Top tips for teaching English in France

Whether it’s a dream career or just a way to get some money together whilst looking for another job, many Anglophones who come to France will end up teaching English at some point.

Top tips for teaching English in France
Photo: G0h4r/ Wikimedia
English teaching is a huge industry in France, with thousands of foreign nationals plying their trade in language schools across the country.
For some it is the dream job and a free ticket to travel and meet people, but for others it can be an unforgiving world that leaves them living on the bread line.
Here are the top tips for finding work as a prof d'anglais.
1. TEFL isn't the be-all and end-all
“To TEFL or not to TEFL”, This is the question facing everyone who wants to teach English abroad. A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification will undoubtedly open more doors, especially in France.
However, it’s certainly not the be-all and end-all of becoming an English teacher. “I would much rather take on a teacher with experience, someone who says they have been working for seven years, maybe three of those in France. I don’t really care if they have a TEFL,” David Henson, head of Interface Business Languages in Paris tells the Local.
Former teacher in Paris Jasmine Garside says: “A TEFL certificate is always advisable (although to be honest no one checks if you have one, even though it's stated everywhere), and experience is also usually requested. 
“But anyone with basic social skills, a creative approach to the English language, and a few grammar facts up their sleeve, will get through the interview stage, no problem.”
Photo: nito103/ Deposit photos
2. Choose the right school
There are plenty of academies or private language schools out there, with over 300 in Paris alone, but the reality is some are much better than others, and some are worth avoiding completely.
We could not possibly name and shame academies on these pages, but there are plenty of English teaching blogs out there that do.
Often it’s just a case of trial and error. “If you're serious about wanting to get into teaching, then you will find the right place eventually, although you'll probably go through a few bad ones first,” says Englishman Hensen.
Garside, originally from Scotland, adds: “Look out for corporate crooks. Chains of language schools are usually an easy option for getting a quick teaching position, but will not necessarily be the most intellectually stimulating, and will often work out as the worst option financially.”
3. Go off the beaten path
It’s easier to concentrate your job searches around the established academies, as they often have the biggest staff numbers and turnover of teachers. However it might pay off to spend some time looking elsewhere.
“Private language schools – primary and secondary, rather than adult language centres – offer some very well-paid positions and are definitely worth checking out if you can already prove your credentials in teaching and are willing to follow a script,” says Garside.
France's universities are another potential source of employment and are inclined to pay better than your average language school. So too are town halls, many of which offer their own English language courses.
4. Know your salary
“In terms of pay, €1,200 after tax per month is the absolute minimum wage you should envisage in Paris, although slightly less could be feasible elsewhere in France,” says Garside.
“Make sure the job you get allows you this salary, or the time to do other things, otherwise you'll be drinking €1 bottles of wine, eating dry baguettes and sleeping on the Place de la Bastille.”
You might be offered what you think is a decent hourly rate for teaching English, but in reality what you end up with at the end of the month might only leave you with small change to buy a ‘jambon beurre’ after you have paid your rent.
“You are often quoted a wage that gives you no idea of the salary you will earn in reality. Determine whether it's a fixed salary or an optimistic monthly average when negotiating,” Garside says.
Photo: londondeposit/ Deposit photos
5. Consider if you want to be an entrepreneur or not
Some academies may ask you if you have “auto-entrepreneur status” in France, or they might ask you to get it.
It basically means you are self-employed rather than on a contract at the language school. It's cheaper for them and it also means you can demand a much better hourly rate.
The catch: you have to sort out paying your own social charges, which are paid depending on how much you earn. “If it's only a short stay, it's not worth it because the administrative saga can be painful and long,” Garside says.
“However, if you do have an established client base, this is the best means of earning money.”
6. Check your holiday pay
“Remember that the French take, on average, 5-10 weeks holiday each year and you may not be paid during the time your students are on holiday, depending on your contract,” says Garside.
So when all your students are in the Riviera, you might be stuck in Paris with no money and nothing to do. Make sure you check your rights to holiday pay and a minimum number of hours when negotiating a contract.
7. Find out if you're paid for preparation time
When negotiating your salary, if you are in a position to, make sure you know whether you'll be paid for preparation time.
If you are a creative teacher and each lesson has to be a killer one, then your preparation time could be longer than the lesson itself. Some schools or academies will get around this by giving you a set script to follow.
This has its obvious advantages but can be painfully boring at the same time.
8. Account for travel
A love of travel is why most English teachers end up doing what they do, but travel can also cause many to give it up.
Paris and the surrounding Île-de-France region is a huge area, and academies will soon have you travelling to teach at companies far and wide, and your time spent on a [regional] RER train will normally not be paid.
“Make sure you find out during the interview how much travel will be required and how it is remunerated. If you teach for three hours but have to travel for five, your day works out much longer, and your hourly rate takes a big blow,” says Garside.
Photo: AFP
9. Get your CV out there
Sending a CV is still the best way of getting a job at a language school. The best time to send them off is June and July, before the new term starts. This is when a lot of teachers move on and schools are desperately hunting for new recruits.
Getting your CV just right is tricky, and even if you're writing it in English, French companies or schools might expect you to follow the French rules of CV writing
10. Consider private classes
Teaching private classes is always a good way to top up your income. Just make sure you're not travelling for an hour to get there, and make sure you have a cancellation policy that means you get paid even if your client calls off a lesson at the last minute.
To search for English-language jobs in France consult The Local's job pages.
Another version of this story appeared in 2013.

