensive if you are traversing more than one or two metro zones. The key to making the most of teaching English in Paris is to track down all the great things there are to do for free in the city. Put a visit to the Notre Dame, the many glorious parks, and circle the Nuit Blanche (an all-night free annual art festival) on your calendar.
Salaries for teaching jobs in Paris vary widely, depending on the kind of placement you find yourself in. If you are working independently or for a language school, you will probably earn anything from $20 to $40, depending on experience. However, if you are working as a private, live-in tutor for a family, you can expect a modest salary of around $100 a week. You will usually have room and board covered though, so that amount can go straight into your savings account (or be invested in cheese). Depending on the family you work for, you may get other perks, such as a transport card, so that is another cost you won’t have to worry about. With your main living costs, your weekly salary will go far in Paris.
Accommodation & Visas
Most opportunities to teach English in Paris come with accommodation, usually in the form of a homestay of some kind. Although there might be moments when you struggle with the pressure of living in a family’s home, there really is no better way to learn about French culture, especially their lavish approach to meals. If you’re ever sitting down to eat with the French, pace yourself; there will always be more than one course.
France is famed for its bureaucracy. If you come from a country outside the EU, brace yourself for a lot of sticky red tape and paperwork. You will need a confirmed job offer before even thinking about applying for a visa. Once you have a teaching job in Paris lined up, usually your employer or program provider will guide you through the visa process. Be sure to provide all the documents you will need to apply for a visa, as it will still be a complicated and time-consuming exercise. So that you care fully informed and prepared, it is helpful to contact a French embassy in your home country early on.
Benefits & Challenges
France has a proud cultural and historical heritage, as illustrated by their cuisine, language, and customs. Parisian culture is like no other, and discovering what makes it distinct is hugely rewarding. Just beware; once you get a taste of life in Paris (and French food), you will find it hard to leave.
Parisians are some of the proudest people on Earth. This pride can often be mistaken for arrogance or snobbery, but if they are cold it is because they refuse to bend to foreign influences.
They are notorious for refusing to speak English; it’s not always because they can’t, they just reasonably expect you to make an effort to speak their language in their country. As such, you will be pushed to speak French, which can be both intimidating and difficult, but ultimately beneficial. It’s not called a Romance language for nothing: speaking French will automatically give you an air of intrigue (and look good on your resume of course).
Voulez-vous enseignez avec moi? Say au revoir to boredom, pack your things, and set off to teach English in Paris: l’aventure awaits!