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How to get a summer job in France

As the summer holidays approach in France, many employers are looking for seasonal workers - so if you're looking for a summer job, here's how to go about it.

How to get a summer job in France

There are thousands of employment offers in France – a simple internet search for jobs d’été came up with numerous jobs boards offering work in France, while the government-backed Centre d’Information et de Documentation pour la Jeunesse (CIDJ) offers advice and information on all aspects of life for young people in France, including finding seasonal work and summer placements.

Sectors including agriculture, hospitality and tourism are always recruiting in the summer, seeking fruit-pickers, holiday camp workers and serving/hotel staff.

But what are the rules for people seeking summer jobs?

READ ALSO Vendange: What you really sign up for when you agree to help with the French wine harvest


Children from the age of 16 (under certain circumstances, the age limit drops to 14) who are legally resident in France can work as long as they have written authorisation from their parents or legal guardians. A model authorisation letter is available here

Those under the age of 18 cannot undertake certain jobs for health and safety reasons.

In the following circumstances, children as young as 14 or 15 can work during school holidays.

  • The holidays must last at least 14 days;
  • The child must work no more than half the days of the holiday – so, if a vacation period is two weeks, they can work for no more than one of those weeks;
  • The child is given ‘light duties’ that offer no risk to their safety, health, or development;
  • From the age of 15 and if the child has completed their troisieme education, a minor can register for an apprenticeship. 


Salary is usually paid monthly and will have a payslip. For those aged 18 and over, pay will be at least equal to the minimum wage.

 For those aged 14 to 17, who have less than six months’ professional experience, the minimum allowed rate is 80 percent of the minimum wage. For those aged 17 to 18, the rate rises to a minimum of 90 percent of France’s minimum wage.

  • The minimum wage in France is currently €10.85 gross per hour (€1,645.58 gross per month based on a 35-hour week);
  • the employment contract is fixed-term and can take different forms (fixed-term contract, seasonal employment contract, temporary employment contract, etc);
  • Seasonal employees are subject to the same obligations as the other employees of the company and have access to the same benefits (canteens, breaks, etc.).

Under 18s have certain additional protections:

  • between the ages of 14 and 16, during school holidays, employees on any contract cannot work more than 35 hours per week nor more than 7 hours per day;
  • They cannot work at night;
  • Those aged 14 to under 16 working during their school holidays can only be assigned to work which is not likely to harm their safety, their health or development.

Right to work in France

If you’re a French citizen or hold permanent residency in France then you have the right to work, but for foreigners there are extra restrictions.

Anyone who holds the passport of a EU/EEA country or Switzerland, is free to work in France or to travel to France seeking work without needing a visa or work permit.

Most other people will need permission to work in France – even if it’s only for a short period or for casual work such as grape-picking. Depending on your country of origin you may need a visa – everything you need to know about that is here.

In addition to the visa, you may also need a work permit, which is the responsibility of the employer.  To employ anyone in France for less than 90 days, an employer must get a temporary work permit – before the prospective employee applies for a short stay visa. This permit is then sent to the embassy at which the employee is applying for a visa.

If you come from countries including the UK, USA and Canada you can spend up to 90 days in France without a visa – but you may still need a work (convention d’accueil) if you want to work while you are here.

READ ALSO Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Certain countries have specific ‘seasonal worker’ visas on offer, for certain sectors which allows – for example – Canadians to come to France and work the ski season. 

Cash-in-hand jobs

Certain sectors which have a lot of casual workers – for example seasonal fruit-picking – do have cash-in-hand jobs, known in France as marché noir (black market) or simply travail au black (working on the black, or working illegally). 

This is of course illegal and working this way carries risks – as well as the possibility of losing your job if labour inspectors turn up you are also in a vulnerable position. If your employer suddenly decides not to pay you, or make unexpected deductions from your wages, there is very little you can do about it since you won’t have any kind of work contract.